Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird today shared recommendations on how to safely visit medical providers for routine care or previously scheduled appointments for health issues unrelated to COVID-19. She was joined by Lincoln City Council member Roy Christensen, a professional audiologist and owner of Christensen Hearing Analytics.
Because of the pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that healthcare facilities and clinicians prioritize urgent and emergency visits and procedures in order to preserve personal protective equipment and supplies, ensure staff and patient safety, and maintain hospital capacity. Using the CDC guidance, decisions about proceeding with nonessential surgeries and procedures continue to be made at the local level.
“As members of our community seek to access medical services unrelated to COVID-19, many may wonder how and when they should address other important health care needs, like routine medical checkups or dental work,” Mayor Gaylor Baird said. “These are important questions, and we appreciate residents taking the time to find answers that will keep them safe and healthy and will help our healthcare system continue to perform well.”
Because every person’s situation is different, residents are encouraged to communicate with their health care providers about options for routine checkups, procedures, or elective surgeries. Residents without a regular health care provider can contact the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department at 402-441-8006 for advice.
"It is a matter of weighing the risk taken in keeping the appointment against the benefit of that appointment," said Mayor Gaylor Baird. "Many medical practices have been communicating with patients who do not need urgent care to see if they would forego their appointments. They are addressing needs like prescription refills and medical guidance by phone. They are using telehealth, including online chat and live videoconferencing tools. These technologies are secure and private, and they meet all privacy law compliance requirements."
Christensen said healthcare offices across Lincoln have implemented additional office protocols to help keep both patients and staff safe. At his office, those include telephone screening, having only one patient in the office at a time, practicing physical distancing as much as possible, and disinfecting of work surfaces. He said Christensen Hearing Analytics is also providing outside-the-office help like curbside service, home appointments, and even remote programming for the newest hearing instruments.
"Ultimately each of us is responsible for our own health and that of our household," Christensen said. "I encourage all of us to use our best judgement to protect each other so we can emerge as soon as reasonably possible from this crisis. This is not the time to let up on our efforts. Let's not quit before we cross the finish line, even if we don't know where that line is at the moment."
The Mayor and Christensen thanked the front-line medical personnel for their courage, flexibility, and hard work during this health emergency. And they stressed that considerations to postpone medical treatment pertain only to routine or elective appointments. Those who are newly ill or injured should contact a doctor or urgent care center or hospital. Call 911 immediately for all life-threatening conditions.
More information on the City's response to COVID-19 is available at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov.