UR Medicine Prepares for Potential COVID-19 Patients While Maintaining Care for All
Through March 29, Doctors Will Reschedule Some Preventive-care or Elective Appointments to Free Up Resources for Immediate Care
Sunday, March 15, 2020
COVID 19 virus
As the community prepares for the anticipated rise in COVID-19 cases, UR Medicine today announced that it has begun to reschedule some patient appointments and redeploy resources to ensure treatment of acute care needs at its hospitals, clinics, and physician offices. The changes, which include all UR Medicine affiliates and practices, are taking effect now and will be re-evaluated March 29 to determine if they are still necessary.
Physician and clinic offices, including UR Medicine surgery centers, will contact some patients to reschedule appointments and surgeries, or to offer alternative care such as a telephone consult or video telemedicine visit for patients who do not need to be seen in person. The changes will support the community-wide effort to reduce infection risk through social distancing, while freeing up capacity and resources to care for patients who are acutely ill, including potential COVID-19 cases that require hospitalization.
Dr. Michael Apostolakos, Chief Medical Officer for the University of Rochester Medical Center, explained that every patient whose scheduled appointment is changing will hear directly from their doctor’s office for appointments scheduled this week through March 29. He said the move will help to ensure the community’s largest health system has the staff and resources it needs to care for all patients as more patients test positive for COVID-19, including some who will need inpatient care.
“Under the leadership of our elected officials and Dr. Michael Mendoza, our community is taking bold actions to slow the potential spread of COVID-19 cases,” Dr. Apostolakos said. “As the area’s largest health system, it’s our job to support those actions while preparing to provide care for all patients who may need it as the number of COVID-19 cases rises despite our best efforts.”
Individual doctors will review their appointment schedules to identify which patients can be safely rescheduled or managed differently, such as replacing an in-office visit with a telephone consult. Reducing the volume of office appointments and elective procedures will enable the system to continue providing necessary care with fewer staff members—some of whom will be unable to work because schools and child-care facilities are closed, some of whom can be redeployed to care for other patients, and some of whom may need to be quarantined for potential exposure to novel coronavirus.
Dr. Apostolakos emphasized that UR Medicine has no plans to close physician offices, clinics, outpatient surgery centers or other facilities. However, by reducing patient volumes the changes will increase system capacity and conserve resources to care for patients with the most urgent and immediate need for care.
One Visitor In the Hospital at a Time, One Caregiver Per Outpatient
Following guidelines issued by the Monroe County Department of Public Health and endorsed by our hospitals, on Friday Strong Memorial and Highland Hospitals changed guidelines for patient visits and access to their campuses.
One visitor at a time will be allowed with each patient on inpatient units; this includes inpatient rooms in the Wilmot Cancer Center. At Golisano Children’s Hospital, two designated guardians will be allowed per inpatient. All visitors will be required to answer health questions. The hospitals also will limit the number of people allowed in the main lobby and family waiting areas.
Kathleen Parrinello, Chief Operating Officer for Strong Memorial Hospital, explained that the intent is to reduce the total number of visitors throughout the hospital. “Some people are interpreting the guidelines to mean that many friends and family members can come to the hospital, as long as only one person at a time visits the patient room,” Parrinello said. “Unfortunately, that just isn’t safe for our visitors or our patients who are medically at risk. We respectfully ask families to limit visitation to one person in the hospital at any one time, and only one person if needed to accompany a friend or relative during an outpatient visit.”
“We must take action to halt potential spread of this new virus by limiting the number of visitors allowed in our patient areas,” explains a letter being sent to hospital patients. “We understand the desire to be with loved ones—particularly new moms and infants—and the benefits your presence and support contribute towards healing. We apologize for the inconvenience and disappointment this causes and will return to regular visiting practices as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.”
Visitor Access Entrances and Hours at Strong Memorial Hospital
Outpatients with scheduled appointments at Flaum Eye Institute, the Mental Health & Wellness center and Eastman Dental Center may use entrances to those clinics. Other Medical Center entrances will be available for employees with UR identification badges.
Visitor Access Entrances and Hours at Highland Hospital
Starting at 8 tonight, visitors must use the following entrances at HH:
- Main Lobby/ED Entrance (open 24/7)
- North Lot Entrance (Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.)