Have you been to the doctor recently?
June 4, 2020 1:38 PM   Subscribe

My partner absolutely must go to the doctor tomorrow. I will be driving them but not going into the clinic. I'm pretty scared about this.

Have you been to the doctor? What was it like? Did you come away with coronavirus? I have this terrible feeling of doom - both my partner and I are high-risk and I just feel like this is it, we're going to get it and there will be the coronavirus spike due to the protests and we won't be able to get any care and we'll die. I've worked very hard to keep us safe so far, and I feel like I've just kept us safe so that we could be forced outside at the very peak of the virus.

Naturally my partner will wear a mask - we have a couple of N95s around - and we'll disinfect everything, shower and change when we get back.

Part of me just feels so worn down that I don't even care, that's the only reason I'm still functioning.
posted by Frowner to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was just at the walk-in clinic two days ago; actually, I ended up at two different clinics (one sent me to the other due to their xray tech being gone for the day).

At the front door, they had a nurse screening all incoming patients, taking temperature, giving masks if you didn't have one, asking for covid symptoms, one made me use hand sanitizer. At check-in I had to stand behind the line, and they had a plexiglass screen between us; once i was in with the doctor we all had masks on and it appeared someone had recently wiped everything down.

Given that doctors' jobs revolve around controlling disease, I would relax and trust that the office has it handled.
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:45 PM on June 4, 2020 [15 favorites]

My father (in his 80's) is being treated for cancer and every time he and my mom (also in her 80's) have gone to clinics or the hospital for testing/treatment, the COVID precautions have been robust. My parents wear masks, and they're very careful, but the medical personnel also have been very on top of things. I'm sorry that your husband is not well, but I think that going to the doctor will only help him and is not likely to expose him as long as he wears a mask. The medical profession has had some time to get their operations very tight and while I was initially very troubled about my parents having to go to medical appts, once I heard what the precautions were like, my anxiety eased tremendously. I also have seriously immune-compromised friends who have needed to be seen by doctors and they have all told me the same - that they felt secure about the level of precautions being taken. Good luck.
posted by quince at 1:45 PM on June 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I haven't been but relatives and friends have, and not one of them has come down with the virus. Keep in mind that the doctors and nurses have a vested interested in protecting themselves, so they will be taking every possible precaution. Really, the only way your partner could get it from this visit is if the doctor has the virus, is not wearing a mask, and sneezes or coughs on your partner's unmasked face. As long as your partner wears a mask and does not touch their face until they wash their hands, everything should be fine. Note that he people I know who have been to a hospital for an appointment have been told to remove their masks upon entering and take one of the hospital's masks. Good luck!
posted by wisekaren at 1:47 PM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

I went twice last week. At the larger clinic, there was someone at the door to open it for you, check your ID, and ask the COVID screening questions. The had clear marks for where to stand when. All seating was very spread out and contactless. The clinic normally would have 10-15 people in the waiting room and on that day there were only 2 other people. All staff were wearing masks and it felt quite safe.

At the second appointment, they made you wash your hands before entering and took your temperature on arrival. The receptionist was behind new Plexiglas, and the nurse and doctor were wearing masks, but constantly pulling them down to talk. (That part was odd.)

Perhaps it is worth a quick call to talk through their practices. Everyone I know who has been to the doctor has said it went better than expected.
posted by mcgsa at 1:50 PM on June 4, 2020

I went to the dentist four times, if you can imagine, because HUGE ABSCESS. Most of the precautions were actually to keep the staff safe, since I obviously couldn’t wear a mask. The staff all had masks, were appropriately distancing, etc. It was professional and made me feel better.

I am, as yet, fine, abscess gone, and multiple stages of molar-saving complete, in a scenario where we had to be up in one another’s faces. (He’s the hero, since he had to be all in my mouth!) It turned out fine.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:51 PM on June 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

I went. I was initially, let's say, leery, but the precautions were immense. I think part of it was to protect their own staff including the receptionists. I do not mean to be a wise guy, but I don't think I could have caught it there if I wanted to. Everyone had masks, fresh gloves and their own healthy fear. If it is a must go, go, and go with a great deal of confidence.

Oh, I went in the morning. Tried to get an appt for first thing with the thinking that they disinfected the place overnight. That may be wishful thinking, but I am sticking with it.
posted by AugustWest at 1:52 PM on June 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've taken my husband to the doctor (and hospital) many times (like, 15? 20?) over the past three months. Neither of us have gotten COVID-19. Husband is high-risk, I am not. This is in Boston, i.e. with a pretty high number of people in our community infected.

