ANN ARBOR – Michigan Medicine is encouraging patients to seek health care that is time sensitive and is continuing to expand availability of procedures, surgeries and clinic visits.
During the height of the pandemic, many procedures and surgeries were put on hold at Michigan Medicine to create capacity for caring for additional patients with COVID-19. But as that patient demand declines, Michigan Medicine caregivers say it’s important to resume care, especially if delays can make conditions worse.
“It is understandable that people have concerns about leaving their homes and being exposed to COVID-19,” says Jeff Desmond, chief medical officer at Michigan Medicine.
“However, it is just as concerning to us that people may be delaying appropriate care and getting sicker as a result. So we are taking steps, as we always do, to ensure we provide a safe environment for patients and employees in our hospitals and health centers.”
Those precautions include providing masks to all patients, visitors and employees, which must be worn at all times; continuing to screen our patients at our hospitals and clinics for symptoms; moving furniture to encourage social distancing; vigilant attention to cleaning and disinfection; and following established guidelines to minimize the spread of disease.”
Michigan Medicine has been doing life-saving, urgent essential surgeries and procedures for things like cancer or transplants throughout the pandemic.
“But now we are gently increasing our surgery volumes for time-sensitive procedures for patients for whom further delay would create harm,” Desmond said.
“We’re in the active planning stages of expanding the surgeries and procedures we can provide to those patients who are at greatest risk for the progression of their disease. Throughout this pandemic, safety has been a top priority and we have taken many steps to minimize the spread of disease.”
Michigan Medicine will begin offering expanded access to additional surgical and procedural care as it is safe to do so and in line with the State of Michigan temporary restrictions on procedures. Michigan Medicine currently is working to safely increase surgical capacity and reschedule procedures that were cancelled at the height of the pandemic as soon as possible.
The health system has also began gradually increasing outpatient clinic capacity, and many patients can schedule appointments with Michigan Medicine primary care and specialty care providers as Video Visits.
“We’ve dramatically expanded our Video Visit availability across all of our clinics,” said Desmond. “Patients can count on a comprehensive experience with their provider - everything their in-person appointment would normally involve including plenty of time for their provider to understand their needs and answer any questions they have.”
Michigan Medicine emergency departments remain open as well, and have seen some decline in the number of patients. Some physicians are concerned that many people may not be seeking emergency care even when they should, whether it’s for COVID-19 or another urgent medical issue.
“If you are experiencing chest pain, particularly if it’s new chest pain or different chest pain than you’ve had before, don’t ignore it,” says Nicole Bhave, M.D., a cardiologist at the Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center. “Especially if chest pain is accompanied by shortness of breath, sweatiness and clamminess, pain moving to the left arm, or a generally unwell feeling, you should seriously consider calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency room.”
Patients should not hesitate to reach out to care providers to help determine whether and how to seek medical care, says Mark Prince, M.D., chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.
“You don’t have to make these decisions alone. Whether you are experiencing symptoms that concern you, or have questions about rescheduling a procedure that was cancelled, do not hesitate to contact your care provider. They will help you determine next steps that are right for you,” Prince said.