Patient Safety During the Pandemic

You and your loved ones are safe at Yale Medicine.

Yale Medicine remains committed to delivering first-rate medical care in the safest setting possible. Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that people who require medical care still see their providers and get treatment. We have introduced a set of safeguards, all designed to keep our patients, visitors, and staff safe from exposure to the coronavirus.

The following FAQ details the precautions Yale Medicine is taking to ensure a safe environment at all of our medical facilities.

What precautions is Yale Medicine taking to keep people safe?

Mandatory screening. Everyone who enters our medical facilities—patients, visitors, and staff—will have their temperature checked for signs of fever and will be asked to answer screening questions about COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone with symptoms will be tested for COVID-19.

Universal masking. Because SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness, is spread primarily from one person to another through respiratory droplets expelled through coughing, sneezing, and talking, we require that face masks be worn by all patients, visitors, and staff. Masks reduce the number of virus-containing droplets that enter the environment. If you do not have a mask, we will provide one for you.

Hand sanitizer stations. It is possible that novel coronavirus transmission can occur when someone touches respiratory droplets from an infected person that have landed on a surface and then touches his or her mouth, nose, or eyes. Because of this, good hand hygiene is crucial to preventing transmission of the virus. To this end, we provide hand sanitizer at all entrances and at stations located throughout our facilities.

MyChart to minimize face-to-face contact. To minimize direct physical contact with office staff, we encourage all patients to use MyChart, an online patient portal that can be downloaded for free as an app to a mobile device or accessed via Yale Health’s MyChart website. MyChart allows patients to schedule appointments, visit doctors remotely via telehealth, fill out any required paperwork before going to the doctor, check in for appointments electronically, and make any necessary payments online.

Minimal time in waiting rooms. At many of our locations, patients can avoid the waiting room altogether. At certain locations, you will be able to call us from the parking lot or outside of our facilities to let us know you have arrived. We will then call you to let you know when to come in, and you’ll go directly to your exam room.

Social distancing. For patients who cannot wait in their cars or outside of the building for their appointments, we have modified waiting room seating arrangements and taped lines on floors to ensure at least six feet of distance is maintained between individuals at all times. Reception and check-out desks are now equipped with plexiglass shields to further reduce the chances of transmission.

Reduced patient traffic. Whenever possible, we are scheduling only two patients per hour and each doctor is assigned two exam rooms. This reduces the number of patients who come through our offices and exam rooms each day and minimizes patient-to-patient contact.

Cleaning/disinfecting after every patient. All of our offices, waiting rooms, and restrooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected several times a day. Exam rooms are cleaned after each patient and deep-cleaned every night. Our cleaning protocols, which follow the latest infection prevention guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), involve disinfecting surfaces by destroying infectious pathogens, including the novel coronavirus. We use hospital-grade disinfectants that the EPA has approved for use against SARS-Cov-2.

Only medically necessary visitors. Each patient is allowed one visitor at most, and only if it is deemed medically necessary.

What precautions are being taken to ensure that staff do not transmit COVID-19 to patients?

All staff have their temperature taken twice a day to monitor signs of fever, and they are regularly tested for COVID-19. If a staff member tests positive for COVID-19, he or she is sent home and cannot return to our facility until they recover and are no longer infectious.

All medical staff are required to wear face masks and, when necessary, additional PPE (personal protective equipment) such as face shields, goggles, gowns, and gloves. Though you may have heard about PPE shortages, our staff and facilities are equipped with the PPE they need.

Does Yale Medicine have special accommodations for at-risk patients?

We take extra precautions for people with conditions that put them at higher risk, such as having a pre-existing medical condition—including those that compromise immunity—or advanced age. For instance, people over age 65 will be seen during separate hours.

Will my outpatient surgical procedure be safe?

In addition to our standard temperature and COVID-19 symptom screening, all patients scheduled for surgical procedures will be tested for COVID-19.

Upon arrival, whenever possible, patients skip the waiting room and instead directly enter the pre-operative area. After recovering from their surgical procedure, patients exit the facility via the most direct route possible. These protocols are intended to minimize patient exposure to other people in the building.

Whenever possible, follow-up appointments are conducted by telehealth so as to minimize unnecessary physical interaction and avoid potential exposure to the coronavirus.

Operating rooms and recovery areas are thoroughly disinfected after each procedure. Our cleaning protocols follow the latest CDC disinfection guidelines and are designed to eliminate infectious pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, from all surfaces.

Can I receive health care from home?

Whenever possible, medical care is delivered via telehealth appointments. Telehealth allows patients to communicate with doctors and medical professionals from their own homes using mobile devices. Patients can see their doctor on a screen, and likewise, doctors can see their patients. Doctors also have access to medical records during telehealth appointments.

I believe I have COVID-19. What precautions should I take for my appointment?

If you believe you have COVID-19, contact your primary care doctor by phone to schedule an appointment for a coronavirus test.

Appointments for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 are scheduled for certain times of day or are seen at separate facilities. Our staff deep-cleans exam rooms each night to ensure they are disinfected for the next day.

What if I’m anxious about coming in for an in-person appointment or a visit to the emergency room?

If you have questions concerning COVID-19 or coming to our facilities for an in-person appointment, please call our Yale Medicine/Yale New Haven Health COVID-19 Call Center at 203-688-1700 (toll-free, 833-484-1200). Health professionals are available by phone seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.