What to Know Before Returning to Your Doctor’s Office
During the height of the pandemic, many facilities postponed non-emergency care in order to treat COVID-19 patients and preserve supplies, such as masks and ventilators. Moving forward, hospitals and physicians are preparing to not only care for COVID-19 patients (including any surge in cases), but also to resume all health care that was postponed due to the pandemic. Providers and facilities are taking precautions to enable you to access care safely.
Talk to your health care providers about how to address your health care needs. Whether you need an annual physical or preventive services such as a screening or vaccination, rescheduled a surgery, or have a chronic condition that requires regular checkups, your provider can help you determine how to best get the care you need.
Below are some recommendations to help when seeking non-emergency treatment.
It’s important to get the care you need, especially if it is connected to potentially serious health conditions such as a heart attack or stroke. Also, don’t postpone necessary preventive care such as immunizations or cancer screening. Talk to your provider if you have any questions about when to seek treatment.
Know what to expect
Before your visit, talk with your health care provider about their facilities and the precautions they are putting in place to keep patients safe. Health care facilities most likely have established procedures for cleaning and disinfecting, have updated waiting room guidance, and created special places for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 care within their facilities.
To avoid getting COVID-19, or giving it to others, you may want to take basic precautions such as:
- Wear a face covering – A face covering helps limit your risk of getting or spreading disease.
- Avoid crowded waiting areas – Waiting rooms should have chairs spaced far apart. And for some visits, you may be asked to wait in your car until your appointment.
- Limit visitors – Try to limit the number of people who accompany you to appointments to one, if possible.
- Wash your hands often – Use soap and water for 20 seconds, or hand sanitizer when washing your hands is not possible.
- Have a screening before entering a facility – You may have your temperature taken, or be asked questions about your health status, before you can enter a health care facility.
- Consider telehealth – Many providers offer telehealth (or telemedicine as it is also known) which makes it possible to have appointments over the internet, by phone, email, or other digital media.
For some procedures, such as a surgery, it may necessary to be tested for COVID-19 beforehand. If testing is not available, you may be asked to self-isolate prior to your surgery to reduce the risk that you have COVID-19. Your provider can advise you if advanced testing is necessary.