Don’t postpone necessary healthcare due to shelter in place orders. We have to be careful , but it’s important to seek care you need now. The apex of the COVID-19 curve will hit every community. So will the rapid drop in its prevalence.  

So when the “dust” settles, expect long waits and significant lead time for appointments. Providers of all sorts will be backlogged trying to catch up with deferred care. Additionally, support staff resources will likely have been reduced. With 25% of Americans already deferring needed care, adding an additional 2 months for nearly all Americans is likely to make for significant access challenges.  

What should you do? The current shelter in place directives from local state and federal governments require that people remain in their homes and isolated except for necessary excursions. Non-elective healthcare is of course one of those exceptions. To the extent that you have an injury or illness that does not appear to be improving on its own. Most physician offices are relatively quiet right now, so it’s a good time to seek needed healthcare. 

Some things to think about:

  1. Stick with social distancing. Keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
  2. Call ahead. Most of your visit can probably be handled on the phone or through telemedicine.
  3. Don’t enter a clinic with a cough. Wait for instructions from the provider as to where and when you can be treated.  
  4. Wear a mask or request one if you are coughing or sneezing. Even 3-ply masks have proven very effective in keeping the virus spreading from contagious individuals with slightly less protection for uninfected individuals exposed to airborne virus particles.
  5. If other people are in the waiting room, request to complete any paperwork outside or in an exam room. (Providers should offer this.)
  6. Don’t expect a COVID-19 test right away. Testing is limited, so is PPE for the healthcare workers who are administering the tests.
  7. Wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds) every chance you get.
  8. To be safe, it’s not a bad idea to change your clothes and throw them in the washing machine.  
  9. Have your prescriptions sent electronically to pharmacies that deliver or have them sent to a grocery store where you shop so you don’t have to make an extra trip.
  10. Don't touch your face. Put a band-aid on both of your index fingers and count how many times you try to touch your face (a "no-no") each hour you are out of the house (you will be surprised).