I’ve avoided others throughout the pandemic because of my sarcoidosis. I had thought that if I ever ditched social distancing, it would be to embrace family, but it wasn’t. The first person to touch me since March was a mammography technologist who positioned me for a procedure that was three months overdue.
The surge in telemedicine helped many people continue medical care during the pandemic. I had to forgo a dozen appointments, only one of which could be done remotely. Last week was the first time I’ve entered a healthcare facility since going to my pulmonologist in February. The mammogram and ultrasound were essential because of my increased risk for breast cancer. I felt safe throughout, which encouraged me to begin scheduling other necessary examinations requiring close contact.
Many others have catching up to do as well. In May’s Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll, 48% of Americans said someone in their household skipped or postponed medical care because of the coronavirus outbreak.
I had concerns about resuming in-person care, but safety measures were apparent from the moment I arrived. The changes included:
- People waiting in cars until their scheduled appointment time.
- Everyone was required to wear a mask in the building.
- No visitors accompanied patients.
- Staff performed a contactless temperature reading on everyone during check-in and asked if they had any COVID-19 symptoms.
- Patients were separated from staff by a partition during the check-in process.
- Two pencil holders were stationed at the check-in desk — one marked clean and one marked dirty, to put pens in after use.
- Seating was spaced for social distancing.
- Hand sanitizer was available throughout the building.
All of my sarcoidosis-related appointments at the Cleveland Clinic, which were scheduled for late April and early May, were affected. My neurologist is now offering virtual consultations. My canceled ophthalmology exam can’t be conducted remotely. I also need to be physically present for follow-up examinations with cardiology specialists, and for a tilt-table test, EKG, stress echocardiogram, and cardiac MRI. I scheduled the appointments as part of my efforts to screen for cardiac sarcoidosis, which readers warned me about.
The Cleveland Clinic also now requires masks, performs temperature checks, and prohibits visitors from accompanying patients. All of their changes in response to COVID-19 are detailed in this video. I’m still reluctant to travel, which whether by plane, bus, train, or car carries risks, as NPR reports. I plan to schedule anything my physicians deem immediately necessary at a location nearby.
With all of the new safeguards in place, my recent appointment felt much safer than a trip to the supermarket or a store. If you can’t access telemedicine for crucial healthcare, don’t let fear keep you from obtaining it in person.
Please stay safe and don’t neglect your health.
Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.
- Packing in fun: Thirsty Dice, a board game café in Philadelphia, is helping combat the boredom of staying in with Comfort Crates. Purchasers can pack them with a variety of food, booze, games, and other merchandise, including toilet paper.
- Wining down: Self-isolating has fueled a new trend: virtual wine tastings. If you are interested, Business Insider reports on 17 virtual wine tastings to get you started. Many are free, and some ship wine directly to you as part of the package, according to the article.
- Stand-up kid: If you need a smile, 5-year-old Ollie Teed in Delaware has a joke for you. Teed set up a free joke stand in his neighborhood to make others feel better, according to WMDT. Two of his jokes: “What did the Dalmatian say after lunch? That hit the spot. Get it? Because they have spots.” Or, “What is a cat’s favorite color? Purrrrple.” Teed knows many more, but sometimes forgets and has to look them up in his joke book.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.
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