How to safely access care during the unprecedented health crisis of COVID-19
We all find ourselves living through an unprecedented public health crisis with the emergence of a global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus; COVID-19). Those living with migraine and other disabling headache disorders will continue to require care, and some of the nation’s leading health care institutions have taken measures designed to provide care while protecting patients and health care workers, minimizing the spread of the virus, and carefully utilizing health care resources. These measures are based on recommendations from our nation’s leading public health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Many doctors will be offering “virtual” visits as a safe alternative for outpatient clinic visits. You may need to discuss a rescue care plan with your provider to ensure that you are able to avoid the emergency room and urgent care for your own safety and the safety of others. Virtual visits include portal visits, phone calls, or telehealth by video through the internet including through your smartphone.
If you are not feeling well, particularly with a cough, shortness of breath, or fever, you should not come to the clinic and instead contact your primary care provider for further directions. The COVID-19 pandemic is evolving rapidly and daily and we expect to update this guidance as the situation changes.
While there may be differences among health care institutions and headache clinics in the recommendations provided, we recommend patients consider postponing and rescheduling the following for at least the next 8 weeks:
- All non-emergent procedures
- All new face to face consultations. Where possible, arrange for a virtual (video telemedicine/telehealth) consultation.
- All face to face follow-up visits. Where possible, arrange for follow-up visits with your provider via telephone or virtual (video telemedicine/telehealth) visits.
As mentioned above, each patient should work closely with their health care provider to determine the optimal treatment for their acute migraine attacks. This includes options for ‘rescue therapies’ for headache pain that doesn’t respond to their usual first-line acute treatments. Having first-line, second-line, and rescue treatment options may prevent the need to visit an emergency department or urgent care where the risk of exposure to and transmission of COVID-19 is increased.
Also, whenever possible, having a 90-day supply of your medication will reduce the running short of medication as well as diminish the need for visits to the pharmacy. Utilizing mail order and/or drive through pharmacies whenever possible will also enhance social distancing and the risk to you and others.
We know how stressful this time is for everyone and we are aware that stress may be a significant trigger factor for some. We are also very aware that the need for social distancing can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. We encourage you at this time to stay connected with family and friends via a phone call, email, direct messaging, texting, FaceTime or a Netflix party.
We will be holding special Facebook Live events to help address your questions and manage your symptoms during this difficult time. Please know that we will continue to dedicate ourselves to do whatever we can to help people impacted by migraine and other headaches disorders, and together, we will continue to #MoveAgainstMigraine during this pandemic
The following links may be helpful to you.
Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundation’s subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. Click here to read about our editorial board members.