Tips: Traveling to Mayo to get medical care safely during COVID-19

Medical needs don’t go dormant and wait for the current pandemic to pass. People still need cancer treatment, heart surgery, diagnostic procedures, joint replacements, lung assessments, wound care and compassionate care. Some medical needs can be met through telemedicine, but certainly not everything.

Compassionate care at Mayo Clinic COVID-19

Postponing nonessential appointments and surgeries in March allowed time to increase Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 testing capabilities. Mayo Clinic hospital and intensive care capacity meets and exceeds the current projected needs for COVID-19 patients, due to a revised, smaller expected COVID-19 peak. With these important favorable developments, Mayo Clinic is ready to safely treat patients whose care was delayed, in adherence with federal and state executive orders and guidance. Mayo is also welcoming new patients, and able to offer more phone and video visits to new and established patients. Read more about the new precautions Mayo added to minimize risk of COVID-19 transmission

What can you do to stay safe when:

  • Going to the hospital for appointments
  • Traveling to a hospital out of your local area
  • Staying at a hotel
  • Getting food

What are your tips?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Post-COVID Recovery & COVID-19 group.

@chiczebra

I’m scheduled to be at Mayo Rochester for 2.5 weeks of appointments in November. It’ll be my first time and I’m thrilled to be going, but am really worried about the travel. I live in Florida (Mayo Jacksonville doesn’t have the diagnostic facilities and specialists I need) and the drive is 22 hours, which would be very challenging to do. The flight is 5+ hours with one layover (I’d likely fly Delta). I’m not worried about cleanliness at Mayo, but am very worried about the travel itself. If I drive, then there are hotels and rest stops along the way. If I fly, it’s exposure to everyone at the airport and on the plane. I’m young, but high-risk with multiple preexisting conditions, yet my doctors here think it’s even higher risk for me to stay here and not go to Mayo for further diagnostics/treatment. I’ve read all the guidelines about travel, have face masks, shields, gloves, etc. but I’m curious about people with actual firsthand experience doing this over the last couple months. Has anyone made such a long journey during these COVID times? What’s your experience been like? And does anyone have a hotel/apartment near Mayo that’s totally impressed them in terms of COVID precautions? So appreciative of any suggestions!

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I am currently in Rochester with appointments at Mayo for the next two weeks. I am over 65 with type II diabetes so Ian in a high-risk class. I live in Tennessee and flew on Delta to Minneapolis and then to Rochester. Delta was very good about social distancing both in terms of boarding and then getting off the plane. Delta really did follow its stated practice of not putting passengers in middle seats. The Minneapolis airport was deserted….on a Saturday afternoon. I have stayed in the Kahler Grand but found an alternative in the Broadway Plaza. I am renting a small apartment with a kitchen (!) for less than what it would cost me to stay at the Kahler. The Broadway Plaza is a short walk to the Gonda Building, the Mayo Building, and Charlton. There are several restaurants that are following strict protocols in terms of co-vid 19; I also went to Hyvee to get groceries. The Mayo Clinic is scrupulous about cleaning and social distancing. For me, flying was better than driving. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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@chiczebra

I’m scheduled to be at Mayo Rochester for 2.5 weeks of appointments in November. It’ll be my first time and I’m thrilled to be going, but am really worried about the travel. I live in Florida (Mayo Jacksonville doesn’t have the diagnostic facilities and specialists I need) and the drive is 22 hours, which would be very challenging to do. The flight is 5+ hours with one layover (I’d likely fly Delta). I’m not worried about cleanliness at Mayo, but am very worried about the travel itself. If I drive, then there are hotels and rest stops along the way. If I fly, it’s exposure to everyone at the airport and on the plane. I’m young, but high-risk with multiple preexisting conditions, yet my doctors here think it’s even higher risk for me to stay here and not go to Mayo for further diagnostics/treatment. I’ve read all the guidelines about travel, have face masks, shields, gloves, etc. but I’m curious about people with actual firsthand experience doing this over the last couple months. Has anyone made such a long journey during these COVID times? What’s your experience been like? And does anyone have a hotel/apartment near Mayo that’s totally impressed them in terms of COVID precautions? So appreciative of any suggestions!

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@chiczebra
The drive from the Minneapolis airport is just and hour and a half to Mayo Clinic, you may want to rent a car at MSP and avoid the second flight.

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For $35 each way you can get a Shuttle from the airport in Minneapolis to Rochester. That is what I did in July. I stayed at the Sleep Inn and was dropped off there and picked up there for my return home. That is cheaper than renting a car. The Shuttle does social distance and then their is a Shuttle from the Sleep Inn to Mayo.

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@sueinmn

Hello – My husband & I are both older & have high-risk health conditions. We have made a couple of trips, including a 24 hour one from Winter to Summer residences at the end of April with 2 overnight stops, and a 5 day vacation.

