How to Safely See Your Doctor for Non-COVID-19 Medical Care
It’s important not to avoid or delay medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Nationwide studies show that some Americans are delaying or avoiding medical care because they are concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19.
- It’s important to take care of yourself and not to avoid or delay medical care. Learn about the safety precautions at your hospital or doctor’s office so you’re well informed and prepared for your next visit.
- Social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands can help you stay safe if you need to visit the hospital or doctor’s office in person.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 41 percent of American adults reported that they avoid or delayed medical care during the pandemic because they were concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19.
You may be wondering how to safely access medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic if you’re due for a routine exam or a health screening, like a colonoscopy or mammogram, or if you need treatment for a condition or emergency care. Here’s what you can do to stay safe while getting the care you need.
Why should I keep my routine medical appointment?
Routine exams or follow-up medical appointments are necessary for your preventive and continued health. If you have questions about whether you should go to your doctor’s appointment, the best thing to do is call your doctor. You should let your doctor know if you have any health conditions that increase your risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.
Your doctor will let you know if you need to be seen in the office, or if you can schedule a Virtual Visit. Nuvance Health offers Virtual Visits so you can have a remote consultation with your doctor using a computer or mobile device. For more information, to schedule an appointment, or to find a doctor, visit nuvancehealth.org/virtualvisits.
What should I do if I’m experiencing a minor illness or injury?
Call your doctor’s office if you have a minor illness or injury. Examples of minor illnesses are colds, sore throats, gastrointestinal viruses, or sinus infections. Minor injuries include small cuts or burns, sprains, and strains. Depending on your condition and symptoms, your doctor’s office will provide recommendations for scheduling an in-person appointment or a Virtual Visit.
What should I do if I’m experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?
Call your doctor’s office if you think you have COVID-19 symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms may include fever or chills; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; fatigue; muscle or body aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting; or diarrhea. Your doctor’s office will help you with next steps, which may include an in-person visit or a Virtual Visit. Please don’t go directly to your doctor’s office without calling ahead first to let them know about your symptoms.
What should I do if I’m experiencing a medical emergency?
Please don’t delay emergency care if you’re experiencing signs of heart attack, stroke, or another health concern that may require immediate attention, such as an allergic reaction or broken bone. Nuvance Health emergency departments have strict protocols in place to keep patients who need emergency care safe, such as cohorting and separation of patients according to symptoms.
Call 911 if you’re experiencing what could be life-threatening symptoms such as trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion or inability to wake up; or bluish lips or face.
If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 or think you have it, tell the dispatcher if you call 911, or call the emergency department before arriving, to let them know about your symptoms.
Learn more: Don’t delay emergency care during covid-19
What steps can I take to reduce my risk of COVID-19 infection when I go to the hospital or a doctor’s office?
Follow public health guidelines to reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 when you go to a hospital or doctor’s office:
- Wear a face mask
- Practice social distancing by following signs, marketing on the floor, and directions from staff to maintain at least six feet space between you and others
- Practice proper hygiene:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with the bend of your arm — even when you’re wearing a mask
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds at a time. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) with your hands
What’s Nuvance Health doing to ensure a healthy and safe environment for patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Nuvance Health has implemented the following precautions at its facilities to ensure a healthy and safe environment for patients and staff:
- Screening protocols: Patients are pre-screened for COVID-19 risk factors over the phone before their appointment. Patients and staff are screened before entering any Nuvance Health hospital or facility.
- Check-in/out processes: To ensure proper social distancing, patients may be asked to wait in their vehicles until their appointment begins, or in waiting areas with fewer chairs set more than six feet apart. Pre-registration and follow-up appointments may be done by phone.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE): Face masks must be worn by patients, approved visitors, and staff. Clinical staff may also wear additional PPE including face shields, head coverings, gloves, or surgical gowns.
- Infection prevention: Stringent cleaning and disinfecting of facilities takes place through the day with a deep clean daily.
The bottom line: It’s important not to avoid or delay medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nuvance Health hospitals and facilities have implemented precautions to keep you safe so you can get the care you need. Follow public health guidelines if you need to go to the hospital or your doctor’s office. Speak with your doctor’s because you may also be able to schedule a Virtual Visit depending on your condition.
Nuvance Health is keeping the communities informed on our website at nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus, and on social media @NuvanceHealth, or search for your hospital’s name.