During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to understand that when you need medical care, even during this pandemic, you should seek treatment. Please carefully review all the safety measures we have in place to protect all our patients and staff members.
When should I call 911 or go to the Emergency Department?
Call 911 if you are experiencing potentially life-threatening symptoms.
We understand you are concerned about your safety and the safety of loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic but it’s important to seek medical care when you need it. Delaying care may create greater risks to your health.
The following are just some of the symptoms for which you should immediately call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department. (Note: This is not a complete list.)
- Chest pain or pressure, palpitations, shortness of breath or other symptoms of heart attack or other heart problems
- Sudden numbness, weakness, confusion, loss of vision, problems with speech or balance, or other symptoms of stroke
- Unexplained or worsening shortness of breath, or other breathing problems
- High fever
- Intense or unexplained pain
- Heavy bleeding or bleeding without an obvious cause
- Severe injury or trauma, including deep, large or severe cuts
- Possible fractures or broken bones
- Any other problems that you consider an emergency
What if I'm afraid to go to the emergency department?
We understand those fears. Our emergency department is able to isolate patients who may have COVID-19 or other infections from those with other emergent problems. The emergency department staff members wears personal protective equipment, and places patients who may have COVID-19 in private rooms to ensure infections are not spread from person to person. Each patient room is fully cleaned and disinfected after each patient leaves. Note also that waiting too long to seek care for some health care emergencies is a bigger risk than the chance of contracting COVID-19.
What safety precautions are you taking to help make sure the environment is safe and clean for me?
Your health and well-being are our very highest priorities. At Johns Hopkins Medicine, our infection prevention specialists are leaders in providing guidelines to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and we take infection prevention very seriously in all of our clinics and operating rooms. In addition, we have carefully planned and taken extra precautions to help ensure that we are doing everything we can to minimize any risk to our patients and staff members.
Our medical staff works closely with our Department of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control to ensure the highest levels of safety are observed. We combine this knowledge with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maryland Department of Health.
We are implementing the following safety guidelines in our hospitals:
We are testing and screening.
- Everyone is screened for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors as they enter our buildings. Anyone admitted as an inpatient will receive a COVID-19 test.
- All staff members and physicians are screened daily. They do not come to work if there is any sign of symptoms related to COVID-19.
- We will immediately separate anyone in the facility who we believe may have COVID-19 before they come into contact with other patients, and then we will test for it.
We require universal masking and wear appropriate protective equipment.
- All staff members and patients must wear masks in the facility (except children under age 3).
- Our care teams treating COVID-19 patients wear personal protective equipment, including N95 respirators, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about protective equipment for staff members treating COVID-19 patients.
We are extremely focused on keeping our facilities clean.
- Surfaces and equipment are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using products that are effective against a range of organisms, including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
- We clean our waiting rooms frequently.
- Our exam rooms and operating rooms are cleaned and disinfected frequently, including before and after each patient, according to the guidelines of our Johns Hopkins infection prevention experts, the CDC and the Maryland Department of Health.
- Hand sanitizer is always available.
- Our doctors, nurses and all medical staff members sanitize or wash their hands before and after interacting with patients.
We are minimizing the number of people at the facility and practicing social distancing.
- Some hospital entrances have been closed to limit traffic and make sure everyone gets screened.
- We are not allowing visitors, with only a few exceptions.
- We are following all social distancing guidelines for patients and staff members.
- Our waiting room chairs are spaced 6 feet apart, and only a few patients will be allowed in the waiting rooms at a time.
- The number of staff members in exam rooms and operating rooms is limited and only those essential to your care are present. We maintain at least 6 feet between people except during medical care activities.
How do I know I won’t get COVID-19 in the emergency department?
Depending on the urgency of the patient’s medical needs, everyone entering the emergency department is immediately screened for COVID-19.
Our emergency departments are able to isolate patients who may have COVID-19 or other infections from those with other emergent problems.
- The emergency staff wears personal protective equipment and places patients who may have COVID-19 in specially designated private rooms to ensure infections are not spread from person to person.
- Each patient room is fully cleaned and disinfected after each patient leaves.
How do I know I won’t get COVID if I need to stay in the hospital for treatment?
Johns Hopkins Medicine has expertise in infectious diseases, and the training and preparedness to safely care for patients with COVID-19. This is our procedure for patients with COVID-19:
- All of our hospitals screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors. Anyone admitted as an inpatient will receive a COVID-19 test.
- Our highly skilled staff members know how to care for a patient with COVID-19, and how to protect themselves and others.
- Any patient with or under investigation for COVID-19 who is admitted to our hospitals is cared for with special isolation precautions by a dedicated team of nurses, doctors and other health care providers.
