News and Information

Women's Health and COVID-19

10-15-2020

Personal health and wellbeing should always been top-of-mind, but with the added strain of a global pandemic, prioritizing your physical and emotion health has never been more important. Dr. Kelvin Harris, OB/GYN at CaroMont Women’s Health, answers some top questions to help women and their families stay healthy and happy no matter the circumstances.

Women are often responsible for balancing many priorities, but few were prepared to add a global pandemic to that list. Do you have any tips for those who may be feeling increased stress and worry?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed nearly every facet of our daily lives and has undoubtedly created additional stress for everyone. I get this question a lot and aside from reassuring my patients what they’re experiencing is normal and valid, my advice would be to focus on things you can control. A great place to start is your physical and mental health. Even making one small healthy decision a day can help you feel more in control.

Also, practicing self-care is important. My patients are often focused on taking care of their loved ones instead of themselves, and I recommend prioritizing “me time.” Go for a walk, read a book, and focus on activities that create joy.

It is also so important for women to get adequate sleep. Typically, seven to nine hours per day will help a person function better and have an improved response to stress.

Has the pandemic changed the way women seek care?

Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to COVID-19, and I am finding that many women are choosing alternative ways to connect with their provider. Our healthcare system has done a wonderful job to establish a reliable telemedicine platform so more patients can see their doctor virtually. I have also noticed an increase in patients who are contacting me and my office through MyChart, CaroMont Health’s secure patient portal. MyChart allows patients to send messages and ask questions using an app or a desktop computer. We still prefer to see our patients in person, especially for appointments that can’t be completed virtually, but I think patients appreciate having other choices to interact with me and their care team.

How have OB/GYN appointments changed since the pandemic?

Besides the telehealth visits, patients will notice some changes when they come to our office. Prior to coming to the office, every patient is screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and when they reach the office, they are screened again for symptoms and their temperature is checked. Our entire care team is also screened every day.

Also, all patients and members of the care team are required to wear a mask in the office. Our waiting room seating is configured to allow for physical distancing, and our exam rooms are cleaned after each patient.

What hasn’t changed is our commitment to providing the best care and experience possible for every patient. I spend the same amount of time with them, answering their questions and listening to any concerns they may have. While being a healthcare provider during a pandemic is challenging, I am grateful for the opportunity to support and help patients every day.

How important is it for women to maintain regular appointments with her OB/GYN? What are some health concerns women should never ignore?

It is very important, especially during a pandemic, to prioritize your health. Keeping up with preventive care allows your physician to establish a baseline of what good health looks like for you personally and work to maintain it. This makes me better able to identify risk areas or understand when something isn’t quite right. Preventive care should include an annual exam including a pap smear, mammograms and other important screening, as appropriate. I also recommend patients have an annual medical exam with their primary care provider.

No one should ever ignore symptoms that cause concern, pain or discomfort. For women specifically, they should never ignore abnormal menstrual bleeding, postmenopausal bleeding, pregnancy-related concerns, and breast pain, lumps or abnormal nipple discharge. These are indications that something could be wrong with your health and with most illnesses, the sooner identified, the easier it is to treat and get you back to your best health.

Our office is always a very safe place to receive care, and we want to make sure that all our patients are doing what they need to be healthy and feel their best.

If you’re looking for a doctor you can trust, CaroMont Women’s Health can help. Visit our website to learn more about the expert, compassionate providers like Dr. Harris and make your appointment today: https://www.caromonthealth.org/Services/Womens-Health.aspx