For many Minnesotans fall is our favorite season, from the changing leaves to the alluring scent of pumpkin spice. While we hope you’re enjoying the gorgeous outdoor landscapes, it’s important to remember that fall sparks the onset of cold and flu season. This year more than ever it’s critical to make sure your family sticks to important measures that keep everyone safe and healthy as we round the corner on this challenging year.
New safety measures that help prevent the spread of COVID-19 have created what might seem like a long list of “do’s and don’ts” this year. To make it easier to do your part to help prevent the spread of influenza, COVID-19 and other contagious diseases, the experts at North Memorial Health have designed a helpful checklist of safety practices and daily healthy habits to keep everyone healthier this season.
Get your flu shot.
Vaccination has been shown to be effective in reducing the incidence of influenza. This year, steps to prevent the flu are even more critical as we will face it alongside COVID-19, which can present similar symptoms and make diagnosis and treatment more difficult.
North Memorial Health team members are doing their part too! This year, the influenza vaccination program will be a mandatory participation for all North Memorial Health Team Members. We want to take every possible measure to protect ourselves, team members and communities we serve from preventable harm.
Consider a virtual doctor visit.
A virtual visit provides you with the care you need from virtually anywhere. Prescription refills, revisits and any concern that does not require an in-person exam or test are all great options for a virtual visit. It’s a convenient way to see your doctor from the safety of your own home either via video or even by phone. Phone and video visits are available five days a week from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and can easily and quickly connect you with your healthcare provider. Schedule a virtual visit by calling us at 763-581-CARE.
Reduce wait time with new MyChart features.
If you do need to visit your provider in person, North Memorial Health has added two new ways for you to check in virtually, reducing the amount of time you spend in clinic waiting rooms. Hello Patient, a new feature of the MyChart app, detects when you arrive and automatically checks you in before you ever enter the building. If you’re in need of care right away, On My Way is new technology from MyChart that notifies Urgent Care or Urgency Center staff that you’re on your way, you can pre-register before you arrive, and it even lets you share your medical concerns before you get there. Both Hello Patient and On My Way can help reduce the time you spend registering and waiting in person.
Get tested for COVID-19 when necessary.
North Memorial Health remains committed to providing unrestricted access to accurate, prompt COVID-19 test services. If you believe you’ve been exposed to the virus recently, or have symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, North Memorial Health offers nasal swab (PCR) tests at two locations, a drive-through site at our Robbinsdale Specialty Center (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and a walk-up location at North Market (Tuesday and Thursday).
If you think you’ve been previously exposed to COVID-19 and it’s been more than 14 days since the onset of symptoms, you can schedule an appointment to receive a new blood test, also called a serology test, that can detect the presence of antibodies to COVID-19. This test provides up to 100% accuracy for people who think they might already have had the virus.
Stick to daily healthy habits.
Stay vigilant about you and your family’s healthy habits, including the safety practices we’ve incorporated into our daily routines:
- Wear a mask in public areas, or anytime you’re in a large group of people.
- Practice social distancing by staying at least six feet (the length of a full-grown llama) away from others.
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Handwashing is particularly important after going to the restroom, coughing or sneezing, and/or caring for someone at home who is sick.
- Screen yourself for symptoms daily by checking your temperature for a fever of 100 degrees or higher. If you don’t have a fever, check for two or more of the following symptoms: Cough, sore throat, headache, shortness of breath, muscle or body aches, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, fatigue, congestion or a runny nose. A fever and/or two+ symptoms means it’s time to call your provider even if you don’t feel sick.
Getting your flu shot, scheduling online provider visits whenever possible, using technology for virtual check-ins and other functions, and understanding when and how you should be tested for COVID-19 are some of the best ways to protect not only the health of you and your loved ones, but your community as well. Keep practicing daily healthy habits as well, and your fall season can be happy, healthy and safe.