Editor’s note: This article was published in June 2020. Please check with the CDC or your local health department for the most up-to-date guidelines in your area.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced new guidelines to help you stay safe when visiting your doctor or getting a prescription filled. In this article, we’ll outline some of the most important takeaways to help you stay safe during healthcare-related trips. More specifically, we’ll also share how those tips can be applied for people who are dealing with cancer.
As local governments loosen coronavirus restrictions and more businesses re-open their doors, it’s important for people to continue practicing preventive actions in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. These new guidelines from the CDC are designed to help you make an informed decision on when it’s appropriate to venture out of your home, and how to protect yourself and others when you do decide to go out.
THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR HEALTHCARE-RELATED TRIPS
1. Consider telehealth/touchless options
The first key takeaway from the CDC guidelines on visiting your doctor is to find out whether your healthcare provider offers any telehealth options. Many doctor’s offices have telehealth programs that allow you to do a virtual video chat with a physician. It may also be possible to speak with your healthcare provider through secure communication lines using telephone or email.
If you need to pick up a prescription, check to see if your pharmacy offers touchless services like drive-thru, curbside pickup or mail-order delivery. You can also ask your doctor if it’s safe for them to prescribe a larger supply than normal, so you won’t need to refill the prescription as often.
For cancer patients in particular, we are strong advocates for moving forward with your care in a timely and safe manner. In some cases, this may be as simple as a phone call to your physician, who determines that a delay in treatment is appropriate. Others may need to avoid delays in cancer treatment. Whether you choose in-person or telehealth, a consultation with an oncologist (or two) will help cancer patients make an informed decision about the timeliness of their treatment.
2. Practice preventive actions
If you decide to visit your doctor in person, there a few simple things you can do while out in public to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. These include washing your hands often, social distancing, and covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover. We encourage you to review the CDC’s guidelines on face coverings to better understand when and how to wear them, as well as which groups of people should not wear them.
3. Keep a few items handy
When visiting your doctor, the CDC guidelines suggest having the following items on hand:
- Cloth face covering
- Tissues (to help you avoid touching your face)
- Hand sanitizer (should contain at least 60% alcohol)
For the safety of patients, employees and visitors, many doctor’s offices now require you to wear a face covering inside their facilities. If you do not have your own face covering, most medical clinics will be happy to provide one for you upon arrival. As an added precaution be sure to wash your hands frequently and take advantage of any hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the facility.
TIPS FOR OTHER ESSENTIAL TRIPS
Aside from medical visits, there are plenty of other reasons to leave your home. Whether it’s running errands, dining out, or going to the park, the CDC has guidelines for just about every situation.
Most importantly, if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever, cough or shortness of break, the CDC recommends you stay home and avoid in-person contact with others. Try taking advantage of delivery services and online options for common errands like grocery shopping, take-out dining or banking.
Some of the CDC’s other guidelines are universal no matter what your reason for going out, including wearing a cloth face covering, social distancing, using hand sanitizer while out and about, and washing your hands when you get home.