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Dealing With a Surge of Patients During the Pandemic

Has Covid- 19 changed your life significantly? 

On the 21st of January 2020, a 30 year old man from Washington state who traveled from Wuhan, China was diagnosed with the Covid- 19 virus. 

Fast track to the 30th of January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared for the 6th time in history, a public health emergency of international concern, which means that it is a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and that it is serious, unusual or unexpected and carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s national border; and may require immediate international action.

In just a matter of months, the coronavirus has changed people’s lives in ways we never would have imagined in the start of the year.

For people who can continue to work at home, technology has been a blessing since everything has become easier with the advent of the internet and all wireless gadgets that we now have. 

For people seeing patients or clients in their workplace, change is inevitable. Masks, face shields, acrylic separators are a common sight

Seeing patients in the clinic have been significantly changed as we adhere to safety protocols to protect ourselves, our employees and the patients. 

How are people dealing with it?

A lot of doctors have come up with ways to make sure that patients and staff are well protected and the services they provide continues especially in this pandemic. 

Dr. Sarah Bennet from Natural Med Doc deals with appointments through virtual consults especially for patients who come in for follow ups. This ensures that the risk for getting the infection is reduced and at the same time, the patients can have the luxury of getting their consults done at home. 

A lot of her patients have been giving positive reviews about getting appointments done virtually. For her patients who need laboratories, they have shortened waiting time or have patients wait in their car to ensure that there will be less exposure.

If you are a doctor, health care practitioner or someone who runs a clinic or office that caters to patients or clients in this pandemic, dealing with appointments can be overwhelming but that does not mean that you need to shut down your business because of the risk.  

Like Dr. Bennet and thousands of doctors across the world, dealing with appointments in this pandemic is doable. Here are a few tips that I have gathered in my experience as an ER physician and from my fellow doctors who see patients in their clinics:

  1. Telemedicine or Online Consultation

This is the time to do telemedicine for patients or clients who do not need to come to the clinic or office. A plethora of patients have had positive feedback with telemedicine because it allows them to see their doctor without leaving home. You can now get prescription refills online as well as diagnostics, inter alia.

Telemedicine is most especially valuable for patients or clients who are high risk and may benefit from staying at home rather than going to your clinic or office. 

  1. Communicate with patients or clients

Communication is very important especially now that the number of people getting infected are increasing. If you are doing consultations or appointments through telemedicine, make sure that you have explained everything thoroughly. Make use of other means of communications like e-mail, texts or calls. Do not rush your consults, let your patients ask questions and give them an email or number they can message. 

Your clients or patients will appreciate that you keep in touch every once in a while.

  1. Make sure your staff is safe

Ensure your staff’s safety by providing them with the appropriate things needed like masks, face shields and hand wipes. Provide your place with an area where the staff, patients or clients can wash hands. Have a daily log of symptoms that your employees may have and provide adequate sick leaves if they get sick to guarantee that the infection will not come from your workplace. Appropriate swabbing may be done if needed. Infection in the workplace is high, provide areas where they can eat individually and have them report if anybody in their home is sick or has undergone swabbing or quarantine. 

  1. Set ground rules

If there will be patients coming in, make sure that your company or clinic’s ground rules are followed. Let patients or clients and staff wear masks all the time, have them disinfect their hands with alcohol before coming in, check the temperature of people coming in the office or clinic and set areas where they can wait. A 1- meter physical distancing is safe to practice to ensure that people don’t infect each other. 

If there are high risk clients or patients, have them wait in the car and send them a message once it’s their turn, this way, they do not mix with other patients.

  1. Ask patients to call ahead of time

Accepting walk-in clients may be difficult. To avoid overcrowding in your area, use a scheduling software and have patients or clients call in for an appointment ahead of time and give them the specific time frame where they can come to your office. This will give you the rough estimate of how many people you can accommodate in your waiting area. 

  1. Sanitize 

Have your staff take turns in sanitizing your workspace every day. Clean areas where hands may frequently touch like doorknobs, pens or keyboards. Installing an exhaust fan may be beneficial to ensure that air circulates in and out of the room especially for air conditioned ones. Having your office professionally cleaned by companies that offer decontamination or sanitation may go a long way.

Conclusion

These are just some tips on dealing with the surge of appointments during this pandemic. There are a lot more that we can take depending on the nature of your business and the number of people coming in.

A lot of offices have invested in air purifiers, UV lights and so much more to ensure the safety of their staff and clients. Just be wary of what works and what are just fads.

Do you have any more ideas that may help businesses in these times? Let us know in the comments below!

This is guest posting by Dr. Tee Villanueva | MD 

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