Managing your health during the COVID-19 outbreak

Should I go to my doctors appointments?

You should first call your doctor’s office to see if they have regular office hours or if they’re doing phone, Skype, or other types of remote visits.

If you can’t have a phone or remote visit because you need a treatment, vaccine, or test, then you should ask if it’s possible to do them at a later time when it might be safer.

Should I go to my dialysis treatments?

Yes, you must go to all your dialysis treatments. Missing even one treatment can make you very sick or lead to death. Dialysis centers have been given strict guidelines on how to keep you safe from COVID-19.

If you’re feeling sick in any way, please call your center before you come for your treatment.

What are dialysis centers doing to prevent COVID-19 from spreading?

Dialysis clinics are checking all patients who come into the clinic for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. They are keeping all patients who show any signs of illness at a safe distance from other patients. Sick patients wear masks from the time they enter the unit until after they leave the unit.

Clinics are also following strict methods of cleaning and disinfecting the entire treatment area, including machines and other surfaces. Go here for more details.

Can I be denied dialysis treatment if I have COVID-19?

No. People who are on dialysis and who have also contracted COVID-19 are considered to be at high-risk. If there is availability, these patients may even be admitted to a hospital. In the event your symptoms are mild, you should be able to go to your dialysis center for your scheduled treatments.

The Centers for Disease Control has already issued interim guidance for patients on dialysis who have COVID-19 and all centers should be following these guidelines.

If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19, or have symptoms of COVID-19, or believe you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, then call your dialysis center prior to your scheduled appointment as there may be new procedures they would like you to follow.

How do I balance my health goals with the realities of COVID-19?

Stay in touch with your healthcare team as often as possible, especially if you have any new signs or symptoms of illness. You should also reach out to them if you can’t get the medicines or foods you need.

Your main health goal is to avoid exposure to COVID-19 by staying inside and keeping a safe distance from others if you need to go out. While inside, you can relieve stress with hobbies such as reading, sewing, drawing, or board games. You should also talk with friends and family by phone, or by exercise, if allowed by your healthcare team. Be realistic with your exercise goals, and find ways to keep fit when not at the gym. For example, use stairs for a good cardio workout and look for exercise classes online. Find great tips on exercise and meditation during the outbreak here.

In time you’ll be able to return to your normal routine. But for now, you can do things you would because you were busy outside of your home. Just think how good you’ll feel if you finally clean that basement or closet–not only will you burn a lot of calories, you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment that is very good for your health!

What is telemedicine and what do I need to know about it?

Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, allows for virtual appointments (remote visits, but in real time) with your healthcare professional using your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Check with your provider to see if they offer virtual appointments so you can reduce your exposure to the coronavirus. Many insurance plans cover telemedicine, including Medicare. Veterans also have access to telemedicine through the Veterans Administration.

Telemedicine can also include remote monitoring of your health by a healthcare professional, most often a telehealth nurse. By using a special monitor that’s connected to a blood pressure machine or other device, the nurse can check on you at any time.

Healthcare professionals can’t diagnose COVID-19 through telemedicine, but they can provide medical advice, tell patients how to quarantine and when they should go to the hospital, order tests, and write prescriptions. For more information contact the American Telemedicine Association.