Starting Wednesday, Essentia Health is postponing all scheduled routine appointments and elective procedures at all Essentia clinics and hospitals until April 1, according to a news release.

The health system made the decision to protect patients and staff amid the coronavirus pandemic, as well as redirect staff and resources to prepare for expected outbreaks, the release reads.

“We recognize that postponing routine appointments and elective procedures is disruptive to our patients and staff, but we always put safety first,” Dr. Peter Henry, Essentia's chief medical officer, wrote in the release. “We want to be ready to provide the care that our communities need in this unprecedented time."

Essentia will determine what to do with appointments and procedures scheduled for after April 1 at a later time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended hospitals postpone non-urgent appointments and surgeries.

Henry wrote that Essentia is expanding tools, like electronic and video visits, that help patients in lieu of an office visit. Patients can enroll in Essentia's MyHealth to access secure video visits with their providers by downloading the MyChart application or by visiting essentiahealth.org/myhealth to sign up.

Patients will receive a message through MyHealth or a call to reschedule appointments. If they're not able to schedule an online or video visit, office appointments will likely be reschedule in four to six weeks.

Surgeries, that if delayed won't negatively impact a patient's condition, will be postponed for two weeks. Patients will receive a call or a message through MyHealth to reschedule.

Patients needing to schedule elective surgeries and routine appointments can do so in four to six weeks — unless a patient's condition requires one sooner, the release reads.

The Mayo Clinic also announced Tuesday that it's postponing elective surgeries, procedures and office visits for eight or more weeks. It will continue offering semi-urgent, urgent and emergency care in its clinic and hospitals.

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