While the times are unprecedented, people are continually learning something new amid the pandemic — like how to safely step out of the house and visit the doctor for other health issues, for instance. While most doctors insist on tele-consultations these days, there are some situations which require you to visit the hospital and check with a doctor in person. As such, you need to be aware of some basic things, so as to keep yourself safe, and not fret unnecessarily either.
Dr Anita Mathew, Senior Consultant Physician & Infectious Disease Specialist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, says the first and foremost precaution is to maintain social distancing and safety for yourself and others. “Follow guidelines issued by governing bodies and medical authorities, and seek medical aid on time. Visit your doctor when necessary, avoid delaying treatment as prolonging an issue may aggravate the condition.”
She suggests we keep the following basic safety rules in mind:
* Before stepping out, make sure to take prior appointments with your doctor. It is strongly advised to avoid queuing up. Call the hospital to check if appointments are to be booked online or over the phone. Wearing a mask is mandatory, carry an alcohol-based sanitizer, gloves, as well as wet wipes. It is best to carry your own bottle of water from home.
* To accompany you to your appointment, it is recommended that only one other healthy person comes along to avoid overcrowding. Those experiencing any symptoms of cough and cold should preferably stay indoors. Pregnant women, older adults and children should refrain from visiting a hospital unless it is of utmost urgency.
* To pay for your transport, go cashless. Digital transactions will minimize the risk of you coming in exchange with paper money.
* While at the hospital, the first thing you should do is ensure at least two feet space between you and another person. There could be a high possibility of you coming in contact with infected people, and even though hospitals have dedicated wards, it is best to practise social distancing and safety. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after meeting with your doctor.
* Even though hospitals adhere to immense sanitation practices, pay attention to protocols recommended by the staff.
* For your consultation, carry all necessary health documents and reports to avoid wasting your appointment time. You may write down all the details to be shared with your consultant or the questions you’d wish to ask to avoid any uncertainty or confusion. Share all information pertaining to your medical history or condition for accurate diagnosis.
* If one has symptoms of fever, they need to go to dedicated fever clinics which are present in most hospitals, instead of going to the routine OPD. This reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection.
What you need to ask when you meet with your doctor:
1. Discuss the hygiene practices that you follow, at home and in a social setting, check with the doctor if you are missing a crucial hygiene practice that could help prevent the contraction of the COVID-19 infection.
2. Discuss the follow-up appointment, check with the doctor if you could opt for a tele/video consultation over a physical consult at the hospital.
When inside the hospital, keep these things in mind:
– Do not wear masks with valves; these are strictly to be avoided. Opt for a three ply homemade or store-bought mask instead.
– To make a payment at the hospital, cashless payments are the recommended mode of transaction.
– For your commute back home, follow the same steps as your commute to the hospital.
– Once home, take off your shoes at the door, disinfect any door knobs or surfaces you may have touched. Safely dispose of your mask, head to the bathroom and remove your clothes. Add them to warm water with detergent to wash. Take a bath with warm water using soap and scrub thoroughly.
“Hospitals are now allowing limited visitation, follow the guidelines and do not breach or create problems, it will only put you at risk. Also, it is important for you to not fear the virus; let your doctor be your guide. Stay cautious, stay safe,” Dr Mathew concludes.