By Deb Malewski

Contributing Writer

— Many things are changing around us due to the pandemic situation that we face, and many are unsure how to handle changes in the normal events of our daily life, like our everyday, non-emergency healthcare.

“We want the community to know that it’s safe to receive care,” said Lindsay Peters, spokesperson for Eaton Rapids Medical Center (ERMC).

“We urge people not to delay emergency care out of fear of contracting COVID-19. Our team will do everything possible to keep you safe,” Peters said. “We have procured additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and have implemented additional safety precautions.

“We have increased our cleaning and sanitization practices and have made adjustments to provide safe airflow to patient areas. Everyone who enters is screened for symptoms of COVID-19 and is given a mask.”

Even the waiting room, Peters said, has been set up to allow for proper spacing between the chairs, and patients are urged to wait in their car to limit exposure. All frontline staff are wearing masks during their entire shift to protect patients, visitors and each other.

As an additional layer of protection, the hospital has launched telehealth. Nichole VanElls, DNP, MSN, ANP-C, FNP-C, is the driving force behind getting telehealth up and running, Peters said.

“We are committed to the health of our community,” VanElls stated. “If you are not feeling well or have a non-life-threatening medical concern, we welcome all walk-in or telehealth visits. Our providers are happy to evaluate you or your family member to determine the cause of your symptoms.”

With telehealth, you can connect with your ERMC Family Practice and Mental and Behavioral Health providers using your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Telehealth consultations are virtual appointments conducted over video conferencing services.

“Redicare telehealth is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for any non-life-threatening conditions such as sore throat, poison ivy, and cold-like symptoms,” VanElls stated. “The clinic is also still open for walk-in visits for injuries and infections.

“All routine visits are still continuing but are done via telehealth to protect all of our patients,” VanElls stated. “If you come in for lab testing or other tests you will be screened prior to entering the building and will be given a mask to wear.”

Some examples of conditions that can be treated online include cough, fever, congestion, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, concerns for COVID-19 symptoms, poison ivy and rashes.

“We recommend any life-threatening emergencies such as symptoms of stroke or heart attack be seen immediately in our emergency department.”

On March 21, Governor Gretchen Whitmer halted elective (those not deemed as an emergency) surgical procedures. This came at a time when hospitals were preparing for an uptick in COVID-19 patients and were low on personal protective equipment for their staff. While Governor Whitmer did not lift any of the earlier restrictions she placed on nonessential surgeries and procedures at her May 1 news conference, she urged residents to start scheduling them.

“We are not currently performing elective procedures,” Peters said. “The procedures that are scheduled are deemed time-sensitive by the surgeons but we are encouraging patients to start booking their future procedures.”

You can access telehealth via the ERMC website at Call 517-999-4500 to schedule an appointment.