Q&A with Dr. K: Is it safe to see my doctor for in-person appointments?
One of the best New Year’s resolutions we can make to ourselves is to resolve to get back to the doctor’s office for in-person appointments. During the pandemic, many of us put off doctor visits, wellness visits, and even our routine visits for blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, depression, etc.
According to John J. Kalata, D.O. of Eastside Medical Center, we falsely assume that doctor’s offices are dangerous in the pandemic time. He says that really, the opposite is true. Doctor’s offices are some of the safest places we can be. He answers more questions about in-person appointments below.
How do LECOM Health physicians ensure my in-person appointments are safe?
Dr. Kalata: We take great care to protect patients from illness when they come in to the office for their appointments. Over the last couple of years, we’ve increased our focus on handwashing, on masking, and on social distancing.
Doctors have reimagined or reconfigured our offices so patients aren’t all on top of each other. We call patients ahead of time to screen them. If they’re having any acute respiratory illness, we can manage those patients over the phone. We’re trying to be proactive with those folks and keep them out of the office if we can.
We encourage patients who have respiratory symptoms to get tested for COVID-19. Especially now with the rampant spread of what we think is the omicron variant.
How can I get tested for COVID-19 before my in-person appointments?
Dr. Kalata: We’re fortunate because there are testing centers that do them for free in town. And we’re able to arrange for our patients to get tested … generally at Millcreek Community Hospital for our patients.
I encourage people to take an at-home COVID-19 test, or visit the Vaccine, Testing and Treatment Center at LECOM Center for Health and Aging, 3910 Schaper Ave. in Erie.
Testing is much more accessible compared to a year ago. That, for us, has been a blessing. If you think you might have a sinus infection or a cold, we really try to differentiate between the two.
Why should I feel confident to attend my in-person appointments?
Dr. Kalata: We screen patients to try to keep those with potential COVID-19 out of the office. We’ve been so focused on COVID-19 for the last couple of years. It’s time to pay attention to all the other health issues — which have not gone away, and do require the attention of a physician. Patients with other routine health needs really should feel confident that the doctor’s office is a safe place to be.