COVID-19 remains a significant concern worldwide, but that doesn’t mean you can or should put your health on hold. It’s more important than ever to take care of ourselves, especially if you have an ongoing health concern, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. What should you do if you have a health concern that’s not related to the Coronavirus? Or what if you or a child is due for a preventive service, such as a vaccine or cancer screening?
The first and most important step is to reach out to your primary care provider’s office. Before making an appointment or deciding yourself to forgo treatment, ask what options they offer for virtual care – especially if you have any chronic health conditions that increase your risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
Some questions to ask:
- Can you have a virtual appointment instead of coming in?
- Can you safely postpone treatment?
- What are your other options?
Reaching out to your doctor, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or other provider, will help you make an informed decision about how to proceed. You may be able to stay at home and talk with your provider virtually, but if you need to go into the office, there are precautions you can take to keep yourself safe.
A virtual visit is a good option if you don’t need an in-person examination. All you need is a connection to the internet and your doctor can invite you to a secure virtual appointment that you can take on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
During a telehealth or telephone visit, your provider will ask about your condition, conduct a visual examination, provide a diagnosis, and send prescriptions to your pharmacy, if needed. You may also get recommendations for additional care or a follow-up visit.
If you are going to the doctor’s office, you should reach out ahead of time to see what policy or procedure they have in place. They may be limiting the number of visitors, screening for fever, or requiring that you wear a mask, even if you are vaccinated. Practices are different depending on where you go. Be sure to find out what you need to do before you show up for your appointment.
If you have an illness or injury and need help right away, reach out to your doctor’s office to see if a same-day visit is possible. Many walk-in clinics are available or you may be able to get a virtual visit. But, if it’s a true emergency, the ER is the place to go—some medical conditions require immediate attention.
Most importantly, take care of yourself during this time. Your physical and emotional health are too important to ignore!