COVID 19 Office Protocols
March 16, 2020
To Our Patients RE: COVID-19 / “Coronavirus” and appointments at Cal Oaks Vision Center.
As recently as early this week, our office and doctors had a perspective toward COVID-19 that “it’s just another flu” – but we have seen that change over the past few days.
Given the information from the CDC and following the actions of our governor, we feel compelled to begin to institute a more “Strict” set of standards with regard to our interactions with our patients.
Beginning on Monday March 16th and extending (for now) until April 3rd, we will follow the protocols below to reduce the potential spread of this virus and to aid in the efforts to “flatten the curve” and reduce the severity and number of individuals who might be tragically impacted [see here for more information on “flattening the curve” see link at bottom of letter
We have always had a careful hygienic protocol in our office (using disposable items whenever available, hand-disinfection with every patient, etc), but here are some precautions that go “above and beyond” our normal process – please note that some items IN BOLD may be asking YOU – our patients to do something DIFFERENT as well:
- We are asking patients who are age 60 or older to consider re-scheduling for April or later – while we are not “requiring this” – we are strongly encouraging it. [note- age 60 came from the CDC].
- We will be calling all patients the day before their appointment to confirm and will ask them if they are certain they are free of any fever, chills or other flu-like symptoms AND have not been exposed to someone with those symptoms in the past week – if they are not certain or have been experiencing these symptoms -they will be re-scheduled for at least 2 weeks later.
- We ask that patients come alone to their visits when possible. Appointments for younger patients with a need for parent/guardian will be accommodated, but we ask siblings remain home or with other parent/guardian outside the office.
- We will be asking all patients to use a hand disinfectant (we supply) at each step in their office experience.
- We will ask any patient (or person accompanying a patient) who presents with flu-like symptoms when they show up at the front to reschedule.
- We will reschedule any ‘non-critical/business-related’ outside visitors (company representatives or ‘vendors’) to April or later.
- All of our team members will STAY HOME if we feel the symptoms of the flu – aching, fever, chills or persistent cough = this may require us to RESCHEDULE patients (e.g. if a number of staff are out at the same time, or if one of the doctors is not able to come in).
- We will ask patients who come in with RED and/or WATERY-STICKY eyes to stay OUTSIDE when they arrive and notify us by phone call or text to triage and prepare staff and exam room. Since COVID “can” show up as conjunctivitis, we can’t be too careful with any presentation of red, watery, sticky eyes.
- We do not believe the typical paper or cotton masks provide any benefit – and, because we are not specifically dealing with infected individuals we want to reserve those masks for the front-line health care workers. However, if patients come in with a red sticky eye (# 8 above), we will wear the masks that we have available.
- If patients require urgent eye care and DO feel ill- the Dr. seeing them should decide if they should be seen at the Emergency Department, can be rescheduled or treated at our office as the RED eye patient (#8 above). If that occurs, that examination room will not be used the rest of the day (and of course, like always – rigorously cleaned and disinfected).
- We will enforce a NO FOOD OR DRINK of ANY kind anywhere in the office for patients – while the food isn’t the problem, eating and drinking involves “hand to-mouth” motion and may contribute to a “touch” – then “infect” scenario.
It is our hope that these days of uncertainty will draw us toward a steady, thoughtful, caring and reasoned approach to our fragile natures and our approach to the communities we live within. While it is not a time to ‘panic’ – we can play a part in reducing the severity and impact of this disease on many if we proceed wisely.
Article on “Flattening the Curve”- https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/flattening-curve-for-covid-19-what-does-it-mean-and-how-can-you-help
–California Oaks Vision Center of Optometry