Oak Street Health Survey Reveals That Seniors Will Exercise Caution As Businesses Reopen; Doctors Offer Advice on Staying Healthy in “New Normal”
CHICAGO, IL — June, 25 2020 — As communities across the country begin to reopen, many seniors are left wondering what activities are safe and how they can protect themselves as they leave home more regularly. Oak Street Health, a network of primary care centers that delivers value-based care to adults on Medicare, surveyed 1,000 adults in the U.S. ages 65 years and older on the precautions they plan to take and their outlook on the next phase of the pandemic.
The survey, which targeted participants across urban, suburban and rural areas, found that seniors have taken the advised safety precautions seriously, and plan to continue doing so as restrictions are lifted. Key highlights include:
- Seniors have followed recommended safety orders. While shelter-in-place orders have been in effect, the vast majority of seniors surveyed have practiced social distancing (91%) and worn masks and/or gloves in public (90%) as their primary safety practices. Three-fourths of seniors surveyed (75%) have quarantined at home with limited access to other people or public places.
- Safety first is the “new normal.” Looking ahead, the majority of seniors surveyed report they will continue to practice social distancing (87%) and wear masks and/or gloves in public (82%). Additionally, 63 percent of seniors will pay more attention to personal hygiene, including more frequent hand washing, bathing and changing of clothes as a means to stay healthy.
- Readiness to be in public is dependent on location. Urbanites surveyed are slightly less hopeful (38%) about their routines returning to normal once public places reopen over those living in suburban (31%) and rural areas (32%).
- Telehealth is here to stay. Seniors are still interested in telehealth appointments with their doctors. In fact, 64 percent of senior adults surveyed are likely to continue virtual video and phone visits with their healthcare providers after states reopen, and seniors living in rural areas (68%) are the most likely to continue these visits. This presents an opportunity for healthcare professionals to proactively start conversations with their patients to determine which method of treatment (on-site or online) will best meet their individual needs and provide the strongest feeling of safety.
As many areas of the country begin lifting shelter-in-place restrictions, Oak Street Health has implemented extensive disinfecting protocols and precautions to mitigate risk to make sure that seniors returning to in-person primary care visits are entering a safe environment. Whether seniors are visiting a medical center, shopping, dining out or going out in public for other reasons, Dr. Julie Silverstein, Executive Medical Director of Oak Street Health’s Northeast Region, encourages seniors to continue to be vigilant, cautious and selective in the activities they take part in.
“The definition of ‘normal’ as we transition will not be the same as it was before the onset of the pandemic. It’s important for our patients and all older adults to follow enhanced safety practices, like they did when self-isolating, as they create new day-to-day routines,” said Dr. Silverstein. “Preventive care is key and will play a major role in determining how quickly seniors can increase the extent of their engagement with other people, especially indoors. As stores and restaurants open, it’s natural to want to be inside but with large volumes of people, we recommend that seniors and their families stay cautious and conscious of their surroundings, while practicing physical distancing.”
In terms of what the “new normal” will look like for in-center patient visits, Dr. Silverstein iterates the organization’s enhanced measures to maintain a safe environment and to inform patients of all their treatment options when visiting doctors either in person or via telehealth.
“Our care teams are taking extensive measures to safely see patients and make them feel comfortable. Some of these precautions include, but are not limited to, wearing protective equipment, thoroughly disinfecting exam rooms and our green transportation vans between contact with patients, while continuously screening for COVID symptoms.”
To learn more about Oak Street Health visit www.oakstreethealth.com.
About Oak Street Health
Founded in 2012, Oak Street Health is a fast-growing network of value-based, primary care centers for adults on Medicare. With a mission of rebuilding healthcare as it should be, the company operates an innovative healthcare model focused on quality of care over volume of services, and assumes the full financial risk of its patients.
Oak Street Health currently operates more than 50 centers across Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, North Carolina and Tennessee, with plans to continue its geographic expansion, including into Texas and New York, in 2020. To learn more about Oak Street Health’s proven approach to care, visit oakstreethealth.com