Q: I have a follow-up medical appointment next month. This was scheduled the last time I saw my physician six months ago. I have been very careful avoiding people as much as possible ever since the pandemic started. I really don’t know if I want to keep the appointment and take a chance I could be around a sick individual. How do I make this decision?
A: We have heard this from numerous individuals. Depending on the area where you live, some physicians are rescheduling routine appointments until a later time. Medical professionals may still be prioritizing urgent and emergency visits. Many elective procedures are being postponed for the immediate future. If you haven’t received a call from your physician’s office to make a change most likely the appointment still stands and your doctor feels it is important for you to be seen. Your discomfort is perfectly understandable and there are probably a lot of other people who are in conflict over the exact situation. Fears aside this is not the time to ignore your health especially if you have a chronic condition or have noticed serious signs or symptoms.
To ease your concerns call the doctor’s office and ask if you can safely put off your appointment. Find out if a telehealth (on-line appointment) is an option. This can be conducted either over the phone or by computer. Medicare and some insurance companies have expanded coverage of telehealth for many visits. In the event it is determined you should be seen in person ask what safety procedures are in place to protect patients when they arrive at the office. You should feel confident the staff at the office are doing everything possible to reduce the risk to both patients and medical personnel. In some practices they are asking patients to remain in their cars until they receive a call stating they are ready to see you. Your temperature may also be taken once you arrive at the door.
As a patient you also should be taking measures to protect yourself and others. Wash your hands carefully before entering the office. Wear a face covering making sure it covers your nose, mouth and chin. Use a tissue/paper towel to open door knobs or touch elevator buttons. Maintain a distance of 6 feet from other individuals and avoid touching common surfaces. After you leave the office once again wash your hands or use a disinfectant wipe.
Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff are available to offer assistance. Call 1-800-892-0890 (for the 23 cities and towns of the Merrimack Valley) or 978-750-4540 (for the 5 towns in the North Shore).
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Direct correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.