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Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital welcomes back patients

LAKE FOREST -- Consistent with Gov. JB Pritzker's extended stay-at-home order, beginning May 11, Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital resumed treatment for patients whose care had been postponed.

A multidisciplinary team of physicians and staff will coordinate this process in a gradual, thoughtful way, while ensuring they maintain necessary resources to care for patients diagnosed with COVID-19. As the safety and well-being of patients, physicians and workforce remains the highest priority, previously implemented policies to screen individuals entering Lake Forest Hospital and restrict visitors will remain in place.

An overview of the plans and new policies in place are provided below, so patients can better understand how to move forward in their patient journey.

“As always, the safety of our patients and staff remain our top priority, and we realize that the changes put in place is not business as usual,” says Jeffrey Kopin, MD, chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. “However, our extensive planning and preparation to welcome patients back to our facility will ensure that we live up to our ‘patients first’ mission, which has never been more evident than it is right now.”

Booking an Appointment: First, when a patient initially reaches out to book an appointment, each patient will be evaluated for the appropriate type of visit -- either an in-person visit or an appointment conducted by phone or video chat.

Currently, they are scheduling appointments for patients with immediate needs for care. If a patient’s condition is stable enough to delay care, they may recommend an appointment after May 31. If a patient has a serious chronic condition or is immunocompromised, they may offer phone and video e-visit options, and they are managing patient flow to isolate those with flu-like symptoms.
 
Screening for Illness: For those with in-person appointments or procedures, patients should be prepared that everyone entering Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Grayslake outpatient center will be screened for fever and asked about COVID-19 symptoms. Patients who are having surgeries or procedures will undergo more thorough testing prior to their arrival. Any patients exhibiting symptoms will be triaged for care or asked to return home.

Universal Masking: With the exception of inpatients who are in their hospital rooms, everyone is required to wear a mask while in Lake Forest Hospital or Grayslake Outpatient Center.
 
Extensive safety measures have been put in place at all facilities:

* The no-visitor policy remains in place with limited exceptions. We will continue to evaluate this policy as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

* Everyone entering Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital or Northwestern Medicine Grayslake Outpatient Center must wear a mask. Masks and hand sanitizer dispensers are available at all entrances.

* All patients, staff and visitors are screened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering any Northwestern Medicine hospital or outpatient clinic.

* All patients will be tested for COVID-19 prior to surgery.
 
Thorough cleaning throughout all Northwestern Medicine facilities:

* Our Environmental Services teams continue to perform rigorous cleaning of our facilities and we have increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.

* Exam rooms are disinfected after each patient.

* Magazines and other materials that can’t be cleaned properly have been removed from waiting areas.
 
Steps to help with physical distancing:

* Seating in waiting areas and common spaces have been modified.

* Signs indicate appropriate spacing.

* Elevator use is restricted and limited to no more than two persons at a time.Please allow additional time to get to your destination.

* Any required testing for patients with flu or COVID-like symptoms are conducted in a safe, designated location.
 
Tips for Patients Arriving Alone: Due to the no-visitor policy, a patient may feel uncertain about not having a companion with them for the medical visit. (However, please note, under certain circumstances one visitor may be allowed, such as a parent accompanying a child, a domestic partner during childbirth or an instance if the patient can’t receive treatment on their own).

The following tips may help ease your concerns.

* Let your caregiver know if you are feeling uneasy or stressed. This is a common response to any medical appointment, and discussing these emotions can be helpful.

* Familiarize yourself with your destination before arriving at the Northwestern Medicine building. Campus maps are available on nm.org by searching for the name of the location. You can also call ahead for specific directions. Once on-site, Northwestern Medicine employees will gladly provide assistance in locating a particular building or office.

* Make sure your phone is fully charged and bring a charger along if you anticipate spending several hours in our facility.

* Bring a list of questions for your provider. If you have a companion who typically joins you for your appointments, you can work together to make this list before you leave home.

* If you have a companion that typically joins you during your medical visits and you would like them toparticipate remotely via telephone, please discuss that with your provider.

* Be prepared to take notes during your appointment and remember to read any notes you receive at discharge. These notes may contain detailed information about treatment recommendations and future appointments.

* If you are expecting to have a longer procedure or infusion, consider downloading music, a television show, a podcast or game apps, or bring a magazine/book or other distraction to pass the time.

* If you will need an interpreter during your appointment or procedure, notify your provider’s office ahead of time.

* After your appointment, use the hand sanitizer available on-site. When you get home, wash your hands. Wipe down your phone, tablet and/or earpieces.

As needed, the extensive safety measures taken will continue to evolve to ensure Lake Forest Hospital and the Grayslake Outpatient Center provide patients and staff with a clean and safe environment for all. Please visit www.nm.org for the latest information and our response to COVID-19.

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