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Urology Patient Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic: What You Need to Know

Hospital staff wearing a mask while at a desk.

Brian Matlaga, M.D., M.P.H., of the Brady Urological Institute, discusses COVID-19 testing before your urologic procedure. He also answers your questions about precautions and policies the Brady Urological Institute has in place to help protect staff and patients. 

“These days, because of concerns around COVID-19, some people are hesitating to make appointments for medical care they need,” Matlaga says. “They are worried that a trip to the doctor’s office might expose them to the coronavirus.”

But urologic health problems aren’t taking a back seat to the coronavirus. And waiting too long to be seen by your doctor could cause a minor problem to turn into something more serious.

“If you’re dealing with a painful kidney stone or other urological problem, or if it’s time for your regular cancer screening, you should see your doctor,” says Matlaga.  

Here’s everything patients should know about seeing their Johns Hopkins urologist:

Do urology patients need a COVID-19 test?

If you are having urologic surgery at the hospital or a procedure at any of our ambulatory surgical centers, such as Green Spring Station, we require a test for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. You do not need to be tested before an office visit that does not involve a procedure or surgery. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor.

Why do I need to have a coronavirus test before my urologic procedure?

As part of our commitment to keeping everyone safe and reducing the spread of COVID-19, Johns Hopkins has procedures and policies in place to help protect you as well as all our patients and staff. We require a COVID-19 test because your urologic procedure involves close contact between you and your practitioner. Knowing your COVID-19 status before you arrive is essential for us so we can provide the care you need while protecting staff members and other patients.

When do I need to be tested for COVID-19?

The test needs to be done within 72 hours of your procedure, but no less than one day before, so that your results will be in your medical record (Epic) before we begin.

Where should I go to get a COVID-19 test before my procedure?

We encourage you to get your COVID-19 test at a Johns Hopkins testing location, so our labs can ensure you get the test result in time for your procedure.

It’s quick and easy to get a COVID-19 test at Johns Hopkins. Nevertheless, we understand that coming to our facilities twice may be inconvenient for you. Your cooperation ensures that we can take the best care of you and help keep you and others safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In some cases, we do accept test results from outside facilities as long as they are provided to your physician in the requested time before your procedure. Please discuss this when your procedure is scheduled.

How do I schedule my coronavirus test?

The easiest way to schedule a COVID-19 test at a Johns Hopkins facility is scheduling one through MyChart. If you don’t have a MyChart account, call your doctor’s office and our staff can help schedule a test for you. Please review our information on testing. You may be able to perform a self-test at certain test locations. An appointment, a photo ID and a face mask are required for all tests.

What happens if my COVID-19 test is positive?

Unless your doctor believes it is urgent to proceed with your procedure, we will postpone it until you are better. We will also recommend next steps for you in seeking treatment for COVID-19. Learn more about coronavirus testing and care.

Can I bring a family member or friend with me to my appointment?

Johns Hopkins Medicine’s visitor guidelines are being updated as we monitor and respond to the spread of the coronavirus and potential COVID-19 surges in our area.

For now, in general, outpatients are asked to come alone to their appointments, but certain exceptions may apply to you. If you require assistance because of a disability, or if you are undergoing urology surgery or treatment in a Johns Hopkins hospital for longer than one day, you may be able to have a care partner accompany you.

Check these visitor guidelines for the most up-to-date policies that may apply to you, your situation and your location.

How We Are Protecting Our Staff

  • Each employee is screened every day, and asked about symptoms and exposure to anyone infected with the coronavirus.
  • Health care practitioners and office staff members wear personal protective equipment, including medical grade masks and face shields, according to Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Control regulations.
  • We have marked spaces at our clinics to maintain appropriate physical distancing. To avoid direct contact between staff members and patients, plexiglass screens have been installed at check-in and checkout.
  • Patients thought to have COVID-19 are cared for in isolation rooms with appropriate protocols.

The Brady Urological Institute: We Have Your Safety Covered

Hospital sign about masking.

When you arrive for your appointment, you can count on these precautions to help keep you safe from the coronavirus:

Masks and protective equipment. Masks prevent the spread of COVID-19. Everyone must wear a mask when they enter our facility. (Children under age 2 are offered a mask, but they are not required to wear them.) Your care team wears protective equipment.

Cleaning and disinfecting. We frequently and thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces throughout all of our medical offices, waiting rooms, operating and procedure rooms, clinics and other patient areas. Every exam, operating and procedure room is cleaned and disinfected thoroughly after each patient is seen or treated. High-touch areas such as door handles are regularly wiped down with disinfecting agents.

We also wash our hands frequently, and we have installed extra hand sanitizer dispensers throughout our centers.

Testing and screening. Every day, every patient and employee is screened before entering any of our care facilities. Anyone admitted as an inpatient, or who is having a surgery or procedure, will be tested in advance for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Those who get a positive test result are isolated safely from other patients, or we postpone their surgery or procedure.

Physical distancing. We have redesigned and marked off our patient areas to ensure physical distancing to help protect you, other patients and our staff members.

Thank you for helping us keep you and others safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We appreciate your support of our policies, and we look forward to treating you.

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