DETROIT – Michigan hospitals and doctor’s offices are reopening for nonessential medical procedures and visits, but because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), those appointments won’t look like they used to.
Henry Ford Health officials said medical centers and hospitals are having to adjust policies to keep workers and patients safe. That means everything from routine checkups to emergency room visits will look different than the last time you came in.
“Although this is a scary time, we want to assure patients that every precaution we make is to ensure their experience is both the safest and highest quality that it can be,” said Betty Chu, M.D., chief quality officer for Henry Ford Health System.
Chu said the following six changes are taking place at Henry Ford hospitals, specifically.
Health screenings at all entrances
Everyone entering a facility, including staff members, will have their temperature taken and be checked for symptoms of COVID-19.
Anyone who shows signs of possible illness will be referred to the appropriate medical staff.
“To ensure all employees within Henry Ford Health System are ready to care for you, we do a temperature and symptoms check every day,” Chu said. “If any symptoms are discovered, the employee is immediately sent home -- no exceptions.”
Pay attention to signs outside of Henry Ford locations.
Some entrances have been closed to make it easier to screen patients and help direct them to the right location or department within the building while maintaining social distance from others.
For the time being, it’s best to limit the number of people in the buildings. If you need someone to accompany you to an appointment, only bring one person, if possible.
It’s important for all patients to stay six feet away from each other, Chu said.
Waiting rooms will now have appropriate space between chairs or dividers put up to create more separation.
You might also notice signs on the floor marking out where to stand in line at pharmacies or front reception desks.
If you’re unclear on what you need to do, be sure to ask.
Hand washing and PPE
In addition to making sure the entire care team is healthy, all staff will continue to regularly wash hands every time they interact with a new patient, Chu said.
For patients, hand sanitizer is available throughout Henry Ford facilities to be used at any point during a visit.
Depending on their role and the situation, they might also wear face masks or other personal protective equipment for their own safety.
There is still a chance someone can have the virus but show no symptoms. To avoid possibly exposing others, patients should ear face masks as an extra safety precaution. If you don’t have a mask, one will be provided.
Exam rooms are thoroughly cleaned between patient visits and are held to the highest level of disinfecting standards, Chu said.
Common areas, such as waiting rooms, are also sanitized frequently.
Anyone going in for a procedure or surgery will be tested for COVID-19. The test is necessary to make sure extra precautions are taken to keep surgical rooms safe and hospital staff protected.
“No matter what level of care you need, know we’ve made every effort to put you at the center of what we do,” Chu said
Virtual appointments available
If you are still worried about going to the doctor, or it’s not necessary to be seen in person, virtual care visits allow you to connect with a doctor for various typical appointments or follow-up visits.
If you need a prescription, the pharmacy can deliver medications to your home for free.
If you are looking for for minor health concerns, Henry Ford’s walk-in clinics let patients reserve appointment slots online and keep them updated on wait times to eliminate extra time in waiting rooms.
Don’t let the COVID-19 pandemic prevent you from seeking care when you need it, Chu said. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.