COVID-19 has changed the way we practice medicine. From online video visits to curbside care, WellMed and others have changed to make sure patients get the care they need while staying safe. While there are times when a face-to-face visit is needed, and safe to do, many are still avoiding their necessary care.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau, 40% of adults in the U.S. have put off going to the doctor for fear of catching COVID-19. I urge you not to do that. You’re avoiding COVID, but you are putting yourself in perhaps even more danger.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides clear guidelines on how primary care providers (PCP) should prep and maintain clinics to protect patients and health care workers. 2 WellMed takes these guidelines very seriously.
- Temperature checks twice daily: Before we see any patient, all staff must undergo a temperature check at the beginning of the day. Any employee with a fever is sent home. Before they leave for the day, their temperature is checked again.
- Hand sanitizer: Hand sanitizer is available throughout the clinic.
- Regular sanitizing: We sanitize common surfaces several times a day and sanitize exam rooms between every patient visit.
- Wait in your car: If you arrive early, we may ask you to wait in your car until it’s time to be seen. This limits the number of people in the clinic. If you are dropped off early, we will ask you to sit in a shaded area outside, or we will bring you inside if it’s too hot.
- Limiting visitors: We ask that you come to your appointment alone, or with only one other adult. We strongly discourage bringing young children to the clinic.
- Temperature checks at the door: All patients and visitors must have their temperature checked before they enter the clinic. Anyone with a fever may be asked to be screened for COVID-19.
- Masks are required: Masks are required by anyone entering the clinic. If you don’t have one, we’ll provide you with a disposable mask.
- Social distancing markers: Our clinics have markers that help you stay at least six feet of distance for safe interaction.
- All staff wear PPE: All clinic staff are required to wear personal protective equipment. You may notice staff wearing a mask over a mask, or a face shield over a mask. This further limits the risk of exposure.
I speak regularly with physicians from other practices and many are doing similar things. Your safety is our priority. If you need to be seen in-person by your doctor, call ahead and ask what they are doing to keep you safe.
And if you think there’s something we should do to provide even greater protection, let us know. WellMed has been around for 30 years, but we are always looking for ways to improve.
Please do not skip your necessary care, especially if you have a chronic condition such as heart disease, diabetes or respiratory illness. You could unknowingly be cutting your own life short. We take the highest precautions for our patients and we offer other ways to continue your care through online video visits and curbside care. Please take this message with care, we want to keep you safe AND healthy.
Dr. George Rapier is the founder of WellMed.
1 – www.cdc.gov/nchs/covid19/pulse/reduced-access-to-care.htm
2 – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinic-preparedness.html