…but now it’s just a little different. I’ll repeat, we have always had our trusted patients’ interests as our top priority. During these times of COVID-19 it was even more important for us to continue that standard. We reopened four months ago on May 18th since closing the office for two months and we set some protocols in place. While we have received mostly positive feedback on these steps it’s easy to 1.) get complacent and retract from what has now become our new “norm,” and 2.) have some patients not fully understand that these steps are in place for their safety first and then ours. I’ll address them here:
Masks went from being highly controversial, to accepted but mostly misunderstood. Facial coverings, cloth, surgical masks or respirator masks are not all created equal. While any type of facial covering is better than nothing the only mask that has been shown to have the most effectiveness is the N95 respirator that you will see our team wearing when they are face to face in direct patient care. The N95 (without a valve) has been shown to filter out 95% of particulate matter both inbound and outbound. What that means is that an N95 protects both the person wearing and the others in front of them. Again, any facial covering is better than nothing but cloth and surgical grade masks only protect others, not the wearer. This is why we ask you to wear a mask and often times provide a new, sealed, complementary surgical mask at our office—to help protect others that are not wearing N95 respirators like us.
When we reopened, you can imagine we had quite a back-log of patients. Closing for two solid months will do that. We still are trying to catch up. However, we are approaching this cautiously as well. We have reserved the first slot of the day for our elderly patients. I have two slots reserved throughout each day for emergencies/urgent matters and, if needed, a procedure. We still continue to maintain social distancing and we are doing that by limiting the number of people in the building at one time. By doing this it has only allowed me to see approximately one patient per hour. Would I like to see more patients, absolutely, but I also am convinced we need to keep our office safe so we sanitize each room after each exam. This is again for your safety first.
This has really revolutionized how I practice. We are now taking a case history, intake, “interview,” prior to you coming. This minimizes the time you spend in the office (as referenced above) but it also has allowed me to better understand your concerns before you come in the office. These phone interviews are conducted and recorded and I listen to them prior to you coming in. This allows you easier access to medications, contact lens parameters, etc. that you may not bring with you to your visit and they are documented in your chart to help streamline the visit. We also send out a COVID-19 acknowledgment that we ask all our patients to complete and sign 24 hours prior to their visit. Basically, this is a screening that asks you to acknowledge whether you’ve been in contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive, have had symptoms of COVID-19 or traveled to an area that is considered a “hot spot” for COVID-19. We are doing this to keep everyone safe—but mainly you.
I hate scrubs. I loathe them, mainly because I believe they often times look sloppy and are worn incorrectly. Scrubs were designed to be worn in a “clean” environment (operating rooms, hospitals, etc.) where they could be worn, removed and laundered (if necessary) when they were soiled. They weren’t meant to be worn for comfort, style or uniformity. We prefer business casual but not during the pandemic. We wear regular clothes to the office, arrive earlier than normal to change into our scrubs and then change back into the clothes we came to work in at the end of the day. Our shoes are even left here. We are still putting you first by minimizing any opportunity of bringing something from home or anywhere we might stop on the way to the office.
All this to say, I have always been about customer service, taking care of the customer first. I do not plan on letting up. Although this COVID-19 pandemic has some extra hoops to jump through, they are all focused around and for you our trusted patients. Thank you for understanding and thank you for your patience. I really appreciate how my team has embraced these changes and followed them so strictly. I appreciate your trust and everyone that has verbally expressed their gratitude for our safeguards and protocols. We’ll get through this soon….together….