Obviously procedures have changed a lot in medical settings over the past three months. Currently I am only allowed in because he needs to be escorted - if he could walk from the front door to the office himself I don't think I would be allowed in.

We are both questioned about whether we have any COVID-19 symptoms before we leave for the office (by phone, usually the night before or the morning of) and again when we arrive. Someone takes both of our temperatures before we are allowed into the office area. The consultation rooms are cleaned between each visit. The chairs in the waiting rooms are all spaced ~6 feet apart.

We and his care providers wear masks the whole time.

I don't like the part where we're in a small closed space with someone not of our household. But! I was weirdly reassured by the story of those Missouri hairstylists who worked while symptomatic and exposed 140 customers - they contact traced all of those customers and apparently none of them have come down with COVID-19. Obviously that's not an experiment we should keep carrying out. But it's very possible to actually spend time in a close space with a person with symptomatic COVID-19 and not get it.
posted by mskyle at 1:53 PM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I went for a pap three weeks ago. A step by step on how it went:

1) Before I even got in the building, a nurse met me and verified who I was and why I was there. She then approached me just close enough to scan my forehead with a temp check. She rattled off a list of covid symptoms that I had to confirm I did not have, or had in the last 2 weeks.

2) Once allowed in the building I was able to approach the very well plastic-fronted desk, where I again answered questions on covid. They had me read all numbers from ID's to them. I was given a form to fill out and directed to the waiting room....

3) The waiting room consisted of 10 chairs spaced over 6 feet from each other. Someone was cleaning them all off despite no one being there. This was also the least amount of time I'd ever spent in a waiting room- I was maybe there 5 minutes. Someone else showed up and was directed to the other side of the room.

4) The nurse that took me to the doctor had a giant sticky note on her arm that said "Temp check AM/PM" with a check mark by the AM-- I'm guessing this meant that she'd been checked recently.

5)She put me into the DR's room and I had my appointment.

6) When I left the Dr. guided me through a back way so I never went back through the waiting room.

Everyone had gloves & masks on.
I did not get covid -or anything else for that matter- from this appointment.
posted by haplesschild at 1:54 PM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

I work at a hospital, though probably not the one you will be going to. I also work in IT, not in clinical areas, but like all employees I get regular updates on the goings-on with COVID stuff. The hospital I work at is one of the major centers of COVID treatment in my area.

We are extremely careful to separate COVID patients from non-COVID patients. People coming into the hospital are screened outside in before they even come in. Patents waiting for appointments wait in their cars our outside until they are called to come in.

If you don't have COVID and you come here, you will be isolated from COVID patients and staff treating those patients.

In fact we have just started a new marketing campaign aimed at people who are afraid to go to a hospital. It's basically saying "I know you're afraid to come here but I assure you we are doing everything possible to keep you safe from COVID."

I don't know that every hospital is being as careful as we are, but I would assume most are. We are losing a shit-ton of money, we WANT you to come and we WANT you to be safe.

People treating you will probably be wearing full PPE so that they don't potentially catch it from you.

Use standard precautions. Wear a mask, don't touch your face, and wash your hands often.
posted by bondcliff at 1:54 PM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

I have an injury I go once a week and have since February to a major hospital, right next to the ER. I have to wear a mask for my appointments, and they check my temperature at the hospital entrance, and I have to fill out a form for contract tracing and notification purposes just in case someone does get sick.

My wife had a surgery at a little surgical center, a few weeks ago. I was required to stay outside the facility during her appointment (until I had to pay ironically - then they let me in and I could touch whatever I wanted). She also had to wear a mask until the procedure started, which was on her face.

Neither of us have had any indications we caught Covid.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:56 PM on June 4, 2020

I've had to go to the cancer center almost every week for treatment since this started. They are extremely careful, and for a while, it felt like they were adding new precautions every week. I am severely immunocompromised, and so far, I have not gotten sick.
posted by FencingGal at 2:00 PM on June 4, 2020 [6 favorites]

I went last week to the doctor and had a similar experience to what everyone is else is writing. I think fewer people are going right now. I live in a fairly large city and when I called for an appointment that I felt I couldn't put off any longer, they offered me two choices for the very next day. When I got there, as others have noted, there were only three other people in a waiting room that could seat fifteen.

