Raise your hand if you postponed or converted to telemedicine visits for “nonessential,” routine and/or preventive healthcare early in the Covid 19 pandemic. If yes, many of us did the same thing.
As stay-at-home restrictions lifted, many providers started seeing more patients in person while still offering a virtual option. But there can be confusion around which appointments we should now schedule to see the doctor in person.
Simple blood tests, urine tests and direct exams can detect early cancers, diabetes, hypertension and many other illnesses. Some critical aspects of care, like a physical exam, can only be performed in the office. Another question is whether it is safe to schedule overdue or upcoming screening tests and other procedures – especially as the pandemic continues to rise in many communities.
These are shared decisions between you and your healthcare provider. Keep in mind that your provider wants you to be in touch and wants you to get the medical care that you need. Call your doctor’s office to discuss your particular healthcare situation. Speak candidly about any concerns and questions you have, as well as making clear your needs and preferences. Together you can assess what’s best for you and make a game plan for your care.
If you’ll be scheduling an appointment for an in-person visit you will probably be asked if you are experiencing any Covid-related symptoms and if anyone in your home has tested positive for Covid-19.
Healthcare providers receive guidelines from state, local, county health departments and the CDC about how to safely operate their facility while minimizing risk to patients and their staffs. Many providers have implemented scheduling, staffing and technology tools to complement the physical distancing procedures and environmental changes they have made. If you are not automatically provided with the pertinent detail when you schedule your appointment, click here for some questions to ask the scheduler about the practices in place. You can also check out the provider’s website for information posted there about steps they are taking.
For more tips on how to safely navigate an in-person medical appointment, read below
- If you are experiencing Covid-related symptoms the day of your in-person appointment, call the provider’s office for guidance before you go in.
- When you arrive to the facility, you will likely find new procedures and safety precautions put in place since your last visit. Follow the requested instructions and communicate with the staff if you observe something or are asked to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Wear a mask or face covering throughout your visit unless you need to remove it for a procedure or are requested to do so by your provider.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol before and after touching any surfaces in waiting areas, exam rooms, and other common areas. Avoid touching surfaces as much as possible.
- Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow, and throw away the tissue. When wearing a mask, cough or sneeze into the mask.
- Follow social distancing recommendations as much as possible.
Bag It had the opportunity to be part of the University of Arizona Cancer Center Community Outreach & Engagement “Let’s Taco ‘Bout Cancer!” Webinar Series. We were able to share information and details about the Bag It bag and what is offered.
Happy April – March was certainly a bit of a lion (no matter what the saying means) – she roared for us. These are uncharted times for all of us. Those with cancer and other immunocompromised health issues are weighing heavily on my mind, but I also know you are resilient and have the opportunity to show the rest of us how you do it every day!
A huge thank you and show of appreciation for all of those in healthcare who are continuing to provide services to those with cancer and all of those in our communities – YOU ARE AMAZING and we appreciate the sacrifices you are making for others.
The Bag It team wants you all to know that we are thinking of you. There are lots of resources out there so please check out our coronavirus page to help support and update those of you impacted by cancer. And please feel free to share other resources with us. We are all working remotely and continuing to fulfill our mission of educating, supporting and empowering everyone impacted by cancer.
Bag It bags continue to be shipped out. The tools provided by Bag It are helpful for those with cancer and other diseases, or if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Print out a log or blank calendar page and track what is happening. I’m using the calendar as a quick journal so when I look back and scrapbook these days of quarantine I can remember the positive moments during this time.
We are all embracing new challenges each day (working from home, teaching our children, physical distancing, and more) so we hope you are able to find something positive each day from this situation. Stay physically active, eat well, wash your hands, distance yourself physically, but cherish the zoom calls, phone calls or letter writing options to stay connected or reconnect with friends, family and colleagues. It’s important to connect with others and keep your spirits up.
If you need anything – a chat, a card, a Bag It bag – let us know as we want to support you today and everyday. In addition, although Bag It does not provide financial assistance there are many programs out there that do and we have many of them listed on our resource page so check them out. Also, many pharmaceutical companies have resources to help with your care or medication so check out their websites.
Stay safe, stay healthy, be kind, be grateful!
Information to collect:
- Write down the names of relatives on both sides of the family (ideally three generations): parents, children, grandchildren, siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews, cousins. (Accessing a family tree may be helpful)
- Add for each person any information you have about their:
- sex at birth
- date of birth
- known medical and mental health conditions and age of diagnosis
- any other details about lifestyle, habits, environmental factors, results of any genetic testing.
(If a family member is deceased, note age at time of death, any known medical/mental health conditions, and cause of death)
Start the conversation!
- Identify the family members on each side (mother’s and father’s side) who might be most knowledgeable about your family members.
- Let them know the reason you would like to ask them some questions and the kinds of information you are seeking. Give them some time to think about it or to collect info if needed.
- Share any information you have gathered so far and then ask them to add more details where possible.
- Some family members may be uncomfortable discussing these matters. Respect the privacy of your relatives as confidential information is shared. Let them know that having this information gathered will benefit ALL family members.
- The information can be gathered in person, by phone, or in writing – whatever is most comfortable and most convenient. In cases where information is incomplete, just include what is accurately known. Do not guess.
- Sometimes medical records and family documents like scrapbooks can fill in some blanks, as can public records.
What to do with the information you’ve collected:
- Create a written document (or see below for online options) with the collected family history information gathered.
- Share copies with other family members for them to share with their own doctors to inform them of their family health history.
- Give a copy of the Family Health History to your doctor for their records and review it with them. The document can help your doctor look for early warning signs of disease and recommend steps for reducing your personal risk of disease.
- Questions to ask your doctor about review of your Family Health History:
- Does my family history put me at risk for certain conditions or diseases? Other members of my family?
- Are there any screening tests I should have now or in the future?
- Should I have genetic counseling or genetic testing?
- What lifestyle recommendations do you have to reduce my risk?
- What information should I share with other family members?
- Be sure to update the records over time and provided updated copies to family members. This can be a valuable document for future generations as well.
Free online tools to help collect your family health history and share it with relatives and doctors.
Check out our video with accomplishments from 2019 and goals for 2020. We recently held an Unpacking the Bag event in both Tucson and Phoenix to connect with our volunteers, donors, bag recipients, and interested individuals. We mingled and then did a short presentation and shared some videos. Please take some time to watch this video and learn about all that you helped us accomplish in 2019 and how you can help in 2020. In addition to this video highlighting that information we reference our “Making the Most of your Bag It Bag” video and our new Informational Video. Find out more about Bag It today and consider ordering a bag for someone you know impacted by cancer.