Doctor Visits During Covid-19
How it used to be, how it is now, and what you have to do
Under normal circumstances, and in recent history, we walked into a doctor or dental office waiting room and simply checked in. There was typically a request for updated insurance information, and then we waited for our appointment. The waiting rooms had numerous chairs closely spaced together, and often there might be a dozen or more people waiting for their appointments. If we were lucky, there were plenty of good magazines to browse.
Fast forward to the present doctor office visit, in the age Covid-19.
My wife and I have recently had doctor and dental appointments that had been rescheduled for months. They are happening now, and to say the least, they are surreal.
When you walk in the door, you are greeted by a person in a mask who takes your temperature and asks several questions. I should add that everyone is required to wear masks. The questions included the following: Do you have a headache? Have you had a cough? Have you had a fever? Have you traveled recently? Have you been exposed to anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19?
After answering the questions, I was given a number and sent to my doctor’s office down the building corridor.
Entering the waiting room is a new experience. Chairs are few and socially distanced. In some offices, there are taped ’X’s on certain chairs, or signs stating that they are NOT to be sat in. There are markings on the floor making sure that you are staying at least six feet apart. The doctors and all staff are masked. Pens are wiped before and after use for filling out forms. And, there are definitely no magazines to read.
In some situations the doctor or dentist will require that you call in from the parking lot when you arrive, and then you will be called inside when it is time for you to enter the office for your scheduled appointment. Staffs are working on rotating scheduling appointments certain days of the week, in order to have work spaces separated as much as possible. This is the new reality, and we have to get used to it.
The Mayo Clinic recently posted an article How to safely go to your doctor during the Covid-19 pandemic. In it, they cite several logical recommendations before and during your medical visit.
Do your homework
Before you make an appointment, call the clinic or check its website to find out what's being done to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the clinic
Take all necessary precautions including wearing a mask, washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at lease 60% alcohol after touching any surfaces. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow, and throw away the tissue. Wear gloves or use a tissue when touching elevator buttons, a touchpad or door handle.
Keep your distance
Try to keep about 6 feet (2 meters) away from others while at the clinic. If an area looks too crowded, move to another area.
Use touchless payment options
Opt for touchless payment if possible, such as a mobile payment system. If that is not an option, use a credit card and then use hand sanitizer to wipe the card.
Ask your doctor if telemedicine is an option for your appointment. Also ask if you can send secure messages or emails with questions.
Plan ahead for prescriptions
If you have a new prescription or need to refill existing ones, consider mail order. Ask your doctor if you can get larger supplies that will require fewer refills. Also ask if delivery is an option or whether the pharmacy has a drive-through or curbside pickup.
People are scared, as they should be! Covid-19 is serious and should not be minimized - and it should not be a political issue. In many situations, it is a matter of life and death. I just heard a Covid-19 survivor say that it was like a tornado had ripped through his body. Months later he is still coughing and feeling weak.
I am sure that everyone who has had a recent medical or dental appointment have had similar experiences, similar to ours.
In conclusion, I want to emphasize the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing, wearing gloves in stores and other settings, and staying safe. There is so much at stake not to be careful. We cannot relax our guard. Whether your are gracefully greying or much younger, we are all at risk.
Maybe you have an additional tip, or words of wisdom as you visit your doctor. If so, please share your experiences with us.
Henry Gornbein, Co-founder, Gracefully Greying
Photo courtesy Mayo Clinic