Apr 10, 2020

Interviewer: Seeking medical care for something that is not COVID-19. Dr. Richard Orlandi is the Chief Medical Officer of Ambulatory Care at University of Utah Health. And you know what? COVID-19 is the topic of the day, but other health concerns do go on. So what should a person do if they need to seek care for something other than COVID-19 in this COVID-19 world?

Dr. Orlandi: So what we're asking patients to do is to contact us and see how we can get that appointment done. Our commitment to our patients is unwavering. We want to make sure our patients are taken care of in the safest way possible. And right now, with physical distancing, that may not be best done in a face-to-face, in-person encounter.

For urgent conditions, when something really needs to be taken care of, that's still going to be the way it needs to be done. But if we can avoid a face-to-face encounter, if we can talk over the phone, if we can talk through a video chat, or if we can postpone that appointment, that's what we're talking about for all conditions.

Interviewer: Dr. Orlandi goes on to say, if you do have a true life-threatening emergency, though, you should do what you always do, don't call.

Dr. Orlandi: Go to the emergency room, go to your urgent care if you need to, absolutely. If you can call ahead of time, maybe we can handle it over the phone. But if that's not the case, go ahead and just go on in, absolutely.

Interviewer: But Dr. Orlandi says, if it's not a true emergency, you might be able to get care another way without actually even making a trip to an urgent care or an emergency room.

Dr. Orlandi: One option is to go through and do a virtual urgent care visit that way. A patient can contact us. And again, we may be able to handle that over the phone, an earache, a sore throat, things like that. If it's something more, you know, like a sprain or a possible fracture, yeah, we're still going to need you to come in and get that taken care of, but we can discuss that over the phone or through a virtual visit.

Interviewer: If you had a screening scheduled, like a colonoscopy or a mammogram or even a skin cancer screen, Dr. Orlandi is asking you to even hold off on those. However, there are some exceptions.

Dr. Orlandi: Those screening tests are so important to detect cancer at an early stage, and yet right now what we're saying is we'd like to postpone most of those. However, if you're in a higher risk category, that's a conversation you need to have with your provider about whether it's safe to put that off or not.

Interviewer: But just like if you have an emergency, you should go to the emergency room or you should go to an urgent care. If you suspect you have an immediate concern, like perhaps skin cancer, there are other options for you.

Dr. Orlandi: A lot of our providers, our dermatologists are great about, "Hey, let's upload a photo to MyChart. We can take a look at that." There are many ways in this day and age that we can actually have those conversations without having a face-to-face encounter.

You know, we talk about physical distancing and how important that is to reduce spread, but that applies when you come in for a visit as well. And we want to minimize exposure of patients. We want to minimize the exposure to the COVID virus with our staff to preserve them and be able to take care of those that are really going to need care. And so I think all of that, we're just trying to be inventive right now in how we can provide that care. We want to provide that care. We may just be doing it in a different format.

For Patients