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When to consider rescheduling doctor visits during coronavirus outbreak

HOUSTON – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages the people in our community most vulnerable to Coronavirus to stay home as much as possible, avoid crowds and reschedule nonessential doctor appointments.

The vulnerable population includes people 60 and older, people who have weakened immune systems and people with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes.

For them, the CDC said, appointments like general physicals, check-ups, follow-ups for a stable condition or an elective procedure can be rescheduled, or make the appointment virtual instead, meaning they encourage calling a telemedicine doctor from home.

While deciding what your essential appointments are is a personal decision. Dr. Michael Braun, chief of Renal Service at Texas Children’s Hospital, said dialysis is one appointment considered critical, so people who require it should keep going to.

“What it really means for them, they need to have a heightened awareness about recommendations to reduce the risk,” Braun said. “Pay attention to handwashing, basic hygiene issues, making sure they decrease their risk of exposure.”

Many prenatal appointments can seem pointless and pregnant women may feel uneasy about going into the doctor, but Dr. Kjersti Aagaard, maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, said even if a pregnancy is healthy, women should continue going to their regular appointments.

“We’re a little bit nervous that early reports that pregnant women are somehow safer than non-pregnant women or older women are possibly not correct,” Aagaard said.

The only exception, Aagaard said, is if someone has symptoms of coronavirus. Then they should avoid the office to keep other patients safe.