Kidney transplant patients are a vulnerable population during COVID-19. So much about the virus, CKD, transplant and treatment options are rapidly updating.
So what can you do as a transplant physician to help your patients through this difficult time?
Stay extra vigilant
- Ensure that the transplant patients on your caseload follow their treatment plan and have their immunosuppressive therapy treatments routinely tested and evaluated.
- Remind patients to keep an adequate supply of all medications to avoid missing doses and to keep all their appointments.
- Stay informed through reliable sources. A good resource is the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) COVID-19 Resources for the Transplant Professional.
As a physician, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the devastation caused by COVID-19. However, transplant patients who have concerning labs, such as an increasing creatinine and lowering eGFR, should still be evaluated and treated in a timely manner.
Patients may want to delay or stall an evaluation. Reassure your patient and don’t delay an assessment because the patient fears “getting COVID-19.”
How can you help transplant patients that may have anxiety or concerns?
Be aware that as medical practices open, transplant patients may be hesitant to meet face-to-face. When appropriate, allow patients to determine if they are most comfortable receiving treatment during office visits or with telemedicine appointments.
If a face-to-face appointment is needed, ensure that you and your staff are following all precautions:
- Make sure you and your staff wear a mask properly.
- Wash your hands.
- Have hand sanitizer and masks available for patients.
- Be mindful of the space in your exam room. If the room is small, consider having only the patient present and have the loved ones call in during the appointment.
- Avoid a large congregation of patients in your waiting room. For example, if possible have patients wait in their cars and call them when a room is ready.
- Try to create a sense of normalcy. This is an opportunity to educate patients and create comfort in social distancing. Taped-off chairs with caution tape can be overwhelming and uninviting for patients. Instead, remove extra chairs and space the remaining chairs appropriately. Ensure that your waiting area is welcoming while still adhering to medical practice social distancing regulations.
As the country continues to deal with the pandemic, stay up-to-date with the latest information. Check out this helpful resource for you and your patients from the National Kidney Foundation Transplant & COVID-19.
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