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Don't Let COVID-19 Keep You From Seeing Your Doctors

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 28, 2020 -- Patients with chronic health problems don't need to put off seeing their doctors in person during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, that could lead to other health problems, according to an expert from Rutgers Center for State Health Policy at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, in New Jersey.

In a news release from Rutgers, assistant research professor Ann Nguyen highlighted some facts that people should know about visiting their doctors.

Some things to watch for when assessing safety include:

  • Does your physician's office see patients by appointment only? Do staff post clear safety protocols online, outside the office or describe them over the phone?
  • Office staff should walk patients through safety protocols on the phone, including asking them to wear a mask for an in-person visit and to come alone unless a companion is necessary for physical or emotional health.
  • Staff should ask screening questions on the phone or online.

What you can expect doctor's offices to be doing to ensure safety:

  • To reduce contact, offices may have set up patient portals to answer questions.
  • The office may collect all information that can be gathered in advance, such as insurance information, prior to the appointment.
  • Patients may be asked to wait in their car or outside until the doctor is ready to see them. If patients do go into a waiting room, the office may limit the number of people to allow for social distancing.
  • Office staff members may ask screening questions and check temperatures.
  • Everyone in the office should be wearing personal protective equipment, including other patients.
  • Hand sanitizer should be available.
  • Offices may stagger in-person visits to allow time for cleaning, and sanitize equipment and examination rooms after every patient visit.
  • During the visit, office staff and the doctor maintain a six-foot distance when possible.
  • Staff who can perform their jobs at home are not in the office.

To prepare for lab work:

  • Call the lab before booking an appointment.
  • If you have a chronic condition, ask the lab or your doctor for tips on the best times to visit.
  • Ask how the lab separates patients seeking routine lab work from those getting coronavirus testing.

© 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2020

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