People have been asked to sacrifice a lot to help end the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Eating out, going to the salon, exercising at the gym and gathering with friends – these are things that have been difficult to give up.
So, if you’re supposed to avoid leaving home as much as possible, does that mean you should postpone that routine check-up or health screening with your doctor or health care team? Is it safe to go to your health care provider’s office and possibly risk exposure to people who are sick or their germs?
Routine health needs are still important. And with smart precautions, you can get care safely.
Don’t ignore your health needs
Routine health appointments may seem like no big deal. After all, what’s the harm in missing your annual check-up this year, right? But ignoring your basic health needs can have serious impacts.
Routine physicals and health screenings can help catch serious disease in an early stage, when it’s easier to treat. Lab tests can alert your provider to changes in your health and produce the information needed to properly monitor and manage your health.
You should also continue to get recommended immunizations. The potential health risks from conditions that vaccinations prevent aren’t reduced just because the world is focused on COVID-19.
Maintaining a good relationship with your primary and specialty care physicians and advanced practice providers helps ensure that you’re getting your medications refilled and updated, as needed. It also helps keep your health and well-being at the forefront of your life.
Vaccinations for children are more important than ever and should be continued on the recommended schedule. Timing is important for many of these vaccinations to create the strongest immunity so your child doesn’t have to endure a preventable contagious disease. Children’s well-child visits are an important part of maintaining good health, too. They help identify potential barriers to normal growth and development.
If you have a chronic health condition, your specialist appointments should never be skipped.
Mental wellness affects your quality of life. It can impact your physical health and your interpersonal relationships. Times of crisis or uncertainty can also worsen any underlying mental health conditions.
Getting care is safe
At OSF HealthCare, we are screening patients, visitors and care team members upon entering our facilities to make sure people who have COVID-19-like symptoms don’t expose others to the illness. We are also scheduling more time in between appointments to keep the number of people in the facility low, and some medical offices are scheduling wellness visits in the morning and sick person appointments in the afternoon.
We’re following strict guidelines provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for cleaning and disinfecting. We are wiping down surfaces between patients and encouraging patients to perform hand hygiene throughout their visit, especially when touching commonly handled surfaces such as pens, elevators and door handles. Hand sanitizer should be available throughout our sites, such as at check-in desks and wall-mounted dispensers in exam rooms.
We’ve removed some of the chairs from the waiting areas, so patients can sit six feet apart, whenever possible. And we’ve removed toys, reading materials and other objects that cannot be easily cleaned.
Also, for mental and behavioral health needs, OSF HealthCare proudly offers OSF SilverCloud, a secure, anonymous and interactive platform that helps people manage the feeling and causes of depression, anxiety or stress. This free app is available via handheld device, computer or laptop and consists of interactive modules, including material to help people deal with stress related to COVID-19. Each can be completed in any order, typically over an eight- to 10-week period. These include mindfulness exercises, interactive journaling, mood and lifestyle charting.
You can also chat with Clare, the digital assistant on osfhealthcare.org, who can help direct you to resources to meet your needs.