I have a N95 mask as my partner has a job working with dangerous chemicals. I was screened, with a touchless thermometer, at the door. You had to wear a mask, and keep it on, to be in the facility. The only hitch that happened for me was that a third person got in the elevator even though the sign said two person to an elevator. But no one coughed at any point, nor did anyone even touch their mask.

I am now a week past the visit, so theoretically I could still yet show symptoms, but I don't think I was at risk at any point. I understand your fear and felt anxious myself about going, but my visit was pretty necessary and I felt the safety precautions were very good.
posted by Slothrop at 2:00 PM on June 4, 2020

I'm in NYC and I went 2 weeks ago. It was a regular appointment with my OBGYN that I scheduled before everything went down. They called to remind me and I tried to reschedule, the doctor got on the phone and talked me out of my paranoia.

It is a small office and they took my temperature as soon as I walked in the door. Everyone wore masks. It was a whole lot less scary than I thought it would be.
posted by elvissa at 2:03 PM on June 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I took my two-month-old baby to the doctor for a check up and required vaccinations and I was absolutely terrified. But once I was there, it was ok. They had very few staff working, everyone wore PPE, there was only one other family in the waiting room and we were easily ten feet or more from them. Nobody but the doctor herself came near the baby or us, and we all wore masks the whole time. I would rather not have gone, but we had to*, the precautions were solid, and I felt fine about the experience afterwards. I hope you feel the same.

*IME, skipping vaccinations to avoid Covid exposure seems like a bad idea - measles are just as bad! - as are many untreated health conditions. Medical care is still important.
posted by epanalepsis at 2:13 PM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

So far every person I know IRL who has been to a doctor or dentist hasn't come down with it yet (though one person has...disappeared of late, so I don't know there). I had to go get a shot over a month ago and mostly the facility was practicing good procedures except for the six(!!!!) people who weren't wearing masks properly or at all. I hope they have been sufficiently reprimanded by the time I have to go again.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:13 PM on June 4, 2020

I was hospitalized for four days for transplant surgery less than a month ago in Denver, and for the past month have been required to complete followup visits and blood draws about twice a week in hospital settings and clinic settings. I am weak as a kitten most days as I work to recover, and I'm actively on high doses of incredibly strong post-transplant immunosuppressants, so I'm among those with perhaps the riskiest of high-risk conditions (for example, I'm not allowed to leave my house except for mandatory hospital visits until sometime in July, at least, and all other non-emergent healthcare for me is on hold).

I always wear a (N95 construction-style) mask and carry a bottle of alcohol gel. Every facility I have visited has Covid screening when you first enter. I'm pre-registered and in the system so I don't even have to hand anyone an ID. Exam and procedure rooms are cleaned between every patient. Everyone wears a mask, either N95 or surgical or cloth. In Denver, they have funneled all traffic through a screening entrance. Covid patients are in another part of the complex. Hand gel dispensers are abundant, social distancing is expected, and the elevator can only take 4 people at a time.

At every visit, I am cautious but not actively worried. If I have multiple appointments that day, I wait outside on the sunny grounds to limit exposure time indoors. It's much safer, I feel, than a supermarket visit because you touch fewer things and in general there are fewer people. And the people in hospitals are visibly more respectful of precautionary measures.

No sign of Covid.

I hope all goes well with the procedure.
posted by mochapickle at 2:19 PM on June 4, 2020 [6 favorites]

Just got back from my doctor about 20min ago. I already had a mask to wear but they have masks available for those who don't. Had done a prescreening online and over the phone before going in which reduced time talking to the receptionist (I only had to give my name when I got to the desk).

There were several nurses at the front door with full ppe and face shields taking temperatures and asking the standard questions (fever, nausea/vomiting, known exposure to someone with covid, etc).

Chairs in waiting area were spread out. Lines were taped on the ground by the reception desk to have people stand at a distance from the desk. Everyone had masks.

