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Women’s Doctor Appointments: Get in Now!

This article was originally published in the fall 2020 edition of Women2Women Magazine, 10-year Anniversary Edition. Penn State Health St. Joseph is a founding sponsor of Women2Women, an organization established in 2011 to affect change in women’s leadership roles and meet women where they are within the Greater Reading community.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians across the United States have reported seeing fewer patients, primarily with fear of presenting to the office due to COVID. We have women missing important screenings that prevent ovarian and breast cancer because of COVID. It’s not just OB-GYN care, men and women are staying home with strokes, heart attacks, and fractures because of the fear of COVID. Your medical care is important and we are prepared to see you in a safe environment. Please know you can make that appointment and here’s what you should expect.

When you are scheduled, whether it is for a test, procedure or office visit, you will be asked questions about your health and any symptoms you may be experiencing. We’ll collect additional information over the phone to reduce the amount of paperwork when you come in for your visit. And we’ll remind you to wear a face covering or mask to your appointment. If you don’t have a face covering, we will supply one before you enter the building, but you are strongly encouraged to bring your own to help us conserve our supply. We are limiting visitors in our offices and we will inform you if you are allowed a visitor. All patients, family/support persons and staff are required to wear a face covering in all of our locations.

When you arrive at any of our locations, you’ll be greeted by a staff member who will take your temperature, screen you for COVID-19 symptoms, provide sanitizer for hand hygiene and, if you don’t already have a face covering, provide you a mask. The staff will also answer any questions you may have about our safety protocols.

For your safety, we have implemented contactless check-in and check-out procedures to receive your insurance and payment information. Ink pens, clipboards and other materials are thoroughly disinfected after each individual use. We have also designated physical distancing zones at our check-in and check-out windows and throughout our facilities to allow for adequate space between patients.

Our lobbies and common areas, including high-touch items such as door handles, elevator buttons, tables and chairs, are cleaned and disinfected frequently throughout the day for your safety. All reading material and brochures have been removed from our lobbies, and seating capacity has been limited to align with physical distancing guidelines.

Good hand hygiene is essential for all team members, patients and visitors. When you come to any location, you will be provided hand sanitizer at the door as you enter the building, before you enter the exam or procedure area and as you exit the exam or procedure area.

We follow stringent cleaning protocols. For added safety, we have further enhanced those protocols for our patients’ safety and peace of mind. Our exam rooms and procedure areas are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each patient visit. In addition, we’re scheduling patient visits at reduced capacity at all of our care locations to allow extra time for enhanced cleaning between each patient encounter. Your exam or procedure room will be thoroughly cleaned before you enter. However, we understand you may prefer added protection for your clothes and other belongings. A single-use bag will be available to hold your belongings during your visit if you’d like.

We want to be able to get our women back in the office if they’re in need of a pap smear, mammogram or a colonoscopy for regular health maintenance and screening. We’re taking extra precautions to keep you safe whenever you need us. Together, we can get back to the health we need to live the way we want. If you have any questions or concerns about your appointment, do not hesitate to reach out to the staff and talk to us, we may be able to accommodate your requests and ease your concerns. We have options if you aren’t ready to be seen in the office, we can provide a telehealth visit or a phone call if needed. Some appointments we have to see you in person.

We want to take care of you! Please don’t put off making that appointment, we are ready to see you, safely, right now.

Monica Rush, MSHA, MSN, RN, CHWC
Director Rehabilitation Services
Penn State Health St. Joseph
Certified Health and Wellness Coach

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