From an interview with
Dr. Alan Blaker
McLeod Cardiology Associates
People who have put off seeing their heart or vascular specialist during the pandemic should not delay care any further. McLeod Cardiologist Dr. Alan Blaker describes the dangers of waiting too long and the many safety precautions physicians are taking to keep you safe from COVID-19.
Here’s a summary of Dr. Blaker’s comments:
When the pandemic started, we immediately saw a drop, some of which was intentional to try to allow people to stay at home and not have to come in for a routine appointment. We saw drops of about 70% in the office. The emergency department also reported substantial drops in patients coming to the emergency department. We’re not really quite sure why that’s the case, unless they’re really just having the heart attacks but not seeking care. That’s our biggest concern.
Since the pandemic started, we’ve taken steps to try to reduce the risk of infection, or spreading infection, in our offices and in the hospital. We have actually opened up our offices now to bring in patients for routine follow-ups, but we request that the patient be masked. If they don’t have a mask, then we’ll provide one. The staff is also wearing masks. Everything is being cleaned thoroughly. We use hand sanitizer very frequently. We even have social distancing in the elevators. We’ve spread out chairs in the waiting rooms to provide the ability to social distance. And we have cut back on our office visits to allow fewer people to be in the office at the same time. So all of our Heart & Vascular offices are taking similar steps, as well as in the hospital where we’re trying to reduce the risk of someone obtaining an infection or spreading an infection. We are now letting people come with one additional support person to help, because it’s hard to understand everything yourself. Having another person is something we frequently find helpful.
For patients who require a procedure – such as heart cath, elective vascular procedure or elective surgery — the system has also instituted a plan for COVID testing so that the patient is tested three days before the procedure. And we ask them to socially isolate during that time, waiting for the result. And then the procedure is usually performed about three days later. And that’s only because it takes about two days to get the result.
To get an appointment at any of our Heart & Vascular offices, it’s a matter of calling that particular office, for instance, McLeod Cardiology, McLeod Vascular Surgery or McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgery. And those offices can provide an appointment. Or contact your primary care physician to refer you for an appointment.