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Guest Column: Safety measures to help contain COVID-19

Guest Column by Sumit Bhagra and Mark Ciota

 

We are entering our third season — spring, summer and now fall — of COVID-19 and an unprecedented global pandemic. At each turn, we learn more about this virus and new ways to treat those infected, and how to better contain the spread.

Sumit Bhagra

By now, we are all familiar with the main ways to keep our community safe — hand washing, appropriate distancing and wearing a mask. We do this to keep ourselves and those closest to us from being exposed, and we do it to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus to others.

At Mayo Clinic, like other public spaces and places of business, many measures have been put into place to keep patients and staff safe, including wearing masks. Per Gov. Walz’s recent executive order, places of business can impose stricter guidelines than the statewide mask mandate. This is particularly important in a clinic and hospital setting, as many patients are already in a high-risk category for contracting the virus. If you are coming to a Mayo Clinic facility, please remember all patients and visitors will be required to wear a mask while on Mayo Clinic property.

Our safety measures also include the addition of staff members who conduct a health screening upon entry in our facilities. They ask every patient and visitor coming to the campus a series of important screening questions and take their temperature to determine if it is appropriate for them to proceed inside the building. Behind the scenes, all of our staff follow self-screening protocols established during the pandemic. These preventive measures also mean that we have had to revise previous practices and no longer allow walk-ins for a non-emergency visit. If someone comes to a facility for non-emergency care without an appointment, they will be asked to leave and call to schedule a time for a visit. We recognize that this can be frustrating, especially if you are not feeling well, and we appreciate your cooperation.

Mark Ciota

Details about preparing for in-person appointments can be found on the Mayo Clinic Health System COVID-19 website. If you call for an appointment, please note that the call volumes are high. If you hang up and call back, you will lose your place in the queue and may wait even longer. If you prefer to access your care without coming into the clinic, be sure to sign up for Patient Online Services (the Mayo Clinic patient portal) to message your care team and schedule a virtual visit for a number of primary and specialty care appointments.

We have all had to make adjustments to our routines and practices at home and at work as we navigate this pandemic together. On behalf of Mayo Clinic Health System, we wish to thank our amazing staff, patients and visitors for the cooperation and commitment they have shown to keep our community as safe as possible. We are all in this together and will continue to provide high-quality care with your health and safety in mind.

Sumit Bhagra, M.D., is chairman of southeast Minnesota safety management and resources team for Mayo Clinic.

Mark Ciota, M.D., is CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin.