As we are engulfed by information, warnings, updates and directives about the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting our community, we wanted to take a moment to inform you of how South Denver Cardiology Associates (SDCA) are responding to this health threat and what steps are being taken to protect you, our most precious responsibility. Each and every one of our physicians and practitioners are committed to maintaining your health and that of our staff.
As you no doubt have heard, COVID-19 is a highly contagious and potentially serious infection that is easily spread through the community. You have also heard of unprecedented precautions that have been instituted, such as the closing of schools and universities, cancellation of major sporting events and concerts, and the recommendations for restricting travel, along with the frequent recommendations to maintain good personal hygiene measures such as washing your hands, covering your cough, and maintaining “social distancing”. These general precautions present a challenge for health care facilities, and SDCA recognizes the potential risks – to both our patients and our staff – of bringing together multiple patients at one time in a medical clinic. SDCA continues to monitor carefully the recommendations from our medical resources – such as the Center for Disease Control, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Education and our health system partners. Several changes have been implemented that may affect your visits to SDCA:
Phone System-On Tuesday our phone system will not sound the same to you. When you call you will receive a voicemail at which time you will be advised to email us (an email will be provided) with your questions or needs and we will return your call from those emails. You can also leave a voicemail and we will respond to that as well. We are moving our call center, medical records, and revenue management staff to home for their safety so our response times will be different than you are used to.
Screening Tools: Several methods, including phone surveys, in-person questionnaires or signage are being used to keep patients who may already have flu-like symptoms out of the office. Please understand that it is very important to minimize the exposure of a potentially infected patient to our other patients and staff.
Social Distancing at SDCA: It is our intent to help patients avoid sitting too close to other patients while visiting our offices. We now have the option to have you wait in your cars instead of our waiting areas if you so choose. If you would like to stay close, we suggest you distance yourself from others by at least 6 feet.
Rescheduling stable follow-up appointments: As a start, the physicians have agreed to minimize patient traffic by rescheduling stable patients who are “annual follow-ups”. In general, these appointments will be rescheduled for three-four months ahead provided you are feeling well and have no emerging cardiac complaints.
Elective Procedures: The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitals is already being seen on the availability of hospital beds and it may be necessary to postpone certain elective procedures
Canceling certain SDCA Services: While we fully recognize that certain SDCA services such as Cardiac Rehab and Wellness classes are important for the recovery and maintenance of your heart health, these are not mandatory services, and it is difficult to justify exposing large numbers of patients in relatively close quarters, especially given the respiratory mode of transmission of this virus. Therefore, we are canceling both Cardiac Rehab and the Wellness classes at least until the end of March, fully expecting to re-start as soon as possible.
Visits with Your Doctor or Nurse Practitioner: Your physician and NP providers will be reviewing your chart and, in some cases, may choose to interview you over the phone or via a computer-based video program such as “Zoom”. This has already been implemented by several health systems and has been shown to be an effective method of communication with patients. We recognize that not all patients may have computer access and that your “in-person” visit may be necessary – which is fine. We value the direct patient contact and anticipate that in many cases your physician will prefer to maintain the usual office-based interview.
Please understand that these measures are largely temporary and are specifically designed to mitigate against the effect that COVID-19 might have on our patients. Please also understand that we making these changes in an effort to protect our patients and staff while maintaining our responsibility to caring for each and every one of you in the most thoughtful way. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact either one of us or your SDCA provider.
Karyl VanBenthuysen MD
President, South Denver Cardiology Associates PC on behalf of all Physicians of South Denver Cardiology Associates PC