While there were other patients around, there was no crowding. Especially since people can't bring someone to accompany them unless they are caregivers, parents of minors, etc.
posted by acidnova at 2:43 PM on June 4, 2020

My mom has to go to her pulmonologist every few weeks and I did not like it, but she described many many precautions they're taking: check in from car until called in, wait in waiting room w/ max 2-3 others until going to exam room, masks, temping, hand sanitizer/washing, even in the exam room they're distancing except when unavoidable. She felt comfortable, even with COPD and other high risk factors (like every one of his patients, obviously). The pulmonologist has tested negative all along despite treating patients in hospital.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:49 PM on June 4, 2020

Agreed with all of the above and if you are going to HCMC, they have all the possible COVID patients in a separate part of the hospital. Dr. Advicepig works in that clinic and they are taking it incredibly seriously and the PPE situation isn’t dire right now.

If you have to go, it’s probably safer than any other errand, but I know y’all have been avoiding those too.
posted by advicepig at 2:57 PM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

My clinic follows a protocol similar to what AzraelBrown describes, along with pre-screen phone calls and disinfecting rooms between patients. We take it very seriously. Someone showed up with a fever recently (having denied fever on the pre-screen questionnaire), and I sent them straight to the drive-through testing tent.
posted by basalganglia at 3:15 PM on June 4, 2020

Office visits. PCP once, neurologist twice. Temp at door, exposure questionnaire, mandatory observed 20s hand washing, masks for everyone, distancing, no-one else in waiting area. Pens separated, fresh and used. Hand sanitizer.

No covid so far.
posted by j_curiouser at 3:15 PM on June 4, 2020

Both my husband and I have been to the doctor multiple times over the past three months, including a minor surgical procedure at a hospital and regular doctor visits. In what is certainly a first for me, I just had a pap smear, still dutifully wearing my mask.

In general, what people have said above applies to our experiences. At the regular doctor, our own masks have been fine, but at the hospital they told us to take them off and gave them the disposable paper types. They call before you go in and run down the list of COVID Questions, and then when you go in, they ask again. They also scan your temperature and most waiting rooms have been restructured to keep people further apart. In some cases, you go in one door and out the other. For the surgical procedure, which was done under general anesthetic, they made my husband get a COVID test a few days prior to going in.

We're both high risk just from being fat people, let alone other medical stuff, and have not felt unsafe during any of the visits.
posted by PussKillian at 3:18 PM on June 4, 2020

Mod note: Following on a comment from earlier - quick reminder that the post says "partner/them" so let's avoid introducing other assumptions about partner's gender. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:20 PM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I’ve been to Dr a few times during past 8 weeks. Even went to a hospital for CT scan. Each time felt safe, & more orderly / well run than many other outings (grocery store). Did not come home with the ‘rona. Bring a pen of your own in case you need to sign anything.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 4:09 PM on June 4, 2020

I had an emergent surgery three weeks ago tomorrow and spent the night in the Ortho ward at a hospital that has a COVID ward (Ortho has its own floor, but of course there's cross-exposure), had pre- and post-op appointments with my surgeon at his clinic (which is all Ortho, so no illnesses, just injuries), and have had two PT appointments and it's all been fine so far. Protocols for everything are basically what others in this thread have said (and I also got the skull-swab during my pre-op check-in). This is in St. Louis, which isn't a huge hotbed compared to other cities, but things are still pretty serious here.
posted by Ufez Jones at 4:20 PM on June 4, 2020

I went to the doctor last week for an unexpected visit (called about a definitely non-COVID concern and was told to come in ASAP). I was leery at first, but honestly? It was so much less anxiety-producing than going to the grocery store! So much.

The were only letting people into the clinic one at a time and people waited outside very spaced apart. At the entrance there was a temperature screening, and a nurse made me trade my mask for one that they issued to all patients, then the nurse watched me sanitize my hands before sending me on my way. There were plastic barriers at the check-in desk, and I was the only one there. In the lounge, again, I was basically the only person in my quadrant.

When I saw my provider, I took off my mask only for another temperature check. She kept her mask on the entire time. I felt very reassured by all of the precautions.

Good luck!
posted by TwoStride at 7:48 PM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

In case all these stories aren't enough: think about how we're in a VERY different place than we were in March in terms of knowledge of COVID-19. It's not that we know everything, but the information we have now on transmission and how to prevent infection is way, way higher. And who are the people in the world most on top of this information? Medical professionals. I would trust a doctor's office over a grocery store or a car repair shop or almost anywhere else.

If you were my kid, I would ask you: is your anxiety monster helping you right now, or making things worse? You can tell your anxiety monster thanks for trying to keep me safe, but I'll take it from here.*

*Please ignore if the ELI5 on talking back to anxiety isn't helpful.
posted by medusa at 8:58 PM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Sorry to hear you're going through such a stressful situation.

