One particular medical condition has dominated conversations this year: the coronavirus. Not only is it infecting thousands and claiming lives around the world, but it is also disrupting other aspects of health care for residents of Cedar Rapids and elsewhere, including those receiving palliative care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice continues to take precautions to help our clients – and our staff – avoid possible infection. This includes keeping surfaces sanitized and encouraging similar safety behaviors.
We also have been involved in educating our clients to take precautions themselves when we’re not around, such as social distancing at the store or on errands, wearing masks, and more. Since many of our clients are in higher-risk groups due to age or health conditions, many of them are happy to take these extra safety steps. It can reduce their risk of getting infected and also cut down on chances of spreading to others around them.
Another interesting aspect of COVID-19 is how it is affecting other areas of health care.
For instance, most hospitals, medical centers, and clinics have instituted complex procedures for visitors and patients to get in and out, even for routine visits. You’re often quizzed about your recent medical conditions or activities before you can come inside, and you may have your temperature taken.
There are fewer seats in many waiting rooms, more sanitizer stations, and more “social distance” measurements along main walkways. Some medical offices even require patients to wait in their cars or outside until they are called, rather than in the waiting room. Or access for any family members or companions may be restricted.
It makes sense: most medical offices were already extra conscious of the importance of sanitation and hygiene and often had better practices in place than other establishments such as restaurants or offices. So it wasn’t that hard for them to add pm a few more levels of security.
One area where medical professionals have changed their focus on is certain medical procedures.
During the initial outbreak in spring, many medical centers put all their efforts into preparing for a possible spike in COVID cases. This includes setting up all the protocols that are mostly in place now and figuring out how to protect patients and staff.
Because of this effort to deal with such a new pandemic, this meant that many less crucial minimally invasive or outpatient procedures were put on hold. This let staff put more effort into critical care cases and also had less people in the buildings. This meant fewer areas to regularly disinfect or take precautions for. Plus, lowering the priority of these cases made sure the location had beds available for COVID patients.
By summer, some facilities began to offer these again, especially as health restrictions were lowered in some states and local communities. Even though the numbers of COVID cases grew in some areas, most health facilities had protocols in place so felt comfortable offering less urgent procedures.
As long as the health protocols were taken care of, most facilities were happy to offer these types of surgical services again. Not being able to offer them, even for a few months, likely hurt the financial bottom line of some medical centers. Because the focus was on COVID preparation some facilities even had to lay off some of their staff. But with the return of these in a safer setting it could be excellent news for everyone.
Some locations may still have restrictions in place, but it may take the provider urging the medical center to make a case a higher priority in order to be admitted, or arranging the paperwork to learn if a procedure can be offered somewhere else like another medical center in the area or even at his or her office.
Interestingly, one area of medicine that has also been impacted by COVID-19 has been continuing education. Though online training is becoming more and more available, many of the in-person events and conferences that many providers look forward to annually are on hold or in much smaller formats.
For instance, the Society of Laparoscopic & Robotic Surgeons typically holds an MIS Week conference and an annual meeting each summer, designed to share strategies to help them all better perform minimally invasive surgeries. This includes discussing procedures as well as new equipment that can help surgeons better operate remotely. This method leads to less pain, less scarring, and less recovery time, which are all good things for patients.
However, MIS Week 2020, which was set for late August in Hawaii, had to be canceled due to health and safety concerns. Planners didn’t want to potentially expose each other to possible infection during the event or coming and going on airlines. Plus Hawaii has some of the strongest health restrictions for people coming and going.
People who may need minimally invasive surgeries are encouraged to talk to the provider and learn about their safety procedures, including how the equipment is sanitized and staff takes precautions.