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Mayo reassures patients that safety measures are in place

Mayo Clinic Health System leaders are reassuring patients that safety measures are in place if they have health concerns that need to be seen by a provider.

Dr. Deepi Goyal, Mayo Clinic Health System regional chairman of clinical practice and emergency medicine physician for southeast Minnesota, said Minnesota has done well flattening the curve of cases of COVID-19, but because of that, the surge in cases has been pushed out further.

While some people have said peaks are anticipated between now and sometime in May, he is not anticipating peaks to occur until mid- to late fall. He said while this is great news in terms of not overwhelming the health care system, it means that people will be continuing to live in “a COVID-19 world” for the foreseeable future unless a vaccine or treatment is established.

He said over the last two months Mayo Clinic Health System, while following the state’s orders, has implemented new procedures, including securing personal protective equipment supplies for staff, instituting screening and masking procedures for patients, and developing a respiratory clinic specifically for patients with respiratory symptoms.

“I think we’ve created some really safe mechanisms so we can make sure we’re able to give patients that care,” Goyal said.

He said the health system is trying to find ways to bring back patients who need care as safely as possible.

“We really don’t want patients who have conditions that have been potentially worsening over the last several weeks to continue to wait,” Goyal said.

Patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and congestive heart failure have already started to be seen again by their providers.

He encouraged people to contact their care team to find out the most appropriate means of care. Some video visits and other technological methods will still be used, and he reminded people that the emergency department is always open for patients with urgent emergent issues who don’t have access elsewhere.

He encouraged people who need care but are concerned about the risks of COVID-19 to call their care team and have them direct the best way to get care.

COVID-19 testing

Goyal said the health system in southeast Minnesota — including Albert Lea, Austin, Owatonna and Red Wing — has conducted about 6,000 COVID-19 tests since the drive-thru testing sites opened.

With the announcement on Wednesday by Gov. Tim Walz that Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota have partnered to test as many as 20,000 people per day, Goyal said expanded testing will provide better access to testing to others across the state.

He said he did not think availability to testing in this part of the state had been a concern and said testing will continue at the various testing sites.

People are still advised to call Mayo Clinic Health System’s triage line before arriving at the site to be tested. Patients will still go through a screening process to ask them about their health, temperature, cough and other symptoms. If the evaluation finds they need to be tested, they are scheduled for a time to do so.

Tests are sent several times a day to Rochester to the lab to seek results.