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Catch up on preventive care

by Andrea Nagel
| May 6, 2020 1:11 AM

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people decided to delay non-emergent health care appointments until the stay-home orders began to lift. For you and your family, that may have meant avoiding some routine doctor’s visits. But now that restrictions are easing up, it’s time to catch up on any preventive health services you missed.

A good way to stay healthy

Preventive care includes screening tests, vaccines and wellness checkups that help you stay healthy. Preventive care includes things like:

• Mammograms and pap tests for women.

• Screenings for heart disease and cancer.

• Childhood vaccines and well-child visits.

• Flu and pneumonia shots.

• Routine checkups where you can get advice about diet, exercise and safety.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, every health plan covers preventive care services like these. So don’t put them off. It’s safe to visit your doctor again — and doing so helps keep you and your family healthy.

Because we still need to take precautions when leaving our homes, be sure to contact your provider’s office before heading to your appointment. Many offices require patients to:

• Wear a mask upon arrival.

• Wait in their car until a room is ready.

• Check in with the office staff prior to the appointment to rule out potential COVID-19 exposure.

If you are visiting an urgent care facility, patients are encouraged to schedule their appointments online ahead of time. Many primary care and urgent care sites have implemented “car waiting.” Patients who arrive will wait in special parking areas until a room is ready for their exam, eliminating the use of the waiting room. In addition, many offices are limiting visitors. Adults who can come alone should. Pediatric patients or adults who require assistance should bring one adult chaperone or escort.

Medical care from home

Telemedicine was becoming popular before COVID-19 as a handy way for people to visit with a medical provider. But with the arrival of the pandemic and social distancing, the virtual office visit is gaining even more fans.

Telemedicine is using your computer, phone, or other mobile device to have a medical visit with your provider. Benefits include:

• Not having to travel to a distant office.

• Less contact with other people. That’s particularly helpful in the age of COVID-19.

• The possibility of seeing a faraway medical specialist without having to travel.

Telemedicine can provide people in both cities and rural areas with access to safe and effective care when and where they need it.

If you’re not sure if you should go to your physician’s office, contact them directly to see what your options are.

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Kootenai Health and the Panhandle Health District are actively working to share information about COVID-19 with our community. You can find the latest updates and ways to protect yourself at cdc.gov/covid19. If you have questions about COVID-19 or think you may have the virus, call the Panhandle Health District COVID-19 hotline at 1-877-415-5225.

Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; HealthCare.gov