Coronavirus cases are rising across the US, and as CNN reports at least 39 states have reported an increase in the number of new cases from the week before. While health specialists and medical offices are urging people to social distancing, a lot of patients have questions and are fearful to reach out to their healthcare provider due to COVID-19.
A serious question we all think about: Is it safe going to the doctor during COVID-19 pandemic?
Many hospitals are focused on testing and taking care of the people who need treatment for COVID-19. However, as Dr. William Dale of the Center for Cancer and Aging in California told MarketWatch, “It is time for patients to re-engage with their providers. Cancer won’t stop for a pandemic and neither will heart disease, diabetes or other non-COVID 19 health issues.”
Dr. Phillip L. Coule, vice president and chief medical officer at the Augusta University Health System in Georgia, said admissions in his hospital were down by 25% to 40%.
"Some of that appears to be driven out of fear," he said. "Certainly, some of it is driven out of canceling elective cases, delaying procedures and things like that. But I'm quite certain that there is a component that is driven out of people not seeking health care because they're concerned about the potential of becoming infected with COVID-19."
Official guidelines say that doctors and clinics should prioritize urgent and emergency visits as of now. The goal is to keep people healthy and conserve needed supplies. Some doctors and other health care professionals are canceling routine visits. They also may postpone any procedure considered “elective.” If the procedure you have scheduled really shouldn’t wait, then doctors are less likely to delay it. Nonetheless, keep in mind that things are changing each and everyday. During this time, doctors in some places may even have to decide if it’s best to delay surgeries for cancer or other serious conditions. Again, this will depend on current events/statistics of your location.
But, in some cases, you may be able to talk to your doctor and see your doctor, without going to a hospital. If you’re seeking consultations with preferred doctors, psychologists, dentists and veterinarians in your area, you can use Telehealth option from DocNow Online. Telemedicine allows doctors and other health professionals to “see” patients using phone or video. You can make online video appointments and your doctor can make a visit using the computer.
For people who decide to visit doctors in person, officials recommend taking measures to help stay healthy. Inside the medical facility, the CDC encourages patients to wear masks, avoid touching their faces and practice social distancing. According to health officials, if possible, people should use contactless payment options. WHYY reported, doctors are also adjusting by including screening people at the door and moving potentially sick patients to afternoon appointments. Medical facilities are also making visitors wait behind plexiglass shields or in their cars before going to exam rooms, according to news outlets.