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Q: Is it safe to reschedule my colonoscopy?

If you had to postpone a colonoscopy or other routine health screenings due to COVID-19, you’re not alone. Since March, routine cancer screenings have decreased by as much as 94% nationwide. Now that Hawaii's coronavirus cases are lower and the state has essentially “flattened the curve,” healthcare providers are available and prepared to safely take care of you - it’s time to schedule that appointment.

It’s important to keep up with your routine health screenings. Experts have warned that potentially dangerous cancers could go undetected if people don’t get their regular checks. Screening can help detect cancer early, before it grows and becomes more difficult to treat. Please call your doctor and ask about the screenings you need to schedule. The sooner, the better.

Coronavirus is a concern, but so much more has been learned about how to safely prevent exposure to the virus and precautions are in place to keep you safe. If you’re concerned about safety at the doctor’s office, ask about what precautions they are taking to protect you from COVID-19. Be prepared to follow new procedures, such as waiting in your car, answering a survey about your health, or getting a temperature check at the door.

At Maui Memorial Medical Center, outpatient and elective procedures, like colonoscopies, are being scheduled again and the hospital is following strict safety protocols to keep patients and employees safe. This includes requiring all patients to have a negative COVID-19 test prior to their procedure. Patients who come in through the ER are given a test prior to being admitted as well. Other safeguards include symptom and temperature screening at the door, universal masking (all patients, employees and providers are screened and provided an appropriate mask before being allowed to enter), visitor policies to limit traffic in and out of facility, frequent enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, added spacing in waiting rooms and public seating areas to allow for social distancing, additional sanitizing stations installed on each floor, and, should a patient be under suspicion or test positive, we have designated patient care areas and negative-pressure isolation rooms to protect other patients and employees from being exposed. Our team is highly trained and well equipped to care for all of our patients, while protecting themselves and those around them.

Nobody’s eager to get a colonoscopy, and you may be reluctant to come in to the doctor due to concerns about COVID-19, but it’s important to reschedule now that it’s safe to do so. Cancer doesn’t stop during a pandemic, and neither should your routine health screenings.

Cindy Hara
Director of Perioperative Services