As cities across the U.S. shut down access into and out of downtown areas in response to protests and riots over the death of George Floyd, access to hospitals is being limited for medical staff and patients.
Health systems are limiting services, offering tips on how to clear police checkpoints and working with law enforcement to help staff and patients get to their facilities.
In Cleveland—where the National Guard is enforcing a two-day round-the-clock curfew downtown through 8 p.m. Tuesday—St. Vincent Charity Medical Center said patients are being affected by the lack of public transit and ride-sharing services available and staff members were being rerouted on their way to work.
"Lack of transportation is already a significant barrier for many of the patients we serve, and, unfortunately, a ripple effect of the lockdown has been preventing people who rely on this transportation from receiving care. We are hopeful the lockdown can be lifted tomorrow as planned," said Maureen Nagg, public information officer for St. Vincent.
Highway exits and roads are blocked off throughout downtown Cleveland, and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has rerouted all transit service around downtown.
St. Vincent has been talking with city officials since Sunday about hospital access for patients and workers, Nagg said.
"While some of our caregivers have experienced much longer commute times and had to navigate being rerouted multiple times, the majority of our staff were able to report to work," Nagg said.
At Cleveland Clinic, patients and staff members have been delayed as they travel to various system locations in the Cleveland area, not just the one hospital in the restricted zone, said Angie Kiska, a clinic spokeswoman.
"There have been some delays due to closures, but we of course completely understand. Our leadership team has been in close contact with local law enforcement officials and we have been communicating to our caregivers," Kiska said. "We have seen the same delays for patient appointments and are communicating to our patients as well."
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has restricted access to downtown and the Loop in response to the weekend's violence. As a result, the Chicago Transit Authority and Metra are not serving those areas, making access to Northwestern Memorial Hospital more difficult.
The health system encouraged patients to budget extra time for traveling to their appointments in an update to patients about street closures. Northwestern Memorial also offered visitors information on how to get through checkpoints operated by the Chicago Police Department and the Illinois National Guard.
"You will need to provide proof of your scheduled visit at checkpoints," the system said. "Please be prepared with your email confirmation or text reminder for this purpose."
In Philadelphia, Penn Medicine modified patient schedules at its downtown locations Monday over "civil unrest." Only critical services, including radiation, chemotherapy and time-sensitive procedures, were being provided.
"The safety of our patients remains Penn Medicine's No. 1 priority," the health system said in a facilities update to patients.
Between noon Saturday and midafternoon Monday, there were 429 arrests in Philadelphia, most of which related to curfew violations, failure to disburse and looting and burglary, the Philadelphia Police Department said. The city will enforce a curfew for a third day starting at 6 p.m. Monday.