Regular checkups and screenings are vital to preserving good health, but UCI Health physicians know that some people are worried about seeking healthcare during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s why all UCI Health medical offices have adopted extensive measures to protect patients and employees from the novel coronavirus. Patients also may choose video visits for many routine appointments.
“We understand that patients are cautious,” says Dr. Regan Chan, a family medicine physician and one of many UCI Health primary care providers practicing throughout Orange County.
“People want to know how they can protect themselves from the virus. We want them to know that the safety of our patients and our staff is our highest priority.”
‘We’re still here’
After the state imposed stay-at-home orders and shuttered all but essential businesses in March, some patients and their providers canceled or rescheduled primary care visits.
Now, Chan and other UCI Health primary care physicians are reaching out to patients through the UCI Health electronic patient record system, MyChart.
“We want patients to know that it is safe to return to our offices,” Chan says. “We want you to know that we’re still here — that we’re here now, and we’ll be here tomorrow to care for you.”
Protecting your health
Patients with some conditions require complex evaluation and follow-up. Diabetic care, for example, involves regular assessment of sugar levels, feet and vision, diet, exercise and more.
To make sure people with diabetes and other conditions stay well, they need to work closely with their doctors to ensure that their treatment plans are adjusted as necessary.
“Our role as primary care providers is to be the patient’s partner in protecting their health,” Chan says. “My role is to educate you about how we can keep you healthy, through individualized exams and discussions.”
New safety protocols
Expect some changes when you visit your UCI Health primary care provider:
- Staggered appointment times to avoid check-in lines
- Reconfigured waiting rooms to allow for physical distancing
- Screening for COVID-19 symptoms at check-in
- All providers and staff wear masks, as well as face shields and gloves during exams
- Thorough cleaning of exam rooms after each patient visit, including countertops, doorknobs, areas around doors, computers and other surfaces
- Regular cleaning of all other areas, including waiting rooms
- Limit of one support person — a parent or caretaker — to accompany a patient in an exam room
- Masks are required of all patients and support persons. One will be provided if needed.
In addition, all UCI Health employees are screened daily for COVID-19. Anyone with a fever is sent home.
Patients who may have been exposed to the virus or think they may be experiencing symptoms of the disease are encouraged to call and set up a virtual visit with their primary care provider.
“If someone has a fever, we’re asking them to stay home and do a video conference first,” Chan says. “If they need testing, we’ll write an order and send them to a drive-up testing center.”
Are physical exams safe?
Is it safe or even possible to get an in-person physical exams? Yes, says Chan.
Masks and the face shield your doctor will be wearing during an examination help prevent the spread of respiratory droplets that might carry the virus.
UCI Health providers also wash their hands before and after every patient examination, providing further protection against any chance of spreading the virus.
People who still feel apprehensive about coming into the office may arrange a virtual visit with their provider by calling or sending an email through MyChart.
With primary care physicians seeing patients in person and virtually at seven UCI Health locations, it’s never been easier to consult a doctor, often on the same day.
“As a patient,” Chan says, “I don’t want to wait a week to get a response."