The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on nearly every aspect of modern life. Because it’s a novel virus, even those of us who have spent many years working in the healthcare industry are unable to predict all its downstream effects.
One result that’s particularly concerning for me and my colleagues at GBMC HealthCare System is our patients avoiding healthcare for their chronic illnesses or emergencies due to fear. It’s perfectly normal to feel some fear, and to be cautious as our country begins to open again. But please remember that although COVID-19 halted so many aspects of society, it did not stop all other health issues from progressing. Ignoring your health and delaying care because of COVID-19 also have the potential to be very dangerous.
You may have received a video message from GBMC HealthCare President and CEO, John B. Chessare, MD, MPH, about what our system is doing to ensure safety for our patients, but the message bears repeating - please do not stay at home if you need care. These are some of the changes GBMC Health Partners has made to keep you safe, should you need to be seen in the office:
- GBMC Health Partners is seeing patients in person and via telehealth video visits. Using video visits allows you to talk with your doctor without leaving home. This reduces the number of patients coming through the office and decreases the potential for inadvertent exposure of patients and staff to COVID-19. Thus, in-person visits can be done safely for those who need them. We encourage you to utilize MyChart for your telehealth needs, and you can also call your doctor if you need help. We are ready to assist you.
- Extensive cleaning of all work spaces and patient areas is performed between encounters and throughout the day.
- Temperature screening stations are in place at hospital entrances and in our practices. All patients, providers, and staff members have their temperature checked upon arrival and must wear masks (along with other appropriate personal protective equipment “PPE” if necessary).
- All patients are asked COVID-19 screening questions when they make their appointment and again when they arrive. Patients are given specific appointment times to limit the number of people in the offices at one time, and are kept in private exam rooms during their visits.
- Offices have been rearranged to allow for social distancing. In certain locations, there may be physical barriers in place, and in some cases, family members may be asked to wait in their vehicles. A family member or friend may accompany a patient if it is medically necessary for the patient, or if the patient is a minor.
- All surgical patients are tested for COVID-19 pre-operatively.
- COVID-19 positive patients and patients under investigation (PUIs) who require hospital admission are sequestered in the hospital. Outpatients who are COVID-19 positive or PUIs are encouraged to utilize telehealth video visits to determine whether in-person care is needed.
We have also compiled a COVID-19 webpage, where you can find tips for maintaining good mental health and watch recent interviews with some of our experts. I’m including a link to one interview here for your convenience: Dr. Anthony Chico Provides Tips for Mental Health.
During this time of recovery, GBMC HealthCare continues to work toward its vision of providing the care we would want for our own loved ones to every patient, every time. Your health and safety remain our top priorities.
Harold J. Tucker, MD
Chief Medical Officer, President of GBMC Health Partners