FWIW, my high-risk, then-74yo, former-smoker dad went to the emergency room of an NYC hospital in mid-April (when NYC was considered the epicenter of the coronavirus) for a non-COVID emergency. My brother accompanied him and sat in the ER--which contained many people exhibiting COVID-like symptoms--for thirty minutes before he was ushered out. My dad was admitted after two days in the emergency room and was in the hospital for a little over three days. My brother had to go back and forth to the hospital multiple times during that span. It feels miraculous, but neither my dad nor my brother have shown signs of having COVID.

We agonized over whether my dad should go to the hospital. An ER doctor friend in NYC strongly warned against it, saying my dad would almost certainly contract COVID if he went. That the viral load would be too much. This, when my dad was experiencing what would have been no-brainer, go-to-the-hospital-right-now symptoms in normal times. We ultimately took my dad because his blood pressure numbers were so low that not taking him seemed like certain, immediate death. We did not make the decision lightly.

Since then, my dad has also gone to doctor's offices to get a colonoscopy and endoscopy and to get blood drawn. It's been two weeks since these procedures, and he hasn't exhibited any symptoms.

The hospital and doctor's offices my dad went to were very vigilant and thorough about COVID procedures; I imagine that will be the same where you are. It sounds like you are taking the necessary precautions: wear a mask (my dad and brother wore KN95s), disinfect, change. If you can, bring gloves and hand sanitizer. Otherwise--I hope you both rest up for what will be a stressful day and take the time to rest and recover when you get back.
posted by saltypup at 10:08 PM on June 4, 2020

I’ve had a well woman appointment and had my teeth cleaned in the last two weeks.

I was made to wash my hands/use hand sanitizer on entering the premises, I was asked about my health and any contact with known carriers, I had my temperature taken once.

One was a new to me practice, they had me complete a new patient form and made me keep the pen.

Obviously no hand shaking, masks, gloves.

And the hygienist had to go old school and use manual tools, not the ultra sonic ones that require water as well because that water spray becomes airborne more. That was unpleasant because my mouth got very dry and causes a bit more bleeding but it was fine.

I have two other non emergency appointments with other doctors scheduled for this month and should really make follow up appointments with the dentist for other things.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:50 AM on June 5, 2020

Just another anecdote...I had a syncope episode on April 15 and when I fainted I apparently smacked my face on the edge of my desk. My eye area became red and started swelling, so my husband hustled me into the car and drove me to the local ER. As we entered there was a security guard and a nurse, and my husband kept repeating, "She's not sick, she fell! She's not coughing or anything, she hit her eye!" The nurse took my temperature as a stood in the lobby and asked me and my husband questions about whether I'd been coughing, etc. Moments later I was ushered into the ER proper and Husband was sent back outside to wait in the car. One "positive" result of this pandemic is that the ER was almost vacant - there was only one other patient there, and I was tended to immediately. (By comparison, last November my husband suffered a finger injury that resulted in a broken bone and required many stitches, and we waited almost two hours before finally being seen by a doctor at this same ER.)

All staff members were masked and gloved...I left so quickly from home that I didn't grab a mask, but surprisingly they didn't give me one during my time in the ER. I was MRI'd and treated and sent home and then proceeded to fret for weeks that I'd been exposed to COVID by virtue of spending so much time in the hospital. I haven't been tested or anything since then, but here it is early June and I haven't exhibited any COVID symptoms (and I'm just on the cusp of the high-risk group, age-wise).
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:53 AM on June 5, 2020

I have had a few appointments - one was converted to telehealth and getting a covid test because I had hayfever symptoms, which came back negative. A week later I was there for nearly an hour with a transfusion procedure. Each time I entered I was temperature tested, asked about symptoms, anyone with respiratory symptoms went to a different waiting room, regardless of why they were there. Everyone treating me had gowns and gloves, and was periodically tested (not during the time but just in general). So far nobody at my GP office has gotten covid apparently, but they are very aware of the risks.

My folks got COVID on a cruise, both are high risk and my dad in particular (obese, less than two years from cancer treatment, one year from open heart surgery, heart problems ongoing, severe anaemia, over 60). Neither realised they had it. Both have recovered completely.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:36 PM on June 5, 2020

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