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 on an ongoing basis 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. 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.