As stay-at-home orders are lifted within our communities, and as we return to regularly scheduled medical appointments, it is important we don’t turn our backs on prioritizing the control of COVID-19 and instead incorporate added safety measures to our daily routines.
In a recent blog post, we shared 4 Safety Measures to Expect at Your Next Doctor’s Visit outlining how we are ensuring a safe, clean environment for all of our patients. This includes social distancing reminders, personal protective equipment availability, expanded cleaning efforts, and rigorous screenings for patients and staff. But many may be asking how we can go the extra mile to provide safety measures for those with pre-existing conditions.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is determined that adults who are 65 and older and “people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions” are likely at higher risk of COVID-19 complications.
What is considered an underlying – or pre-existing – condition? Pre-existing conditions can include chronic lung disease, asthma, heart conditions, immune deficiencies, transplants, smoking, cancer treatment, diabetes, severe obesity and more.
While we are confident in the safety measures we’ve initiated to keep our patients protected from COVID-19 – especially for those at high-risk – it is important for you to know what your options are and how we can work together to minimize exposure.
- Wear your face mask correctly: When wearing a mask, a person’s mouth and nose should both be completely covered. It is important and required that patients and staff wear face masks at all Ochsner facilities and any place there are other people for the protection of others, especially those vulnerable to COVID-19. Ochsner will provide guidance and signage on appropriate face mask usage, but be empowered to educate friends and family on how to wear a face mask properly, too. And, when you are not at Ochsner, we ask that you wear a face mask in public areas!
- Be serious about social distancing: Ochsner, as well as in other public places across Louisiana, is restructuring and reorganizing areas so that people can stay 6 feet away from others. In order to protect each other and those with pre-existing conditions, we must take these social distancing guidance measures seriously. Social distancing is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19, so making yourself aware of your distance from others and following markers set in place to guide these efforts is crucial to keeping those with pre-existing conditions safe.
- Take advantage of hand sanitizers and wash your hands: We’ve increased the number of available hand sanitizer stations throughout our facilities to accommodate the influx of use, so take advantage of them while you are visiting! These hand sanitizer stations should be used before putting on your face mask, before and after meeting with your provider, before and after eating or drinking, and after touching objects such as elevator buttons, pens and handrails. In addition, it is important to make sure you are washing your hands thoroughly (at least 20 seconds) with soap and water when the opportunity is present, especially after using the restroom. Taking advantage of available hand sanitizer and washing your hands is a precaution that shouldn’t be missed. It provides a necessary extra layer of safety.
- Consider a virtual visit: While we expand our efforts to ensure a safe, clean environment for our patients, setting up a virtual visit is still a care option you can consider with your provider as some routine visits may not require an in-person examination. We encourage you to talk to your provider about what appointment type is best for you.
We are looking forward to providing care for our patients with expanded measures in place to keep them safe. However, it is up to us and our patients to work together to strictly follow these guidelines and protocols so that we can play a role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our patients with pre-existing conditions – both within our facilities and out in our communities.
The information in this blog post is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it's possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our blog posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.
Make an appointment with Ochsner today.