Disclaimer: At UPMC HealthBeat, we strive to provide the most up-to-date facts in our stories when we publish them. We also make updates to our content as information changes. However, education about COVID-19 can shift quickly based on new data, emerging variants, or other factors. The information in this story was accurate as of its publish date. We also encourage you to visit other reliable websites for updated information, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and your state and local governments.
As sports teams consider a return to play amid COVID-19 and patients return to in-person care after postponing essential treatment, we are sitting down with Brian F. Hagen, DPT, MS, OCS, FAAOMPT, administrator and vice president of UPMC Sports Medicine and outpatient rehabilitation at UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, to ask some important questions that may be on your mind.
Q: Are all services being offered at this time?
A: Whether it’s in-person or virtual, every sports medicine service is being offered at this time. Athletic training, concussion, imaging, performance, nutrition, physical therapy, and physician services are all proceeding as usual while taking necessary precautions. If you were engaged in any of our services prior to COVID-19 or delayed care, please reach out to us to schedule an appointment. We want to get your care back on track. If you are a new patient in need of an initial appointment, please call us at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).
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Q: It is safe to return to the sports medicine facilities for my appointments?
A: We are taking all measures to keep you safe in our facilities, and that includes our medical and sports sectors of the UPMC Rooney and Lemieux Sports Complexes. From screening staff and patients for symptoms, to limiting visitors and requiring mask use, we are doing everything in accordance with the State Department of Health guidelines. This also includes cleaning and sanitizing our locations regularly.
Q: Are video visits still available if I don’t feel comfortable coming in?
A: While we encourage you to attend an in-person visit for many of our services, video and telephone visits are still available for certain services, like routine and follow-up appointments with primary care sports medicine physicians. Virtual visits are also available for many of our out-of-pocket services, like sports nutrition and performance. Our experts are working on a case-by-case basis with patients to decide which appointments, procedures, and surgeries you should schedule for in-person care now.
Q: Do I need to wear a mask to my appointment?
A: As of now, we are requiring that everyone wears a mask in our facilities to protect both patients and staff. If a health condition makes you unable to wear a mask, please let us know while scheduling your appointment. As public health circumstances change rapidly, our guidelines may change as well. I can assure you that our staff will provide guidance prior to any in-person appointments.
Q: Is COVID-19 testing offered at sports medicine facilities?
A: Testing for COVID-19 is not available at sports medicine facilities. However, UPMC has several testing centers throughout the region. Please note that testing sites are not open for walk-in testing. Patients need a physician order or an appointment with the collection center. While we do not conduct testing at sports medicine facilities, please remember that we are screening staff and patients for symptoms upon entry. For everyone’s safety, anyone showing symptoms will not be permitted to enter the facility and will be provided further instruction.
Q: If I don’t feel well, should I cancel my appointment?
A: Yes; we kindly ask that all staff and patients refrain from entering our facilities if they do not feel well. Patients should not feel obligated to attend their appointment if they are not feeling well. Please call to let us know you are canceling, and our staff will work to reschedule your appointment as soon as possible.
Q: Can I bring anyone to my appointment with me?
A: Beginning the week of June 1, 2020, all UPMC in-hospital and freestanding outpatient settings, including UPMC Sports Medicine facilities, will permit one designated support person for adult patients and two support persons for pediatric patients. Support persons are not considered visitors; they are seen as essential to the patient’s care. Patients must identify the support person who will assist them during their care. The full guidelines for outpatient support persons can be found here.
Q: How can we social distance in services like physical therapy?
A: There are some services, physical therapy included, in which patients and staff will be unable to be at least six feet apart. With the double barrier of both parties being masked and limiting conversation while performing exercises in the most efficient way possible, these services can be provided safely for all parties involved. While appointments like those that require physical contact must be conducted in person, appointments that require only conversation or instruction can be conducted virtually when appropriate.
Q: How will my appointments change as COVID-19 changes?
A: As the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 change and public health standards adapt, our guidelines for in-person and virtual visits will likely change as well. UPMC Sports Medicine staff will make each patient aware of any changes to upcoming appointments and make any urgent information publicly available on our website.
Q: Will athletes at partnered schools still be able to get the care they need?
A: Yes; athletes at partnered schools will still have access to their UPMC athletic trainers (ATs) as they return to sports in 2020. Although visits to the ATs may look different (requiring scheduling, masks, etc.) to keep everyone safe, they will still be a resource to help prevent and treat sports-related injuries and refer athletes to physicians for more serious conditions. Our Return to Sports Playbooks contain recommendations for establishing a minimal set of standards in several categories for resuming athletic programs amid COVID-19.
About Sports Medicine
An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.