It’s ‘Time for Care’

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, nearly 60 percent of Americans have skipped a health care appointment, according to a June survey from conducted by Morning Consult and CVS Health. To ease fears and encourage Americans to prioritize preventative health, CVS Health launched Time for Care to provide guidance on how to smartly and safely seek in-person care.

To help individuals stay safe in the months ahead, Garth Graham, M.D., MPH, vice president of Community Health and Chief Community Health Officer for CVS Health, weighs in with helpful tips for resuming in-person care.

Dr. Garth Graham, M.D., MPH, Vice President of Community Health and Chief Community Health Officer, CVS Health
Dr. Garth Graham, M.D., MPH, Vice President of Community Health and Chief Community Health Officer, CVS Health

How can Americans prepare for the pandemic’s next phase?

Certain interventions have been shown to be effective on a population level and decrease personal risk: Wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, maintain social distance and, if you’re going out, just wear a mask. Equally important are monitoring health symptoms that are concerning and having a good relationship with a primary care provider.

We also continue to have a flu vaccine that we know reduces morbidity and mortality, so certainly getting vaccinated and reducing your risk of flu is going to be important.

What precautions would you advise for children back to school?

Given the challenges around making decisions about school, having your own family plan for these different issues and challenges is important.

Familiarize yourself with CDC guidelines for individuals and understand how adherent your school is to CDC guidelines on school re-openings. Also, pay attention to what’s happening locally: This is a local pandemic and what is occurring in one county and in one state is not necessarily the same as what’s occurring in another state.

What questions can people ask their health care providers to help them evaluate whether it’s safe to resume in-person care?

Start off by asking what kinds of safety precautions are in place for your visit. The other thing is to ask about anything that concerns you. Your doctor is there for you and being able to talk about anything that relieves your anxiety is important.

Don’t let fear be an overriding factor for your decisions. Understand the facts. Many institutions have put in place really good protocols, per the Centers of Disease Control’s guidelines, to decrease the potential transmission of COVID-19. Hearing about that directly from your health care providers can help to re-instill your faith that they care about your safety just as much as you do.

Read the full Associated Press Q&A with Dr. Graham.

Helping you prepare for your in-office visit

Talk to your doctor about your concerns. Together, you can decide whether an in-person visit makes sense for you. If so, here are some of the questions you can ask:

  • What should I expect when I arrive at the office?

  • Do I need to bring my own mask?

  • Are staff and patients required to wear masks?

  • Is your staff being tested for COVID-19?

  • How often are the waiting rooms and offices cleaned?

  • Are there separate waiting areas for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients?

  • What should I do if I have had a cough or fever in recent days, recently traveled, or been in contact with someone who has tested positive?

08.13.20