May 21, 2020
We have been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for a few months now, and it seems that we’re finally seeing some positive results here in New Jersey and across the country. As a result of the courage and tenacity of our health care heroes across Hackensack Meridian Health and beyond, along with the stay home and social distancing efforts of the community, we are seeing a downward trend in COVID-19 patients.
For many, those weeks of social distancing and staying at home may have meant postponing a surgery or procedure. Health care needs are too important to put on hold because of COVID-19. Here are some signs that it’s time to get back to the hospital to get care now:
1. You’re Feeling Symptoms That Could be the Sign of an Emergency
If your medical issue has progressed and you’re feeling any symptoms that would normally warrant a trip to the Emergency Department, it’s no different now. Emergency care should never be postponed, and hospitals are taking special precautions to make sure patients stay safe. Some of those emergency symptoms include*:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Chest pain
- Sudden onset of vision and balance problems, numbness or weakness
- Allergic reactions
- Passing out or fainting
- Bleeding that cannot be stopped
- Displaced or open wound fractures
Read more about when it’s the right time to go to the Emergency Department.
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider or call 9-1-1 for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
2. Your Surgery or Procedure is Going to Improve Your Well-Being
Many states, including New Jersey, put a temporary hold on non-emergent and elective surgeries and procedures, however, the NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) announced that effective Tuesday, May 26, 2020, health care providers will be able to resume these activities.
If you recently postponed an important surgery or procedure due to the pandemic, now’s the time to get care. The NJDOH developed certain parameters for hospitals so that surgeries and procedures are always done with caution. These parameters include directives such as regularly screening and removal of symptomatic employees, social distancing, masking, providing non-COVID zones, and rigorous cleaning and disinfecting. Hospitals across the state are taking these directions very seriously. There’s no reason to delay getting the care you need to feel your best and enjoy life.
3. You are Due for an Important Screening or Diagnostic Test
Regular preventive health screenings, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, PAP smears or lung cancer screenings are crucial in identifying potential issues early and giving you the best chance at a positive outcome. Screenings check for signs of disease before you have any symptoms. The earlier your doctor finds any problems, the easier they are to treat.
In addition, if you have a history of health concerns or your doctor has identified you as a high-risk individual and requested you go for diagnostic testing (such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) or CT angiogram, if you’re at high risk for cardiac problems), it is critical that you do this in a timely manner. Early identification will always give you the best chance at managing, and potentially reversing disease.
4. You’ve Reviewed Your Hospital’s Safety Protocols and Feel Safe
Hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics and all other points of care throughout the state and country should be redesigned to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Make sure that you review what your local health care partner is doing so you feel comfortable and safe going in for care. Here’s what you can expect at Hackensack Meridian Health:
- Separate treatment areas within our hospitals for patients who test negative for COVID-19.
- A safe triage process for all patients in our Emergency Departments.
- Temperature monitoring for all patients, visitors and team members who enter our facilities.
- Rigorous cleaning and sanitizing at all facilities, including the use of ultraviolet (UV) light cleaning and fogging. Hackensack Meridian partnered with a nationally recognized, third-party organization to oversee these significant efforts, including the testing of air, water and surfaces to make sure they’re safe for our patients and team members.
- Testing all patients admitted to our hospitals for COVID-19.
- Providing masks to our patients, visitors, team members, and physicians and requiring them to wear the masks when at our facilities.
- Ensuring our team members have the appropriate personal protective equipment.
- Practicing social distancing throughout our facilities wherever possible.
- Practicing tried and true best practices for infection prevention, including rigorous hand hygiene.
- Restricting visitation at all our hospitals and nursing and rehabilitation facilities, consistent with directives from the state of New Jersey.
5. You Have A Plan
Things are a little different when heading to the doctor’s office or hospital nowadays but know that the extra steps are in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and create the safest experience possible. You should still expect the same great care, just a little different, to help keep everyone safe.
If you have a plan – seeing the doctor can be easy and seamless. Here are some things you should know before visiting a Hackensack Meridian Health facility:
Before You Visit for a Planned Procedure
- Talk to your care team about where you are going to park and enter before going to your visit.
- Try to plan all your visits together with your appointment like labs or X-rays.
- If your care includes a stay at the hospital, work with your doctor or primary nurse to come up with a clear plan on how to communicate with family members, since visitation is restricted.
- If you are scheduled for a surgery or invasive procedure, you will be tested for COVID-19 beforehand and may receive a chest x-ray to rule out any signs of infection.
- If your test comes back positive, your care plan should be discussed with your physician who may decide to further postpone your procedure.
- If your test comes back negative, you’ll receive care in a non-COVID zone.
When You Arrive for a Planned Procedure
- Wear a cloth face covering or mask to your appointment. If you don’t have a surgical mask, one will be provided when you arrive, and you’ll be asked to wear it.
- Your temperature will be taken upon arrival.
- If you have a fever of 100°F or greater, you’ll be moved to an isolated area.
- When possible, we will assign patients to private rooms. If you must share a room and test negative for COVID-19, you’ll only be paired with other patients who tested negative.
For the safety of our patients and team members, visitors are currently restricted at all Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals. Visitation exceptions will be made in certain situations, where partners in care are needed, including:
- Pediatric care
- Patients with a disability
- Ambulatory Care/Same day surgery (one visitor)
- Maternity/Labor and delivery (one visitor)
To reduce the number of people in waiting areas, all partners in care and family members will be contacted via phone by the surgeon or primary nurse with any updates.
We encourage family and friends to make phone calls and video chats with their loved ones in the hospital.
Next Steps & Resources
If you’re in need of care, don’t wait. Many times, delaying care can lead to worse problems and potential long-term health concerns. We are here and we are ready for you!
- Taking Kids to the Emergency Department During COVID-19 Outbreak
- Your Top 8 Questions About Telemedicine Answered
- Don’t Resist Going to the Emergency Room: Here’s Why
- Meet our Clinical Contributor: Daniel W. Varga, M.D., Chief Physician Executive at Hackensack Meridian Health.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.