New protocols in place to ensure safety
After more than a month, health care providers are resuming nonurgent patient visits and surgeries — with added layers of safety protections.
Providers are working to contact patients to reschedule appointments, but the coronavirus-related backlog combined with careful adherence to new infection protection steps can mean delays. Providers’ offices advise that patients should feel free to call to schedule an appointment or message a provider through their free MyNortonChart account.
“We have systems in place to maximize safety,” said Ryan J. Krupp, M.D., orthopedic surgeon with Norton Orthopedic Institute. “We’re here for patients; we’re anxious and excited to get back and be able to take care of them in the way that we have become accustomed to. If you need something from us, please reach out … we’ll use all the tools we have at our disposal to get the job done.”
Norton Healthcare providers are working to reschedule patients and determine whether they need to come in or could take advantage of a Norton Telehealth video or phone visit.
“We have about 500 patients we’re contacting to make these appointments. Patients also should feel free to contact their providers so we can get them in,” said Christina M. Breit, M.D., internal medicine physician and a primary care provider with Norton Community Medical Associates – Mallard Creek.
Many providers have extended their availability into the evenings and on weekends.
“Most doctors are going to be open and more accessible than they were before this, just realizing the needs of patients who have maybe cut off some routine follow-ups that are now no longer routine,” Dr. Breit said.
According to Dr. Breit, as patients come in, she’s been seeing signs of delayed care — patients with more than just one acute issue or an issue that has been more involved than the patient initially thought when making the appointment.
For patients needing surgery or specialist care, providers are working with patients who already were scheduled for an appointment and weighing that with the urgency of the patient’s condition.
“We’re opening the doors; we’re bringing more patients in now; we’re using Norton Telehealth when appropriate. So call, get back on the books. It’s safe,” Dr. Krupp said.
Preparation for surgery is similar to the previous process, and safeguards have been added to protect patients and staff from the coronavirus.
Pre-admission work is being done remotely when possible, and all patients are being screened for COVID-19 when they’re scheduled for a procedure.
“We’ve got that information that we can then use to make sure that we are making decisions about surgery appropriately with each patient individually and taking precautions to minimize any risks,” Dr. Krupp said.