Written by: Amy Sloane
Regular healthcare continues to be a necessity even during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to continue your regular medical checkups especially if you have specific conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease, or you if you suffer an injury. You may wonder if it is safe to leave your home to visit your doctor and would like other ways to get the consultation you need for adjustments to your medication or if you have an emergency. Your doctor will tell you if you need a visit. If so, here are three ways you can safely visit your doctor’s office during 2020:
1. Social Distance
When you visit the clinic, you should touch as few surfaces as possible. Of course, the staff at the hospital or clinic will maintain good hygiene, but you shouldn’t count on that alone to stay safe. It is recommended to call ahead and ask what precautions the clinic is taking to protect patients. These may include:
- All the staff is wearing cloth masks
- Disinfecting surfaces is done frequently
- Sanitizing hands is done frequently
- Following social distancing guidelines
- Asking each patient at check-in about COVID-19 symptoms and means of travel
The best solution for checkout is to ask if you can use a touchless payment, such as transferring funds online. Another option is to ask if they will send you a bill by email that you can pay with a bank transfer. If you have no choice but to pay with a credit card, check or cash, be sure to use hand sanitizer immediately after receiving back your credit card or using a pen on the clinic’s counter.
2. Telemedicine is Easy
The clinic will have telehealth software that provides a video visit fact-to-face with your doctor or another healthcare provider. You will see and hear your doctor on your phone or computer. You can consult from home, and your doctor can access the software from anywhere, which makes it a good option for emergencies.
Your doctor will be able to tell you if you need to visit the office. You may have a regularly scheduled appointment that can be postponed. If you have pre-existing conditions that increase your risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, telemedicine is a good way to inform your doctor.
Telemedicine is an extremely satisfying way to communicate with a healthcare professional because you can get your question answered and express symptoms while seeing your doctor’s face and your doctor seeing your expressions and concerns. You needn’t worry about discussing private matters because telemedicine is secure.
Telemedicine is also useful for screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms before the patient comes into the clinic or hospital. If treatment or diagnoses is needed for COVID-19, your doctor can give you directions on how and when to enter the clinic. Also, telemedicine is very convenient for the elderly who may be at high-risk for contracting COVID-19.
3. Follow CDC Guidelines
Follow the normal guidelines given to everyone especially if you travel by bus or train. These may include:
- Wearing a cloth mask at all times unless your doctor asks you to remove it. If you don’t have one, you can ask the staff to provide you with one before you go.
- Keeping your hands away from surfaces and your face as much as possible. Use hand sanitizer after every time you do touch a door handle, pen, or even a prescription paper. Ask your doctor about sending prescriptions directly to your local pharmacy.
- Maintaining at least six feet from other patients in a waiting room is very important. Physical contact with other people is one of the major ways the virus is transmitted. Remember, not everyone shows symptoms at first, but they are still contagious.
If you have very serious symptoms such as an allergic reaction or broken bone, you will have to go to an urgent care facility or the emergency department of a hospital.
You don’t need to allow your health to deteriorate because you are afraid to visit your doctor’s office during the pandemic. With telemedicine and proper precautions, you can safely talk to your doctor and learn if he or she recommends a personal visit to the clinic.