It’s safe to return to the doctor.
Millions of medical appointments and screenings have been cancelled or postponed during the pandemic because facilities closed or patients were too nervous to go to the doctor’s office. As people start to return to the doctor, we asked several Northside experts their advice on where they should start. What screenings should they get first? And is it safe to even go to the doctor?
In part four of the series, we spoke with Dr. Lauren H. Randall of Ravry Medical Group, a Northside network provider. Read what she says below.
What trends have you seen over the past year in your own practice?
We've had some patients postpone appointments, especially when COVID-19 numbers are high. But we've also had many patients continue to come in regularly to get the primary care they need for chronic conditions, acute concerns, and preventive care.
We take care of people after hospital discharge for COVID-related admissions, help them navigate the after-effects of COVID-19, address concerns related to vaccines, and help make risk-benefit decisions for families on how to make it through the pandemic while staying healthy and sane. For the most part, we've been lucky to be able to focus on the regular primary care that everyone still needs.
Why are regular check-ups important?
It can be easy to get so busy with work, family responsibilities, and all of life's pressures (especially during a pandemic!) that taking care of your own health can take a back seat. Sometimes patients are shy about showing up with a list of questions and concerns, but that's exactly what we're here for! A check-up is a chance to bring up things that have been worrying you about your health, as well as physical or mental health symptoms that have been putting a damper on your quality of life. We also make sure you're up to date on cancer screenings, routine labs, vaccines, and how to incorporate physically and mentally healthy habits into your lifestyle.
“A check-up is a chance to bring up things that have been worrying you about your health, as well as physical or mental health symptoms that have been putting a damper on your quality of life,” says Dr. Randall.
What should you do if you missed your physical during COVID-19?
We understand! Even knowing how important primary care is, and feeling safe in my own workplace, I waited until I was vaccinated, and then had some catching up to do scheduling a physical and dental and eye doctor appointments for myself.
If it's been awhile since your last physical, go ahead and call to schedule one, and bring any questions and concerns you have with you. There may be screenings or preventive care you aren't aware you're due for that we can help you catch up on.
Is it safe to go to the doctor? What advice do you have for patients who are still too nervous?
Honestly, I've felt safe at my workplace throughout the pandemic, and feel that our precautions are stringent enough that I've felt comfortable reassuring even elderly and at-risk patients that they are safe to come in, even before vaccines were available.
We screen for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure (and only conduct virtual visits for patients with either), masks are required for staff and patients, we clean rooms between visits, and space patients out in the waiting room and lab area. You can always ask what precautions a practice is taking and if your provider is vaccinated.
Of course, being vaccinated is your best protection against COVID-19 and can help you feel even safer at the doctor, but if you haven't been vaccinated yet, we are still happy to see you and address any concerns about COVID-19 vaccines as well as address your other needs. We offer phone and telemedicine visits. Check with your insurance provider to be sure they cover virtual visits.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I love working in primary care and feel lucky to have been able to continue working in person throughout the pandemic and providing people a home base for their health care needs. I enjoy getting to know my patients, and it's important to me that they feel understood and that they have an action plan for concerns they've brought to me.
During this time that's stressful and uncertain for everyone, I'm always happy to be a sounding board for navigating COVID-19 risks, addressing concerns about the vaccine, or to just provide the primary care you need and can rely on.