Posted by Dr. Thomas Horowitz

With the growing scale of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and healthcare workers are facing an unprecedented surge of patients. To help the hospitals and frontline staff provide uninterrupted care and keep everyone safe, it is important for us to be mindful while using medical services in the current state of the pandemic and ‘safer at home’ order.

Utilize Emergency Department (ED) for critical situations: ED provides care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but it should be used for true emergencies only. It is not a replacement for traditional primary care. Please contact your primary care provider’s office for any non-urgent medical problems. If you are sick or think you may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, call your doctor’s office or emergency room before visiting the hospital and tell them about your symptoms.

Reschedule routine appointments: Routine care and health screenings such as annual physical exam should wait until the ‘safer at home’ order is lifted. If you are being monitored for a disease or chronic underlying condition, you should ask your doctor if you should postpone your visit.

Inquire about online appointment or telemedicine: Thanks to modern technology, many health check-ups can be conducted virtually/electronically. You may be able to get some of your follow-up care and mild disease management via telemedicine. Through telemedicine, doctors and medical staff can virtually evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients at a distance. Check with your doctor to see if they offer virtual care. This can keep you safer at home and fill in some of your health care needs. Nurse line—offered by several care plans—is another way to receive health advice for common medical conditions without visiting the doctor’s office.

By working with your primary care doctor, you can reduce the burden on EDs and allow them to focus on the critically ill patients. Our health care team members are fighting for you when you are sick. So please stay at home, follow hand hygiene measures, practice social distancing (maintain at least 6 ft. distance) and protect yourself from any disease, especially the avoidable ones.
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