Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital continues to provide safe and high quality care for our patients. We recommend that patients keep scheduled clinic appointments, unless ill, or if their doctor advises otherwise. We are also seeing new patients for consultation. Most routine lab testing and radiology exams can be scheduled and performed. Our clinicians are available during normal clinic sessions.
Several of our secretaries, medical assistants, nurses and doctors are working from home and some outpatient clinic visits have been changed to virtual clinic appointments. Virtual visits are also called telehealth visits and are being used to promote physical distancing. They use either your smart phone or a personal computer so you may see and speak to your clinician. Telephone appointments can be arranged when a smart phone connection is not possible.
Our Commitment to Your Safety
Mass General is committed to providing you with the care you need—and we have implemented new policies and procedures to continue to keep you safe during these unprecedented times. For those who require in-person office or procedural care, we have heightened precautions to ensure that your visit to the hospital is welcoming and safe. This includes:
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfection of our facilities
- Screening patients and staff for symptoms and exposures each day; employees reporting symptoms cannot report to work and patients with symptoms are seen in a special clinic
- Reducing volume of patients to allow physical distancing
- Staggering arrival times to prevent patients from coming in contact with others
- Directing admission to the exam room for clinic patients to avoid the waiting room
- Accompanying patients to the front door to be picked up by their escort
- Requiring all clinicians, staff, patients and vendors to wear masks in public and clinical spaces
- Re-organized waiting rooms with fewer chairs and floors by check-in; desks have been marked with tape at six-foot intervals
- Offering virtual visits through the internet wherever possible
- Testing all patients for COVID-19 before admissions; patients with a COVID positive status are being seen and treated in the routine ambulatory clinic (RACC)
- There are separate elevators and entrances for patients positive for COVID-19. These areas are clearly marked so that all patients are aware when onsite
- Installed hand sanitizer throughout Mass General and are requiring everyone to put on a new mask at the front door
If you have any questions for your health care provider, please use Patient Gateway as the most direct and efficient manner to contact your care team.
Frequently Asked Questions for Surgical Patients
Why was my surgery postponed?
Mass General decided to delay elective surgeries in order to conserve resources for COVID-19 care and ensure the safety of our patients and all those at the hospital. Though the name implies that “elective” means the surgery is by choice, that is not necessarily true. Elective surgeries are ones planned in advance, such as cosmetic surgeries, bariatric surgery and joint replacement surgeries.
However, we are now available and prepared to resume operations and see you at the hospital, either in person or virtually (online). We can help you decide which type of care is most appropriate for your situation.
Should I delay obtaining care for a while?
No, it is very important that you get the care you need. Postponing your treatment can result in a worsened condition or the need for more serious treatment. We encourage you to contact us with any concerns related to your health. From there, we can learn more about your symptoms and condition, and advise you on whether an in-person or virtual visit is most appropriate.
What if I have COVID-like symptoms?
Please call your provider if you are experiencing any upper respiratory symptoms at the time of your appointment, such as:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose/nasal congestion
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
- Inability to smell
To help us safely care for you, please notify us of any combination of these types of symptoms before you visit the hospital. This will help us advise you on the best course of action to resume your care, whether it is an in-person visit or a virtual visit.
You will receive a phone call prior to your appointment, a message through Patient Gateway, and will be screened for symptoms and/or exposure to COVID at the time of appointment check-in in our office. It is important to report any symptoms you have so we can ensure that all Mass General visitors are safe.
What is telemedicine/a virtual visit?
This is a great option if you do not require an in-person visit or if you are not comfortable with an in-person visit. In some cases, we may be able to resume your care plan virtually. We can do this in real time over video or phone using your computer, tablet or smartphone. The provider will consult with you the same as they would in an in-person visit.
How are virtual visits in the Department of Surgery conducted?
We utilize a variety of secure virtual video visit platforms; however, our preferred system is a Zoom platform that is integrated with Patient Gateway. You must have an active Patient Gateway account to utilize this preferred system. You will be prompted to download Zoom prior to your first virtual visit and these visits are accessible on either your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile devices. Patients will receive virtual visit appointment reminders 24 hours prior to visit along with complete instructions. If the Patient Gateway platform is not available, your provider with work with you on connecting with another secure virtual visit system.
What happens when I arrive at the hospital?
You will be greeted by a Mass General employee who will provide you with hand sanitizer and a mask and will direct you to your appointment location. It is possible you may be asked multiple times about any symptoms you may have. This allows us to send symptomatic patients to the most appropriate location
Can a friend or family member accompany me to my appointment?
To ensure everyone’s safety and reduce the risk of transmission, no in-person visitors are permitted in the hospital and clinics at this time. While we understand this is difficult, this precaution limits everyone’s exposure. There are a few exceptions, under special circumstances.
It is possible to engage a family member or friend in a visit via FaceTime or speaker phone during your visit to help with questions and listen to the care team’s guidance for you. If this is of interest, ask your care team to assist you with this.
Are my doctors also seeing COVID-19 patients?
Not all doctors are seeing COVID patients. Those who do are following expertly-designed PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and hygiene protocols both for themselves personally and the space where they work. Mass General patients with COVID-19 who require ambulatory care are being seen and treated in the routine ambulatory clinic (RACC) and enter via a separate entrance/elevator, etc. All patients are screened multiple times before arriving in order to ensure that patients with a positive COVID status or symptoms are not seen in the ambulatory clinics.
Surgical Care during COVID-19
Our Strength Is Yours
In these unprecedented times, it remains important that you get the care you need for your health conditions. At Mass General, our dedicated physicians, nurses and staff are committed to providing the best possible specialty care—safely and effectively.