What to Do if You Need Medical Care and Don’t Have Coronavirus?
Doctors and hospitals throughout the country have rescheduled elective procedures and have encouraged patients to remain at home to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
But, what should you do if you have a health issue other than Coronavirus (COVID-19) and need to see your physician? Or worse – what if you or someone close to you experiences a health emergency?
First, Talk to Your Doctor
Wayne UNC Health Care and UNCPN have taken steps to reschedule elective procedures and are prioritizing urgent and emergency visits in their clinics.
“We are doing everything we can to keep both our patients and our teammates well,” said Dr. Thaddeus West, III, of UNC Internal Medicine at Goldsboro. “If you have an appointment or procedure scheduled, you should hear from us. However, if you haven’t, it’s a good idea to call and talk to your provider or office before going in.”
It’s important to also understand that elective procedures are not the same as optional procedures. They include procedures that are planned in advance, such as mammograms, colonoscopies and tonsillectomies. If you’re concerned about delaying a procedure, consult your physician.
If you have a routine doctor visit coming up that you would rather not cancel, a virtual visit may be an option for you. “If this is an option, your doctor may suggest a visit using the computer or phone,” said Dr. West. “New rules are making telehealth much easier, including Medicare expansion to cover these kinds of visits.”
If you have a non-emergency condition such as ear problems, urinary problems, pink eye or insect bites, try UNC Urgent Care 24/7. For $49 or less, depending on your insurance, you can connect virtually with a board-certified provider any time, any day.
For more information, visit uncurgentcare247.com or download the app.
Take Your Medications
As we all focus on staying healthy at home, you can do your part by staying on top of your medications. If you have questions about anything you are taking related to COVID-19, ask your doctor.
Doctors and some insurance providers are making it easier to get 90-day medication refills to help minimize trips to the pharmacy. Check with your doctor, pharmacy and health insurance to see if that’s possible.
If You Go to the Doctor
If you have a condition that requires you to visit your doctor in person, it’s important to keep your appointment. Clinics are taking significant precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
To reduce your risk of infection, Dr. West suggests:
- Maintaining physical distancing (staying at least six feet from others)
- Washing your hands with soap and water regularly for more than 20 seconds each time
- Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you can’t wash your hands
- Not touching your face
- Avoiding touching surfaces or shared items
- Using disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces you do need to touch
If You Have an Emergency
In case of an emergency, don’t wait to get the care you need. If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, slurred speech, an eye injury, seizure or severe cuts, call 911.
If your health condition makes a hospital visit likely, talk to your physician in advance so you’ll know what to do in that case. The Wayne UNC Health Care Emergency Department has set up a triage tent to screen patients for respiratory illness to separate possible COVID-19 patients from other emergency patients.