The doctor is in
The long-awaited reopening of many services and businesses that were closed during the COVID-19 shutdown in Massachusetts has begun. This means we can schedule our much-needed appointments, including visits to many medical offices and services that are reopening in what Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is calling Phase I.
The types of health and medical services that will be open on May 19, 2020 under Phase I include:
- High-priority preventive visits that can lead to high risk, if they are put off, such as pediatric visits, chronic disease management visits, and placement of implantable contraception.
- Diagnostic procedures where delay would lead to risk, such as mammograms for women with prior concerning findings, biopsy for concerning lesions/potential cancers.
- Physical exams for new concerning symptoms, such as in-person examination for chest pain, blurred vision or a breast lump.
- Medical procedures that, if deferred, lead to substantial worsening of the condition, such as removal of malignant skin lesions, and orthopedic procedures for significant functional impairment.
- In-person visits for high-risk behavioral health and/or social disorders, such as substance use disorder treatment and Medication Assisted Treatment.
- Rehabilitation, where delay would lead to significant worsening of the condition, such as rehabilitation for stroke patients or severe traumatic injuries and post-operative physical therapy.
The watch-word for services and visits that are included in Phase I is “high-risk.” Preventive, diagnostic, procedural, behavioral and rehabilitation visits that are not for high-risk issues are excluded from the governor’s Phase I plan. Providers are encouraged to continue the use of telehealth for these visits.
“Individuals with non-emergency health needs should call their healthcare provider, who will use their clinical judgment to determine if a procedure or service should be done in person in the immediate future,” reads a directive on the state website mass.gov.
If you are not sure if your condition or concern is covered under the in-person visits included in Phase I, call your doctor’s office. They are fully staffed and ready to answer your questions.
Ready to Serve You
The reopening of essential health services for issues other than COVID-19, means many patients can finally receive in-person treatment for high-risk conditions, said Cape Cod Healthcare President and CEO Michael Lauf.
“In order to ensure that our hospitals and other facilities were prepared for the proper treatment of COVID-19 patients, we suspended the operation of many other treatment areas. We did so knowing that many patients would have to put off care for their conditions, and it was an extremely tough decision, but one dictated by a pandemic the likes of which we have not seen in over a century,” he said.
“With the help and support from residents on the Cape, who heeded the governor’s orders to stay home except for essential trips, stay physically distant from others outside their household, and wash hands and refrain from touching their face, we have been able to slow and manage the progression of this outbreak.”
Now is the time for people to address the health concerns they may have put off, Lauf said.
“I’m delighted to say our hospitals, doctors’ offices, urgent care centers, rehabilitation and other facilities are prepared to greet you in immaculately cleaned and maintained spaces, with strict protocols in place to ensure patient safety at all times,” he said. “The same quality, compassionate care you have come to know is waiting to address your concerns and give you comfort.”
To those who may still be wary of contracting COVID-19 in a medical facility, Lauf said Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital effectively manage infectious diseases every single day, now and in the past.
“We are confidently reopening many of our inpatient and outpatient doors to you,” he said. “Our providers and care staff have always operated within evidence-based guidelines in everything they do. We have added effective measures for COVID-19 care, which is dictated by leading health organizations, the federal CDC and state Department of Public Health.”
Here is what you can expect to see when you come for your visit to Cape Cod Hospital or Falmouth Hospital, and other CCHC facilities:
- The use of masks and face coverings by everyone in the facility.
- Screening of possible COVID-19 symptoms for all incoming patients.
- Separate care zones for COVID and non-COVID care.
- Social distancing measures in waiting rooms and other areas.
- Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of all areas.
- Continued restrictions for hospital visitors.