COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, has made us aware of social distancing, staying home, and being conservative in choices to places to travel to and visit. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that hospitals and clinics are still safe to use for your healthcare needs. In fact, it’s important not to put off regular visits and you definitely shouldn’t ignore potentially life-threatening problems.
Here are four ways that Intermountain has made sure that we are here for you during the pandemic.
Services are open
First, it is important to know that all Intermountain hospitals and clinics are safe as essential precautions have been instituted for everyone’s safety.
Non-urgent services clinic services such as preventive care, wellness visits, chronic condition management are available. Also, dialysis and kidney services, home care services, laboratory, hyperbaric and wound care services can be accessed. Pharmacy services continue to operate as well.
While some medical services were temporarily postponed to address the pandemic, the current status of COVID-19 in Utah has allowed for many services to resume.
Still, as medical services are resuming, it is not business as usual quite yet. There are additional precautions and in place at all Intermountain facilities such as symptom checks for anyone entering, extra cleaning and the use of personal protective equipment for all. Visitors are still temporarily restricted except for certain situations. For the current visitor guidelines, visit IntermountainHealthcare.org/Visitors.
Don’t delay vital care
Hospitals in Utah and nationally have seen reductions in the number of people coming in for help with symptoms that are potentially life-threatening. Nationally, a study found that there has been a 40 percent reduction in people getting their stroke symptoms evaluated.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, some doctors have seen cases of patients waiting too long to seek life-saving treatment and we certainly don’t want that to happen," said Dr. Megan Donohue, neurologist for the Intermountain Healthcare Neurosciences Institute. "When it comes to a stroke, time lost equals brain lost. The more rapidly we’re able to recognize a stroke and provide interventions to restore blood flow, the more likely the patient is to have a positive outcome."
Well-child visits and immunizations
There are currently vaccines available for children and teens that keep them safe and protected from harmful diseases such as measles and whooping cough.
Pediatricians stress that it’s important and safe to access medical care including newborn care and well-child checkups that involve childhood vaccines. It’s vital that children and teens maintain their vaccination schedules to stay safe and healthy.
Pediatric offices have created ways to allow children and teens to safely access these important appointments – while minimizing risk of COVID-19 exposure. These strategies include a combination of ways to separate sick and well children, such as scheduling well visits in the morning and other visits in the afternoon or separating patients into different areas of the clinic.
Many clinics are using other innovative strategies as well, such as phone check-ins from vehicles and then going straight to a clinic exam room, or curbside services which means avoiding lobbies altogether. Check with your provider on the steps their facility is taking to prevent exposure.
Video visits always an option
Telehealth visits have become an important option during this COVID-19 time. This is where you can use your computer or smartphone to have a video visit with a provider. Some physicians have been scheduling appointments over the past months this way in lieu of having patients come into a medical facility.
Intermountain Connect Care is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Providers are there to help, and if needed, refer you to a clinic or hospital if further evaluations or screening is needed.
"Using Connect Care is just like seeing a healthcare provider at an urgent care facility like an InstaCare, except you can do it from anywhere, at any time. No appointment is necessary, and your regular Intermountain doctor can see a record of your visit," said Kerry Palakanis, executive director of Intermountain Connect Care.
You can download the Intermountain Connect Care app for Apple or Android, or go to intermountainconnectcare.org for more information.