Staying healthy as we all navigate health care in the age of COVID-19
Getting the care you need to stay healthy – Dr. Oliveira discusses what to ask your doctor when routine or necessary care is needed
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been advising people to call before visiting their doctor, urgent care, or hospital – and that’s still sound advice. Especially if you’re feeling sick.
However, we’ve also been seeing people postpone or decline important follow-up care for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); even cancer screenings. Or, parents postponing infant or childhood immunizations that are critical to avoiding serious disease, out of fear of exposing their children to COVID-19.
It’s completely understandable, but it’s important to remember – if you’re thinking about delaying care, talk to your doctor first.
There may be options other than an in-person visit, such as telehealth and virtual options or in-home care.
If an in-person visit is needed, remember that many doctor’s offices now have new protocol in place for scheduling routine visits—this includes keeping waiting areas safe, and requiring personal protective equipment, such as masks, for all visitors.
Some questions you might ask before an in-person visit include:
- Can the visit be conducted through telehealth or virtual care?
- What’s the protocol to park, check in and be seen for an in-person office visit?
- What are the precautions being taken (such as wearing masks, limiting patient volume or disinfection practices) to guard against COVID-19 for your patients and staff?
- Are sick patients separated from well patients when seen for in-person office visits?
- Do you have separate waiting areas for well visits or elective procedure follow-up visits?
- Does a separate staff support routine clinical visits versus those assisting patients who are ill?
- Are you scheduling well patient visits or elective procedure check ins at specific times of day, separating them from sick visits?
Dr. Drew Oliveira, senior executive medical director at Regence, shares more below:
Also, if you’ve been waiting for an elective procedure, such as a knee replacement, some doctor’s offices are beginning to lift restrictions. Contact your doctor’s office directly to learn more about what or when elective procedures can resume.
We all still need to care for our health while sheltering in place. If you need follow-up care after a procedure, if you have a chronic condition, if you’re late for a cancer screening, or if you’re wondering if you can put off childhood immunizations, our advice is to call your doctor before you make a decision. It’s important for you to get the care you need, and your personal doctor is going to be your best guide for what that means while we all navigate COVID-19.