- Each patient room is fully cleaned and disinfected after each patient leaves.
How does Johns Hopkins make sure nurses, doctors and staff members aren’t sick?
All staff members at Johns Hopkins Medicine answer COVID-19 screening questions every day and attest that they do not have symptoms consistent with possible COVID-19 infection.
Anyone who reports symptoms that began in the last 72 hours is instructed to leave work immediately and report those symptoms to Johns Hopkins Medicine Occupational Health Services so that they can be evaluated and tested for COVID-19 if needed. Employees are not allowed to work if they have symptoms and they must be cleared by Occupational Health Services before returning to work.
How are you protecting women who come in for labor and delivery?
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of all patients and staff members, we are treating each woman who is admitted to Labor and Delivery for delivery as a patient under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. The care team will follow PUI procedures, wear proper personal protective equipment and test the mother for COVID-19.
Depending on the mother’s test results, she will be placed in a negative pressure room (when available) for delivery and cared for according to COVID-19 procedures, or she will be moved to a regular room and her care team will resume appropriate COVID-19 guidelines.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have extra measures in place at Johns Hopkins hospitals to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- All patients are screened for COVID-19 and must wear face masks.
- Patients should come alone to any appointments. Do not bring family members or friends unless you need assistance.
- Review what entrances and parking garages may be closed at your care facility.
- Review our visitor policy. We are currently not allowing visitors, except in very limited circumstances.
- Patients staying in the hospital are encouraged to bring their digital devices, such as a mobile device, tablet or laptop, so they can connect virtually with their loved ones during their stay. This will help patients to follow our revised visitor restriction guidelines.
- If hospital patients need items brought from home, they can only be essential items, such as hearing aids, glasses, dentures, communication devices (mobile phones, laptops, chargers), and small, inexpensive spiritual or religious items. Each hospital has a specific location for dropping off items.
- For The Johns Hopkins Hospital, items may be dropped off at the front desk at the Zayed, Weinberg and Nelson buildings.
- For Sibley, items may be dropped off at screening tables in Buildings A, B and D.
- For Bayview, call the Office of Patient Experience at 410-550-0626, Monday – Friday.
- For Suburban, items can be dropped off at the main hospital entrance and given to the security office at the information desk.
- Arrive early to allow extra time to park and enter the care facility.
In order to protect the safety of our patients and staff members, we currently have strict visitor restrictions across all Johns Hopkins Medicine facilities. Visitors are not allowed in our hospitals except for a few limited exceptions. Please review these carefully.
We will return to our pre-COVID-19, patient-centered visitor policies as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.
How can I connect with my loved one in the hospital?
We have created a list of COVID-19 virtual resources that will help you stay in touch with your loved one. Please review these digital resources to connect with your loved ones in the hospital and to assist them in their care.
Hospitals continue to see people with emergencies. For other care needs, you will be directed to outpatient, surgery centers and community physicians as we bring back care.
When should I be seen in person?
- If you have severe symptoms or something that requires physical examination, your provider may recommend an office visit. If your provider thinks it is warranted, he or she may recommend going to the emergency department or even calling 911.
- Many lab and radiology tests (such as X-rays or MRIs) can be delayed, but some should not wait. If you aren’t sure if a test needs to be done right away, contact the provider who ordered the test to find out.
- If you do need to come in for care, please remember that we following guidelines to prevent spread of COVID-19. Our hospital policies include COVID-19 screening, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
- Urgent and emergent problems always require you to be seen in person.
Why are elective surgeries and procedures not being offered at Johns Hopkins Medicine hospital locations at this time?
Our decisions on what services we can expand at this time are guided by the need to keep patients, clinicians and staff members safe while also monitoring the continued presence of the virus in our community and caring for COVID-19 positive patients in our hospitals. We will resume additional surgeries, procedures and office visits carefully so we ensure the highest level of care and safety for everyone.
Please know that our hospital and emergency departments are open to treat urgent and essential health care needs, and we continue to offer video visits through telemedicine between our providers and patients.
Since I scheduled my surgery, I lost my job and no longer have health insurance (or my insurance changed). What should I do?
If your insurance changed, please provide your clinic or surgery scheduler with the correct insurance information.
Johns Hopkins Medicine offers programs to help patients determine the best options for their unique financial situation. We can help you apply for Medical Assistance coverage through the state. To complete the screening and application process please reach us at 410-955-7798. More information about financial assistance and payment plans is also available.
Learn about our other patient care options, including:
- Expanded in-person primary and specialty care
- Video visits for primary and specialty care
- Elective surgeries and procedures
- COVID-19 testing and care
You can also enroll in MyChart to manage appointments, communicate with your provider, receive test results and request prescription renewals.