By Tom Mihaljevic, M.D.
Cleveland Clinic CEO and President
In Cleveland and across the country, people are putting off important – even life-threatening – healthcare issues because they are afraid of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
I can assure you that our hospitals are among the safest places one can visit. The risk of community exposure is much greater, which is why we all must remain vigilant even as stay-at-home orders and other public restrictions are relaxed.
The novel coronavirus has not gone away. It is still in our communities. And it is still contagious. At Cleveland Clinic, you should feel confident that you are walking into a safe environment. For nearly two months, Cleveland Clinic has been limiting visitors, delaying some surgeries, providing proper personal protective equipment for caregivers, disinfecting surfaces, practicing physical distancing and screening patients and caregivers for COVID-19 symptoms including taking people’s temperatures at building entrances.
By acting quickly in the early stages of the pandemic, we maintained Cleveland Clinic’s safe environment for our patients, visitors, and caregivers.
As we resume clinical services, we will continue to ensure that our patient waiting areas are reconfigured for safety. We will continue to screen patients and caregivers at our entrances and provide a cloth mask to wear while in our facilities. We will test all patients before surgery. We will continue our comprehensive occupational health programs to test our caregivers who have been exposed and to ensure they are clear of COVID-19 before returning to work.
Virtual visits, which have grown exponentially, will continue to be an important part of patient care when appropriate to minimize the need for in-person visits.
Still, we know that some people are afraid. A recent poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians found that 29% of adults have avoided medical care because they are concerned about contracting the virus. Hospitals nationwide have seen a 38% decline in the number of patients presenting with heart attacks across the United States. This is extremely concerning, especially for patients with heart disease and cancer, who require early screening, constant surveillance and treatment. If you have a medical emergency, do not hesitate to call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department.
As we look forward to resuming care for all of our patients in the coming weeks, the safety of our patients and caregivers will be our primary concern.
Read more about Cleveland Clinic’s resumption of services at: Cleveland Clinic Resumes Services Paused During COVID-19 Pandemic
For the latest visitor policy, please visit clevelandclinic.org/coronavirus.