Seeing your doctor is smart – and safe

Published in Wellness Urgent Care Family Medicine Emergency Services Tag: Richard Wehseler, MD  

Author: Richard Wehseler, MD

From the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Carris Health has been on the frontlines caring for patients and implementing guidelines and processes to keep our patients safe. We still cared for hundreds of patients who needed emergent care and hospitalization. After all, heart disease, cancer and other serious health issues can’t be put on hold.

Many of you have patiently waited while services such as elective procedures and surgeries, annual visits and preventive exams, were canceled or rescheduled as we shifted our focus to caring for COVID-19 patients and preserving personal protective equipment.

While you may have delayed getting the care you needed over the last few months, we know that maintaining your well-being and health is vital. We recognize that decisions about getting care during this uncertain time can be confusing and even a little scary. Our clinics are open and safely seeing patients. We have taken a variety of precautions to keep you safe during your doctor visit, including:

  • Screening all patients, visitors and staff upon arrival
  • Requiring all patients, visitors and staff to wear a face mask in our buildings
  • Implementing enhanced cleaning and sanitizing processes to disinfect all equipment and surfaces
  • Redesigning waiting rooms and check-in spaces to ensure social distancing
  • Separation of patients with symptoms of respiratory illness from other patients
  • Implementing visitor restrictions to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 to our patients and staff
  • Continue to encourage virtual visits for appropriate people to limit in clinic visits

We are also working to resume elective procedures and surgeries based on established criteria for prioritization and ensuring a safe environment. Surgical teams began by safely increasing emergent and time sensitive procedures to meet patients’ needs. As time goes on, we will continue to expand to other types of cases, staying within the guidelines set forth by Gov. Tim Walz.

We will continue to carefully increase our patient volumes while monitoring the COVID-19 activity in our region, as well as monitoring critical supply levels. Patients who are candidates for a previously canceled elective procedure will be notified by the clinic. Patients who will undergo a procedure involving general anesthesia must test negative before the procedure can be done.

Carris Health is beginning to see more patients in person. In many cases, this is the best way to provide the care needed. If you have an upcoming primary or specialty care appointment, we encourage you to keep it. Both in-person and virtual appointments may be offered, including video visits with Carris Health providers.

Whether it’s time for your annual check-up, for preventive screenings such as mammograms or colonoscopies, your child’s immunizations, or for diagnostic procedures like blood tests or cardiac stress tests, your health and the health of your family members is important and you should not postpone necessary care for too long.

If you need care urgently, it’s safe to come in. Our Urgent Care and Emergency Departments are open. Delaying care for serious injuries or acute needs can result in longer-term health issues. If you’re not certain whether you should drive to the ER or call 911 and you’re experiencing an emergency, you should call 9-1-1. It’s important you get to the emergency room as quickly and safely as possible, especially if you’re experiencing chest pain or severe bleeding. This includes any injury or illness for which a lack of immediate treatment may cause harm.

If you are concerned you may have symptoms of coronavirus, you should contact our Carris Health Nurse Line at 320-441-5361 and speak with a nurse who will direct you to the correct care.

While we can’t predict what the next few months will look like as restrictions are removed and businesses reopen, what is certain is that you should not put off getting the care you need – your health is too precious. Continuing to delay or avoid care can lead to much poorer health outcomes, complications or advanced stages of disease in the long run.

This Coronavirus pandemic has changed many things in our lives. Some of those changes have been and will continue to be difficult. However, we are also discovering that there can be positive and innovative changes to the way we deliver healthcare. At Carris, we plan to use these times to not just cope and adapt but to learn and innovate. We will use this crisis to maintain and improve the way we care for rural Minnesota.