Ok, anyone tired of hearing about this topic yet? I know I am. But here goes with hopefully some good information that I have gleaned from CDC and other sources.
Risk: Currently thought to be low but the infection rate is climbing and has not hit the peak just yet. This virus is highly contagious and is transmitted by droplets in the air and touching. The way to cut off the impact is to self quarantine if exposed to a known sick patient or if there are symptoms of the cold or flu like illness. Obvious travel abroad is also a risk factor. In the S. Korean data, no one under 50 years of age died while older patients with multiple medical problems were at the highest risk of death. Physicians and especially ophthalmologists are at high risk as we have to get close to the patient in order to do our exams and treatments. Remember the first fatality in China was the ophthalmologist that blew the whistle on this issue. If we get sick then we will have to shut down the clinic for weeks or months before the all clear is given.
What are we doing in our clinic?
1: The appointment reminder calls are done by staff that ask the questions: Have you traveled recently? Are you sick with cold or flu like symptoms? Have you had family members with the virus? We rescheduling positive responses for at least 2 weeks.
2: Contacted the office cleaning service to go over the methods and areas that they clean to make sure a thorough cleaning is done.
3: Wear surgical masks for all close work with the patient. We wear masks for injection anyway so the patients are used to seeing be with a cap and mask on most of the time. We do not use the “N95” masks unless you are dealing with a known case of Corona Virus.
4: No hugs or shaking hands, use the “bump the elbows” for a greeting unless you know how to tap dance and can do the toe tapping greeting that is sweeping the internet. I personally would probably fall flat if I tried to do that!
5: More hand sanitizer available in the clinic. Washing hands in front of the patient so they see you do it.
6: Keeping the waiting room with a minimal population by being as efficient as possible to get the patient in and out of the clinic.
7: Educating the patients about shaking hands and not touching their face, etc. My personal preference is the “Namaste” greeting and “no touch” rather than the “elbow bump” (we are meant to cough into the elbow, right?!)
I have found some common sense articles on the effectiveness of regular soap and water vs bleach at National Geographic web page (for free while the crisis is active). They stated that bleach is not necessary and may not be as effective as soap and water. 70% rubbing alcohol is needed to kill the virus so check the alcohol content of hand sanitizers.
There are probably many other things that can be done but this is a start. Would like to hear what others have done in their clinics, Please leave a comment below.