One of the important public health responses to COVID-19 here in Massachusetts and around the country was to keep people at home. That meant many doctor’s offices and other health care providers were limited to seeing only the most urgent cases in-person in their offices. Hospitals also limited non-urgent or elective surgeries and procedures to convert units and other resources to treating COVID-19 patients. These changes helped ensure our health care providers had the ability to respond to the pandemic and protected against the risk of transmission in health care settings during the peak of cases.
Starting this week, as numbers have started to improve, Governor Baker announced new rules to loosen the restrictions on in-person medical visits for non-urgent visits and what procedures can now be performed. This means people will have multiple options for seeing their health care providers going forward. Telehealth is still an option and is being encouraged when appropriate. In addition, it will now be possible to go to in-person visits at doctors’ offices for when that is more appropriate. Additionally, family members will begin to be able to visit loved ones in hospitals, nursing homes and other residential settings while adhering to the state’s safety guidelines.
We know that during the height of the pandemic, many people felt fear or anxiety about going to the doctor or getting health care treatment. Unfortunately, that may have led some people to go without care they needed. The first step for people getting care should still be to call your doctor or clinic to find out what they recommend. In-person visits are now a safe option, with doctors’ offices and clinics required to follow strict safety protocols. If you are someone who sees your doctor regularly to treat and manage a chronic condition, if you have children that should see their pediatrician, or if you or your children are due for immunizations, now is a good time to reach out to your doctor to find out the best way to get care!
For more information on the Governor’s plan to loosen restrictions on health care provider practices go to: https://www.mass.gov/doc/reopening-massachusetts-health-and-human-services-phase-2-one-pager/download.