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

Posted by Colleen Young, Connect Director @colleenyoung, Wed, May 6 4:44pm

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?

@fiesty76

I haven't driven since 3/13th but have been concerned about gas pumps. Really like your idea of the plastic bags and although I have gloves, think I'll use your idea when I make my first gas refill because it will be an added awareness. Thank you.

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@fiesty76, When you do begin to drive again, please be extra careful. After a 5 week break from driving, I had to have labs drawn. I was excited to see the world again, and I caught myself being easily distracted and had to force myself to focus on the road! Since that time, I am driving to pick up grocery order which is placed in my trunk for me. So the driving is getting more narural.

@roch, Thank you for the update on Rochester's reopening plan. My husband was looking for information about restaurants and wondering if they would be serving . I surprised him by telling him what you shared! I told him that I have access to insider information. .

@dandl48, I hope that you will have nice weather and be able to enjoy some scenery along the way to Rochester. How long will you be in Rochester? Do you and your wife share the driving? I will be in Rochester in 3 weeks for a two day appointment schedule that was postponed from April. We will be driving from Kentucky, and following our usual pattern of an overnight and sharing the driving. I would bet that Rochester will be different 3 weeks later for me, than it is going to be for you.

@1nan, That is wonderful that you can have your tests done at home and have a virtual meeting with your doctor. I know that it will be much more relaxing!

Thank you to everyone for sharing your tips.

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@sueinmn

We just made a 1500 mile 3 day trip between our winter and summer homes. To say I was anxious beforehand would be an understatement!
Here are some things we did:
– Called and asked about precautions being taken before reserving our hotel rooms.
– Stocked up on masks (reuseable ones), sanitizing wipes (including several in baggies for our pockets-see below) and pet waste bags (for touching gas pumps.)
– Planned our route to allow stops at rest areas (less people than truck stops) when possible.
– Carried all our own food and beverages & disposable tableware for the 3 day trip, including evening meals to warm up in the hotel. Sanitized refrig and microwave before using. We elected not to try takeout because we had no idea what restaurants would be available.
– Used sanitizer wipes thoroughly in all restrooms and hotel rooms and on surfaces we touch in the car after each stop.
– Wore masks in all rest/truck stops, hotels common areas and elevators.
– Showered and washed our hair before going to bed, and changed all outer clothes each day. Washed and dried all masks each evening.
– Used our own pillows and blankets.

Here are some things we observed:
– Most people were not wearing masks, but many tried to maintain distance, especially retail workers and truck drivers, who seemed aware that the extra exposure to people put them at risk.
– Self-serve areas were mainly closed in truck stops and hotels, a single employee poured coffee, bottled drinks were sold, hotel employees gave out brown bag breakfasts of packaged items in lieu of a buffet.
– Hotels had shields at their desk, or set out paperwork a safe distance from the employee, they were busy sanitizing surfaces between customers.
– Less traffic, except trucks.

So, travel is possible, just not very much fun right now. 7 days later, we survived the trip nicely, and are in day 7 of our self-quarantine, feeling just fine, thank you.

Next week, we will both be heading (locally) to rescheduled lab and medical appointments. I am anxiously hoping thumb repair surgery is in my near future, so I'll be waiting to hear about anyone else's experience in clinic/same day surgery.
Sue

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My husband and I will be traveling from Tennessee to Mayo in Rochester. Thank you for your tips. I am not the most imaginative cook so I am curious to learn what type of meals you prepared to reheat in the microwave and what food did you bring to eat while traveling.
Thanks.

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@rosemarya

@fiesty76, When you do begin to drive again, please be extra careful. After a 5 week break from driving, I had to have labs drawn. I was excited to see the world again, and I caught myself being easily distracted and had to force myself to focus on the road! Since that time, I am driving to pick up grocery order which is placed in my trunk for me. So the driving is getting more narural.

@roch, Thank you for the update on Rochester's reopening plan. My husband was looking for information about restaurants and wondering if they would be serving . I surprised him by telling him what you shared! I told him that I have access to insider information. .

@dandl48, I hope that you will have nice weather and be able to enjoy some scenery along the way to Rochester. How long will you be in Rochester? Do you and your wife share the driving? I will be in Rochester in 3 weeks for a two day appointment schedule that was postponed from April. We will be driving from Kentucky, and following our usual pattern of an overnight and sharing the driving. I would bet that Rochester will be different 3 weeks later for me, than it is going to be for you.

@1nan, That is wonderful that you can have your tests done at home and have a virtual meeting with your doctor. I know that it will be much more relaxing!

Thank you to everyone for sharing your tips.

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@rosemarya We arrive on Sunday 5/24 and leave either 5/31 or 6/1; all depends on recovery from the Prostate Biopsy. My wife and I will be sharing the driving. Hope everything works out for you!

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@bernese53 Try Chili & homemade soup (can be frozen), meatloaf & veggies – I pack just enough for a meal. Also no reheat options – tuna macaroni salad, chicken wild rice salad, cottage cheese & fruit cups. Other foods that travel well – carrot sticks or other raw veggies, grapes, tangerines, apples, cheese (we like string cheese, curds, or little 1oz portions like Baby Bel), beef jerky, cashews or your favorite nuts, bread or pretzels or crackers with peanut butter or hummus, low sodium V-8 juice, liquid meal replacement drinks or nutrition bars (choose some you like) – many of these are also handy to throw in the bag for waiting at the clinic.

Don't forget a little chocolate, if that's what you like, or a bit of wine or other adult beverage of your choice. Don't forget a paring knife, throw away or reuseable dishes and cutlery, a bit of dish soap and a roll of paper towels.

