Most national, state, and local authorities are starting to issue guidelines for practices returning to “routine care” and to resume normal hours. With some exceptions there seems to be some common themes:
• Limit patient flow – reduce schedule, by appointment only, urgent first
• Screen patients appropriately – no flu/cold symptoms, fever, loss of taste/smell, results of any testing, and recent travel
• Limit people on visit – interpreters and caregivers only please
• Eye care team use of PPE – face masks and gloves if they are disposed of after each use
• Wash hands frequently – provide soap and water as well as hand sanitizer
• Remind people of safe distancing
• Disinfect surfaces frequently
• Remove materials like toys, books, and magazines from public areas
• Keep “clean” pens by having a “used” pens cup where pens are cleaned after each use
• Wipe all instruments after each use especially clipboards, chin rests, occluders, pupillometers, etc.
• Deploy shields and screens when available and clean frequently
• Do not allow patients to “browse” in the frame areas and try on frames without being properly sanitized
• Employee statements signed and followed regarding their guidelines
• Temperature readings of team members and in many cases, all visitors to the office
• Signs on doors and entries asking people to keep a safe distance, not visit if they have symptoms, and disclose the results of COVID-19 tests
• In some cases limit the number of patients at one time to no more than the number of staff on hand at that time – 1:1 ratio or less
Under these guidelines, most practices are preferring a “soft opening” approach and instead of publicly announcing a return to routine, are dealing with the current backlog first.
Once the backlog is under control and procedures are down pat, then a return to automated patient communications, recall, and advertising is warranted.