Here is how we did it:
-I plotted the trip via our normal route, and contacted hotels to ask their Covid precautions, then chose 2 which sounded the safest.
-We planned & packed all of our meals & snacks enroute, freezing soup & chili to eat in our room in the evening (most hotels have microwaves.) We packed our own dishes & utensils, as well dish soap & paper towels. We did eat the hotels' "to go" breakfasts & drank their coffee & tea.
-Another option is to pack prepackaged meals that do not require refrigeration – there are a lot of options on the grocery shelves. Or takeout meals from the drive-thru window of the many fast food restaurants that surround hotels.
-When we entered out hotel room, we immediately wiped all hard surfaces with sanitizer wipes, and sprayed all soft surfaces with Lysol. (We removed bedspreads to the closet in hotels which had them.)
-We tried to make our rest stops at wayside rests or very large, busy truck stops (found them cleanest) masked but did not glove and carried in sanitizer wipes in ziplock baggies to clean surfaces before using, then sanitized our hands again before getting into the car. We also frequently wiped down the "touch surfaces" in our car. We found smaller gas stations not as good about keeping clean.

We have come through our trips very safely – even making a short vacation trip where we ate outdoors in a restaurant & shopped quickly in a local grocery for extra items.

With respect to personal physical precautions, please keep in mind that masks which are worn should be handled as though contaminated & discarded safely or stowed in a bag and washed promptly. We carry at least 3 washable masks each, and hand wash and air dry at the end of each day. We also each carry N-95 masks to wear in case of close contact with anyone over a period of time.

Gloves are a special concern. They are meant to be worn once and safely discarded. Repeatedly putting the same pair of gloves on & off results in contaminating them inside and out AND potentially carries the virus from one location to another. Unless you have access to boxes of surgical gloves, it is better to be careful what you touch and to thoroughly wash or sanitize your hands frequently. We carry hand sanitizer "spritzers" in pocket, purse & car and refill from a larger bottle.

Face shields are intended as extra protection for prolonged or close contacts, and meant to be worn with a face mask. They are not adequate protection by themselves.

Good luck in your travels & treatment.
Sue

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@sueinmn Sue, you sound just like me! When I came to Mayo, we walked into the hotel suite (with a kitchen) and cleaned every surface including the inside of the refrigerator, freezer, microwave, all doorknobs, etc. I clean the surface before I put my bag down on it, and if we use the hotel's cart, I spray it first. I don't put anything on the floor. I have my own collapsable wagon which is good for bringing my gear. I bring paper towels and spray bottles of hydrogen peroxide (and refills). It's economical, unscented as does the job. I spray all the soft surfaces like the couch, chairs,etc. I remove the bedding and pillows except for the fitted sheet, and use my own instead. I spray the fitted sheet with hydrogen peroxide and let it dry. I also spray both sides of any towels or washcloths we will use and hang them to dry. Sometimes we bring our own towels. I put the hotel's dishes, silverware, glassware that we plan to use into the dishwasher we we arrive and run it. I don't unload that; we just take out things as we need them. When we check out, I load the dishwasher and run it. I also bring my own HEPA filter. I have been using them at home for years because of allergies and asthma, so that is kind of normal for me, but surely will help clear the air.

Of course, I have lots of good surgical masks and a respirator as well as BUFF neck gators that I can put over my masks. The respirator has equivalent particle filtration to N 95 and fits tight. Every time I remove a mask, it gets the hydrogen peroxide treatment and is left to dry. I also have hand sanitizer that I bring and keep with me, but I don't leave stuff in a hot car that contains alcohol. Bread wrappers and sleeves from bagels or english muffins are good to use as a glove for gas pumps, door knobs and ATM's and they are easy to wash and sanitize and you don't have issues turning them inside out like you do with a glove. They easily turn inside out so you can keep the dirty side inside, and later sanitize it for reuse. I have also cleaned ATM screens before using them with paper towels and a spray cleaner.

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@jenniferhunter

@sueinmn Sue, you sound just like me! When I came to Mayo, we walked into the hotel suite (with a kitchen) and cleaned every surface including the inside of the refrigerator, freezer, microwave, all doorknobs, etc. I clean the surface before I put my bag down on it, and if we use the hotel's cart, I spray it first. I don't put anything on the floor. I have my own collapsable wagon which is good for bringing my gear. I bring paper towels and spray bottles of hydrogen peroxide (and refills). It's economical, unscented as does the job. I spray all the soft surfaces like the couch, chairs,etc. I remove the bedding and pillows except for the fitted sheet, and use my own instead. I spray the fitted sheet with hydrogen peroxide and let it dry. I also spray both sides of any towels or washcloths we will use and hang them to dry. Sometimes we bring our own towels. I put the hotel's dishes, silverware, glassware that we plan to use into the dishwasher we we arrive and run it. I don't unload that; we just take out things as we need them. When we check out, I load the dishwasher and run it. I also bring my own HEPA filter. I have been using them at home for years because of allergies and asthma, so that is kind of normal for me, but surely will help clear the air.

