Keeping Up With Your Healthcare is Important — Especially Now!

Author: Susan Cumming, MD, SFHM, Medical Director, Quality, Safety, and Risk Management

COVID-19 has changed so much in our lives, including typical experiences we have with our doctors and hospitals.

Before COVID-19, you may not have noticed certain things when visiting medical spaces: the gathering of fellow patients in waiting areas; the multitude of frequently touched surfaces; the proximity between patient and caregivers in the exam or hospital room; the number of people walking through the hospital or visiting loved ones. It all grabs our attention now that we are focusing on reducing the spread of this virus, for which we have no vaccine and no cure.

Masks, physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and surface sanitizing were not in wide practice among the general public pre-pandemic. And these safety measures would have seemed extreme at the time. Now, they are part of our daily lives.

Pandemic or not, these same public health measures have been routine in healthcare for many years. Caregivers are accustomed to wearing masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), and they practice sanitizing and handwashing procedures before and after every encounter with patients. Patient safety and infection control require strict protocols and have always been among the highest priorities in hospitals and physician offices.

As we’ve learned more about the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, we have implemented rigorous precautions and innovative protocols to ensure the safety of patients and caregivers in MarinHealth Medical Center and MarinHealth Medical Network clinics. We follow CDC-recommended guidelines for screenings, fever checks, and limiting the number of people in a given space.

We are confident that we provide the highest level of infection control and safety. We are also monitoring critical resources, such as number of available beds, ventilators, testing and PPE supplies.

Even so, some people are afraid to get care in the ER, hospital, lab, and doctors’ offices. Across the country, hospitals have seen an extreme decline in ER visits for life-threatening conditions such as stroke and heart attack; and physicians are seeing fewer patients than ever before.

This concern is understandable but maintaining good health is essential, and with or without COVID-19, people should seek the care they need, when they need it. Your risk for or diagnosis of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses is the same as it was before the pandemic. And someone with a weakened immune system and/or other undetected or untreated medical issue(s) can be at higher risk for COVID-19. It’s critical to continue to treat chronic illness and follow up on new or emerging concerns right away.

MarinHealth is here for you, for all of your healthcare needs. MarinHealth Medical Center is open for emergent and elective surgeries and procedures, and our clinics have resumed operations with both video and in-person provider visits. In addition, more time is scheduled between in-person appointments to allow for physical distancing and enhanced cleaning. With safety precautions in place throughout MarinHealth, you can feel safe in getting the healthcare you need.

A complete list of enhanced safety precautions is available on our website, including: universal masking for all patients and staff, enhanced sanitation, added handwashing stations, and even the use of ultraviolet disinfecting robots. Patients and staff are screened or tested for COVID-19, and a limited visitor policy is in place.

While we navigate the path of the ongoing pandemic, including recent spikes in cases, it’s imperative to do our part by following public health safety measures: staying home, keeping a safe distance from others, wearing a face covering or mask, and washing hands frequently. Now is not the time to ease up. Please stay the course and wear a mask when outside of your home to help reduce the number of infections in our community. Together, we can make a difference.