Frequently Asked Questions for Returning to Essential Care

Frequently Asked Questions for Returning to Essential Care

Returning to the healthcare setting can raise concern for you and your loved ones, especially during this uncertain time. To help ease your concerns, review these answers to patients’ frequently asked questions below.


Is my hospital or healthcare facility safe to visit?

Federal and state agencies have created safety guidelines for healthcare facilities and precautions are being taken for  your safety, to help you feel more confident in seeking care. All hospitals and healthcare facilities should have established special cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

For more information on the steps your hospital is taking, contact them directly.

What precautions should I be taking to protect myself once I am at my healthcare facility?

To help prevent you from getting COVID-19 or passing it to others, you will likely be asked to:1

  • Wear a face mask or covering to limit your risk of getting or spreading the virus.
  • Avoid crowded waiting areas. You may be asked to wait in your car.
  • Limit visitors or people coming to your appointment with you. Visitors must also wear face masks.
  • Have your temperature taken and provide information about your health status.
  • If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, be sure to tell your health care provider before you go to your visit.

How can I find my healthcare facility’s plan for COVID-19?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommend hospitals have a COVID-19 care plan.2 To ask for your location’s specific plan, call your healthcare facility.

What if I have a pre-existing condition?

Certain medical conditions at any age can put you at a higher risk of a severe COVID-19 illness. The CDC compiled a list of pre-existing conditions that may put you at a higher risk.3 However, be sure to talk to your doctor as you evaluate your own risks.

What if I am 65 or older?

People 65 and older are at higher risk of contracting or becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 according to The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and are advised to take additional precautions.1 Be sure to talk with your doctor as you evaluate your own risks. 

What qualifies as an elective surgery?

An elective surgery is one that can be scheduled in advance.4 While a surgery may be considered elective, many of these procedures could potentially save a life, preserve organ function, and avoid further harm from underlying conditions or diseases.5

What are the scheduling options for elective surgeries? 

Elective surgeries can range from small procedures, like having a mole removed, to more invasive operations, such as major surgeries.4 Smaller surgeries may be done in a doctor’s office, while others must take place in a hospital or surgery center. Many hospitals and surgery centers are scheduling procedures as same-day surgeries to limit the length of time you would be required to stay in the hospital.

Will I be allowed visitors before and after my surgery? Do visitors have to do anything special when they come to the healthcare facility? Will they get tested for COVID-19? 

Rules for visitors vary state by state. A list of these rules and required protective measures can be found here.6

Will I be tested for COVID-19?

Your hospital may want to test you for COVID-19 before your surgery. If you test positive, your surgery may be postponed.

What’s the difference between screening and testing for COVID-19?

“Testing” commonly means a physical sample will be taken and examined. This will often be an oral or nasal swab. “Screening” often takes place over a conversation. Your healthcare professional will likely ask you a set of questions regarding your history of symptoms and whether you’ve come in close contact with any known COVID-19 patients. Additionally, your healthcare professionals will likely check your temperature.7


1. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "Re-Opening America: What Patients Should Know About Seeking Healthcare." Accessed August 4, 2020.  Available at:
2. Newswise.  “Anesthesiologists Provide Elective Surgery Checklist for Patients During COVID-19.”  Accessed August 4, 2020.  Available at:
3. CDC.  “People with Certain Medical Conditions.”  Accessed August 4, 2020.  Available at:
4. John Hopkins Medical.  “Types of Surgery.”  Accessed August 4, 2020.  Available at:
5. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  “CMS Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations: Limit all non-essential planned surgeries and procedures, including dental, until further notice.”  Accessed August 4, 2020.  Available at:
6. American College of Surgeons. “COVID-19: Executive Orders by State on Dental, Medical, and Surgical Procedures.” Accessed August 4, 2020. Available at:
7. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.  “Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic.”  Accessed August 4, 2020.  Available at:

Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies Elective Surgery Survey. Accessed August 4, 2020. About the Survey: This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of DePuy Synthes from July 9-13, 2020 among 2,016 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. (CLICK TO PDF)

The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always talk to your doctor before you make decisions about your health.

For additional information, please contact us at [email protected]

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