Of course, I have lots of good surgical masks and a respirator as well as BUFF neck gators that I can put over my masks. The respirator has equivalent particle filtration to N 95 and fits tight. Every time I remove a mask, it gets the hydrogen peroxide treatment and is left to dry. I also have hand sanitizer that I bring and keep with me, but I don't leave stuff in a hot car that contains alcohol. Bread wrappers and sleeves from bagels or english muffins are good to use as a glove for gas pumps, door knobs and ATM's and they are easy to wash and sanitize and you don't have issues turning them inside out like you do with a glove. They easily turn inside out so you can keep the dirty side inside, and later sanitize it for reuse. I have also cleaned ATM screens before using them with paper towels and a spray cleaner.

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so hydrogen peroxide is a good disinfectant or sanitizer that one could use against this Covid-19?

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Does the hydrogen peroxide bleach fabrics?

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@jolinda

Does the hydrogen peroxide bleach fabrics?

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The hydrogen peroxide purchased in stores has a concentration of 3% which can bleach fabrics. Diluting it might reduce its effectiveness in terms of being a disinfectant.

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@elizaba

so hydrogen peroxide is a good disinfectant or sanitizer that one could use against this Covid-19?

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Yes, it is a good disinfectant at full strength, but make sure it is FRESH from a new sealed bottle. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down quickly from light or heat or air, so put a little at a time in your spray bottle or use a dark opaque one. It can bleach fabrics, so please don't spray it on upholstery without testing.

Also, fabrics are a very poor host for Covid-19, especially when washed with soap & dried in a hot dryer, so I don't worry much about sanitizing laundered towels and bedding, especially in hotels that seal rooms for a day or two between cleaning and occupancy.

In the past few years I have become a big fan of lodgings that are replacing all room carpets with easy to clean vinyl woodlook flooring – very easy to see if it is clean, and far fewer trapped allergens like dust mites. I also appreciate rooms with windows I can open, always asking for one on the quietest side of the building.
Sue

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@ihatediabetes

Yes, I have high cholesterol. Then they did that calculation of chance of heart attack or stroke in next ten years. That was over 8%. So doctor said that I should be on statin. But I tried statin once and it made my legs hurt. So I didn't want a statin for rest of life. So doc said that I could get a calcium score which indicates plaque. My calcium score was 0 which means no plaque whatsoever which means no atherosclerosis. So that means the chance of heart attack or stroke is actually very low. So I don't need statin. Just because someone has high cholesterol doesn't mean the person has plaque. So I came to conclusion that you can't just put someone on a statin based on blood cholesterol. Calcium score is more accurate. I'm in executive health program so I get a doctor that is a thinking and listening doctor. Plus I can get a CT scan for calcium score. But I don't think everyone is getting a calcium score and their docs are putting people like me on statins unnecessarily. That's my opinion.

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@ihatediabetes, Jennifer I read your post with great interest. I had a stroke a few years ago but had been on Lipitor for hi chol. for several yrs before the stroke. I now take Atorvastatin and while my chlor. numbers have stayed in the normal range for some time, I am becoming more concerned about taking the statin and plan to ask my pcp about discontinuing it at my next annual visit. I hadn’t known of a calcium scan and will ask about that also. Thank you for your very imformative post.

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@chiczebra

I’m scheduled to be at Mayo Rochester for 2.5 weeks of appointments in November. It’ll be my first time and I’m thrilled to be going, but am really worried about the travel. I live in Florida (Mayo Jacksonville doesn’t have the diagnostic facilities and specialists I need) and the drive is 22 hours, which would be very challenging to do. The flight is 5+ hours with one layover (I’d likely fly Delta). I’m not worried about cleanliness at Mayo, but am very worried about the travel itself. If I drive, then there are hotels and rest stops along the way. If I fly, it’s exposure to everyone at the airport and on the plane. I’m young, but high-risk with multiple preexisting conditions, yet my doctors here think it’s even higher risk for me to stay here and not go to Mayo for further diagnostics/treatment. I’ve read all the guidelines about travel, have face masks, shields, gloves, etc. but I’m curious about people with actual firsthand experience doing this over the last couple months. Has anyone made such a long journey during these COVID times? What’s your experience been like? And does anyone have a hotel/apartment near Mayo that’s totally impressed them in terms of COVID precautions? So appreciative of any suggestions!

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In reply to chiczebra: it looks like you’re getting good travel advice….I have gone to Mayo Rochester during covid and am headed there again in early November for a brief appointment (hopefully). Anyway, if you have the money, I would recommend staying at the Hilton Mayo area hotel. They do an outstanding job of making you feel safe and comfortable.

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