What do you usually eat when on the road?
sue

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@sueinmn

@bernese53 Try Chili & homemade soup (can be frozen), meatloaf & veggies – I pack just enough for a meal. Also no reheat options – tuna macaroni salad, chicken wild rice salad, cottage cheese & fruit cups. Other foods that travel well – carrot sticks or other raw veggies, grapes, tangerines, apples, cheese (we like string cheese, curds, or little 1oz portions like Baby Bel), beef jerky, cashews or your favorite nuts, bread or pretzels or crackers with peanut butter or hummus, low sodium V-8 juice, liquid meal replacement drinks or nutrition bars (choose some you like) – many of these are also handy to throw in the bag for waiting at the clinic.

Don't forget a little chocolate, if that's what you like, or a bit of wine or other adult beverage of your choice. Don't forget a paring knife, throw away or reuseable dishes and cutlery, a bit of dish soap and a roll of paper towels.

What do you usually eat when on the road?
sue

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@bernese53.. Throwing my two cents in..on long drives I freeze a couple of bottled water and pack them in my cooler, keeps cold food cold and good to drink on the way.

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For those visiting Mayo Rochester , the following link from MN governor's office shows what is open:

Minnesota's Stay Safe Plan:
https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/stay-safe-mn/stay-safe-plan.jsp
Laurie

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Another tidbit for those travelling to Rochester Mayo – even when the restaurants first open for dine-in on June 1st, it will be patio seating only, and Minnesota weather is notoriously fickle, so maybe continue to plan for takeout or delivery.
Our governor is being very cautious, and we appreciate it because hospital admissions and ICU admits are surging in the Twin Cities and other hot spots.
Sue

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My husband was very immune compromised for several years when we needed to visit cancer centers for tests and treatments outside our community. We opted for a small RV which can be parked at the medical facility, sometimes even overnight. They are available to rent if you don't want to take the dive into ownership and actually cost about the same as staying in a hotel and paying for restaurant food. I recommend googling class B or C RVs for rent by owner in your area. A class B is no different than driving a regular van, but has a kitchen, bathroom, and bed. A class C is roomier and really not difficult to drive, especially if it is 24' or so feet and you don't try towing a car behind it. Owners registered through rental groups must adhere to strict sanitizing procedures between rentals, but I will do my own when I head to Mayo JAX for breast radiation for 5 days in June. When renting from an owner, prices are often negotiable, and may be decreased when they are advised of a medical need. Many owners are not traveling right now due to partial or total park closures so are renting theirs for at least the time being. I'm no real expert, but may be able to answer simple questions any of you have. For me, this is just the easiest, least scary way to travel right now.

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We had Class C for several years to travel. Went all over US more than once and loved the convenience of it. And they just took up a bus size parking space when we made in town stops or at various tourist locations. Very easy to drive. That is a good option to put forward. Nancy

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@rosemarya

@fiesty76, When you do begin to drive again, please be extra careful. After a 5 week break from driving, I had to have labs drawn. I was excited to see the world again, and I caught myself being easily distracted and had to force myself to focus on the road! Since that time, I am driving to pick up grocery order which is placed in my trunk for me. So the driving is getting more narural.

@roch, Thank you for the update on Rochester's reopening plan. My husband was looking for information about restaurants and wondering if they would be serving . I surprised him by telling him what you shared! I told him that I have access to insider information. .

@dandl48, I hope that you will have nice weather and be able to enjoy some scenery along the way to Rochester. How long will you be in Rochester? Do you and your wife share the driving? I will be in Rochester in 3 weeks for a two day appointment schedule that was postponed from April. We will be driving from Kentucky, and following our usual pattern of an overnight and sharing the driving. I would bet that Rochester will be different 3 weeks later for me, than it is going to be for you.

@1nan, That is wonderful that you can have your tests done at home and have a virtual meeting with your doctor. I know that it will be much more relaxing!

Thank you to everyone for sharing your tips.

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@rosemarya, Yahoo throws my posts into spam…even with a filter set up…aggravating! Yes, thank you for that tip about starting driving again. I will probably go bonkers for sure trying to take everything in after being in place for so long!

Liked by zep

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feisty76 – I was quite wobbly and agog when I first drove again after a month and a half or so of four-wall staring. Had to look at everything a little bit too long.

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After driving 2140 over 4 days we arrived on Sunday. Today I had appointments with Specimen Collection (Covid19 sinus swab) and than a blood draw. I was very pleased with the sanitary cleaning that was done at the Specimen draw. As soon as someone got up, their chair was cleaned and anything that was touched also cleaned. This however was not the case in the waiting room for the blood draw; no one was cleaning the areas used. It was as if we were in a different hospital.

Liked by lilypaws

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@dandl48 Wow, that's a lot of miles. What Mayo are you going too? I go to the one at Rochester, we only have t o drive 3 and1/2 hours from the Des Moines, IA area. It's the best place to go. I'm going to be having a Spinal Fusion there on June 9th. From T10 to my pelvis. It's a big and long surgery. At least they don't have to go through the front, just the back. I'll be glad to get rid of my pain that really makes me feel not do anything. I'm tired and The Tymlos make me more fatigued. It's to increase my bone mass.. What are you going to Mayo for?

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@lilypaws At Rochester for Barrett's Esophagus and Prostate. I agree it is a fabulous Hospital. Best of luck with your surgery, quite a major one.

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Are you considering rescheduling travel that you put off because of COVID-19? Maybe you have work or family obligations or medical appointments that require you to travel. Yet worries about safe travel and lodging are holding you back. Get the facts about your travel options and learn how to protect yourself if you must travel.

For those times when travel is unavoidable, Mayo Clinic published this guidance on how to do it more safely:

Coronavirus travel advice https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-safe-travel-advice/art-20486965
What would you add?

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