Essentia Health is postponing all routine appointments and elective procedures for two weeks, beginning March 18.

The decision affects appointments and elective procedures scheduled at any Essentia hospital or clinic from March 18 to April 1. Decisions about appointments and procedures after April 1 will be made later.

The decision was made to protect patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, says Dr. Peter Henry, Essentia Health’s chief medical officer. The decision, he explains, also allows Essentia Health to deploy staff and resources to prepare for expected infection outbreaks in communities it serves.

“We recognize that postponing routine appointments and elective procedures is disruptive to our patients and staff but we always put safety first,” Dr. Henry says. “We want to be ready to provide the care that our communities need in this unprecedented time.”

Postponing non-essential appointments and elective procedures is in line with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as recommendations from the Surgeon General and the American College of Surgeons.

  • Routine clinic appointments are being rescheduled unless a physician or advance practice provider sees a need for an office visit. Patients will be called or receive a message through Essentia MyHealth to reschedule their appointments. Patients may be offered a telephone visit, an E-visit or an online video visit through MyHealth. If these options don’t work, office appointments are expected to be rescheduled in four to six weeks.
  • Elective surgeries and procedures will be postponed for two weeks if the delay will not adversely impact a patient’s condition. Patients will be called or receive a message through Essentia MyHealth to reschedule their surgeries and procedures.
  • Incoming requests for elective surgeries and routine appointments will be scheduled in four to six weeks unless a patient’s condition warrants one sooner.

Dr. Henry says Essentia Health is expanding tools that help care for patients without an office visit, such as E-visits and video visits available through Essentia MyHealth.

Patients are encouraged to enroll in Essentia’s MyHealth, a secure online option that allows them to have a video visit with their care team via a computer, tablet or cell phone. Download the “MyChart” app or go to to sign up.