Background: As of 3/21/2020, because of the danger of overloading the health care system, Illinois went to a "shelter in place" mode. The # of cases and total deaths are increasing with time (of course they could hardly go down). As of 5/19/2020 the deaths/day in the state of Illinois have been averaging about 100. As things have not "blown up", hospitals such as Northwestern Memorial and medical clinics cautiously opened in the week of May 11. Current information about the Coronavirus in Chicago can be found on the Northwestern Medicine Coronavirus Webpage. We also find the Illinois Dept of Health data very helpful.
The coronavirus is mainly a respiratory pathogen, and does not seem to be a source of dizziness or hearing loss. There is some literature about it infecting the eyes however. We support the steps recommended by the CDC to reduce the speed that it is transmitted, i.e. "flatten the curve", and we think this has worked. We expect that the flattened epidemic will be with us through June.
What we are doing:
CDH, being a medical practice, is an essential business and has not shut down, but we have scaled back. We reduced "in person" visits to the clinic, by substituting telehealth. We are physically in the office, answering the telephone, refilling prescriptions, seeing about 2 "live" patients a day/provider and doing a lot of televisits. We will continue to offer televisits to high risk patients as long as health insurance permits. We are also doing "tele-triage" -- getting basic information over the phone rather than in person. In this regard, if you know your weight, your blood pressure and pulse -- please let us know over the phone.
Three types of visits: regular, televisits, blended.
If you are low risk and come to visit us in person right now, you are a "regular visit", we require a mask (any kind). There are no hand shakes with anybody. We take the temperature of all people entering the clinic (including staff), we ourselves use gloves, masks, and wipe down surfaces including examination equipment. Our waiting room chairs are widely spaced out.
We offer televisits -- i.e. smartphone or computer video appointments for situations such as once/year follow-up visits for Meniere's patients. This means that we will go through the same process as we do for "live" visits (i.e. get out your chart, go through our Epic EMR to see what has been going on with other doctors, discuss your symptoms with you, refill medications as needed), but we do not require you to be here in person. As of May 11, we are encouraging low risk returns to visit in person, as we can do a better job and the risk is low.
We offer "blended" visits to new patients who we consider "high risk", as defined by age or fragility. If you are on an immunosuppressant, for example, we would consider you high risk at any age. A blended visit is one that is mostly conducted over a telephone to ascertain your symptoms, combined with a brief examination (about 30 minutes).