When it is time to reopen your clinic after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to start with a plan. Planning is crucial for reopening success. Get a calendar and make a note of your expected reopening day. Assess your PPE needs and place any necessary orders. Create a blueprint concerning how you will handle staffing and cleaning if a patient or visitor contracts COVID-19 after being in your clinic. Build guidelines for how long employees will be out of the office after interaction with a patient diagnosed with COVID-19.
Open the Clinic Incrementally
Opening your clinic in small steps will give you the chance to address any challenges that may be present. Keep your administrative staff who do not need to be physically present at home working remotely. Start slow, bringing in only a few patients per day on a modified schedule. If you have visits that are possible via telehealth, continue doing them remotely. Bring back your employees in phases or on alternating days.
Keep Patients Safe
Use a modified schedule to avoid high patient volumes and to prevent close contact among patients. Consider using separate waiting areas for sick and well patients. Try to put a limit on patient companions allowing only those individuals whose participation in the visit is necessary. Use a flexible schedule that allows extra time between visits to avoid backups.
Ensure that staff is aware of personal health requirements, such as not reporting to work if they are ill or if they have been in contact with anyone with symptoms of COVID-19. Screen all employees for high temperatures and other signs of COVID-19. Minimize contact by rearranging work areas to increase distance. Dedicated workstations and patient rooms can help to minimize the number of people touching the same equipment. A tele-triage system can help to ensure that patients seeking appointments are properly directed depending on their condition and symptoms.
Screen Patients Before Office Visits
Your practice needs to verify if a patient has the symptoms of COVID-19 before their presence in your office. Any visit that is eligible for tele-health should be. For in-office appointments, your administrative staff should contact patients before their office visit to review the office protocol and screen the patients for COVID-19 symptoms. Construct a script for your administrative staff to use during these calls. Once patients arrive at the office, they must receive a COVID-19 screening.
There will be times when your patients need COVID-19 testing. Contact testing sites in your area and ensure that tests are available. Be ready to provide clear and up to date information to your patients as to where they can receive a test and how the testing process works.
Post your policy on individuals who are not patients, such as vendors, educators and service providers. Attempt to reroute these people to communication methods such as phone calls or videoconferences. If a vendor must physically enter the practice, try to schedule them outside of regular office hours to minimize interactions with patients, clinicians and staff.
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