Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation
With the COVID-19 stay-at-home order still in place, many are concerned it is risky to seek medical care, even if you are sick. Physicians are working hard to communicate to their patients that waiting too long to get help for life threatening conditions can be dangerous.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 41% of American adults reported they avoided or delayed medical care since the start of COVID-19 because they were concerned about possible exposure.
With almost a full year focused on COVID-19 and the health complications associated with the virus, many have neglected critical and routine health care. Although it is natural to have concerns, physician offices, eye doctors, podiatrists, and other medical specialists are taking great precautions to ensure the safest care possible for your appointment.
You can be proactive by doing your homework. Before you set your appointment, call the office or check the physician’s website to find out what they are doing to protect patients. Look for mask requirements by staff and visitors, cleaning and sanitizing protocols for exam rooms, waiting rooms, and frequently touched surfaces. Make sure social distancing practices are in place and the number of people that can be in the office at one time is limited. Inquire if screening measures and temperature checks for visitors and their staff at all entrances are in place.
In addition, ask what special measures or instructions are being taken for people who have or may have COVID-19. Are physicians and staff that are coming in contact with patients wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)? If going into an office is too stressful, what are your options for a video (telemedicine) appointment?
Shortly before your appointment you should get a call from the physician’s office inquiring if you have any COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, coughing, loss of appetite or taste. They will remind you to wear a mask. In some cases they may tell you to come to the appointment alone or ask your driver to wait in the car.
When it is time to check out, opt for touchless payment if possible. Ask if they will send you a bill electronically or by mail. Another option is to use a mobile payment system. If paying with a credit card, provide the necessary information without letting the receptionist touch the card.
Your health is essential. Not only should you be proactive about chronic health issues, but keeping up on routine tests is also important. Preventative screenings such as mammograms, colon, and prostate care should not be put off.
If you are unsure what to do, talk to your doctor about your medical concerns and what your next steps should be. Don’t be reluctant to return if you haven’t been there for a while. Continuity of care is important, especially for chronic conditions. Caring for yourself today, may help prevent medical complications in the future.
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