Early in the pandemic, many patients or health care professionals delayed non-urgent care to help ensure personal safety. Now, as you schedule your in-person doctor visits, treatments and care appointments, you can expect to see differences in what you may be required to do and how your in-person visits are managed.
1. Screening processes
Prior to or when you arrive at the doctor's office or health care facility, you may be required to go through a screening process, have your temperature taken and be asked to answer questions about your health. If you do not have a high temperature or other risk factors, you will be able to keep your appointment.
2. Cloth face coverings
Hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities require employees, patients and visitors to wear medical masks or face coverings to protect everyone's safety and health. You should expect to wear a face covering at all times.
3. Waiting rooms
You may see fewer people and new seating configurations in the waiting room of health care facilities in an effort to minimize the potential exposure of patients and employees to COVID-19. You may also find registration and check-in are now available by phone or online before your in-person appointment to reduce the need to wait. When you arrive, you are likely to be given a patient room quickly to reduce time spent around other people, or asked to remain in your car until called in for your appointment.
4. Appointments and operating hours
Your doctor may have shorter office hours and accept fewer appointments to limit the number of people in the office at any time. Check to see if there are changes to the hours of operations that would affect the doctor's availability, or if there are other new policies for in-person appointments.
5. Your safety measures
You will need to practice social distancing in hallways, in waiting rooms and at check-in desks. Expect disinfection and cleaning protocols to be in place before, during and after your visit. Hand sanitizers will likely be readily available and hand-washing encouraged before and after each appointment.
Your health and the health of your family is too important to postpone essential care, especially if you have an ongoing condition. Also, be sure to see your doctor or health care professional if you have any new signs or symptoms of a health problem, or if you need preventive care.