In February, WHO declared the world to be in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then we have all been experiencing extremely challenging times. Coronavirus has completely changed life as we know it and forced us to lock ourselves in our houses. In these times, all doctors and other medical professionals have proven to be the superheroes by fighting the pandemic at the frontlines. As such the doctors have not been available for anything other than the essential ailments. Patients on the other hand have been unable to step out and get the treatments owing to the lockdown. Even in these testing times, the Doctors have tried their best to adapt and help their patients using ever growing technology, trying to connect and treat as many patients as they can via Zoom video conference. However, it could never be as effective as a physical consultation. But now, thanks to the markets reopening and the governments lifting most restrictions, you don’t have to wait to see your doctors in person, at the clinic.
This month, clinics are on their way to welcome their patients back and resume routine. However, it will be well to remember that things would still be far from normal. The atmosphere at the clinics would be a lot different than it used to be before lockdown. All the clinics will have to follow government rules and regulations for COVID-19 strictly. Clinics will do their best to sanitise, maintain distance where possible and take extra precautions for health and safety for all. But it’s imperative that you also contribute to make the environment safe. Preventing the virus is necessary for all individuals. In this pandemic situation, one should always be cautious while travelling on public transport. While going to hospitals or visiting a doctor at his/her clinic, one should avoid travelling on public transport and use private vehicle if possible. Public transport can lead to increase in spread of this infectious disease – as there are millions of people taking public trains and local buses everyday, the infection can spread really fast. So, Private Transport is highly recommended as an extra precaution.
How would clinics look like after reopening?
Face mask would be mandatory
Wearing a face mask is very important whether it is a clinic or some other place. When someone talks, coughs, sneezes there are chances that germs release in the air and other people nearby can get infected. So, face masks help to prevent the spread of pathogens and airborne germs. If you are seen without a face mask, clinics may ask you to wear one so as to ensure safety of all.
When you arrive at the clinic, the first thing that will be done is thermal screening. High body temperature is one of the earliest coronavirus symptoms. A temperature check of the patient is necessary to confirm that the patient is not infected by such a virus. High body temperature may indicate the presence of an illness even if it’s just a regular flu. After the thermal screening, the patient will be asked to wear hand gloves and face mask to take extra precautions.
Personal Protective Equipments
Personal Protective equipment can include shoe covers, hand gloves, head covers, gowns, aprons, eye protection, face masks, respirators, goggles, and face shield. When you are asked to go to the treatment room, you will see doctors and nurses wearing PPE kits keeping their full bodies covered. Doctors and Surgeons are encouraged to use full gowns rather than wearing aprons during the treatment of the patient. Especially when aerosol-generating procedures performed on patients, facial protection is must to be worn.
Before you might have seen patients at the clinics sitting close to each other, but now, you will have to maintain social distancing and the distance should be at least 2 meters. Clinics are working hard to maintain social distancing and avoid the spread of the infectious virus. Doctors have reduced patients’ appointments per day so that social distancing can be easily maintained. Patients are pleased to attend the doctor’s meeting on time so that other patients don’t have to wait for their appointment, and social distancing can be maintained. At some clinics, they may have the marking on the floor to stand and sustain social distancing. According to the new guidelines from the United Kingdom government on Social Distancing, people should not gather outside in the group of more than six people. They will have to follow the guidelines of social distancing.
Possibly a COVID Test before surgery
Prior to any kind of surgery, be it major or minor, clinics will have to COVID test the patient. The results if this test are usually expected to be available within 48 hours. If the reports are healthy, then it’s a green signal for doctors to continue with the surgery. Surgery without COVID-19 test will be banned. Doctors are supposed to know the patient’s condition before performing any operation. If you have the symptoms of cough and fever or you are in an environment where your family member is or could be infected by coronavirus, you will ne asked to stay home for 14 days and not come to the clinic until you and/or your relative are symptom-free or until you have a report of negative COVID-19 test.
Pre-Appointments are necessary to plan a visit to the doctor. Walk-ins may not be allowed. Approach your chosen clinic well in advance to get an appointment with and the doctor. It will be easier if you have a flexible schedule because most doctors will be super busy! Most clinics will have the facility of booking an appointment on call or via email before visiting the clinic. With the confirmation of the appointment, you’re supposed to reach the clinic on time so that social distancing can be maintained. Moreover, you should visit them alone and not bring anyone with you to the clinic, so as to avoid over crowding and help prevent the spread.
One should always be prepared for any situation. Especially in the post lockdown period, you may experience delays at the clinic, no matter how minor or major the treatment. It could be because if lengthier consultations or elaborate pre testing. The patients who are there before you may have extra questions or concerns as they also are meeting their doctor after a prolonged time. So, carrying some water and other lite refreshments is highly recommended. Moreover, patients would be discouraged from using the restrooms when visiting the doctors because these can be the infection hubs. So, be prepared and plan your visit bearing all of these considerations in your mind.
Now you have a fair idea of what all you should plan for before visiting a doctor and what precautions you will have to take. Let’s summarise the essential points: Wearing a Face mask is necessary;You will be thermally screened and might be asked to wear PPE equipment while visiting a doctor; You have to maintain Social Distancing at Clinic; it’s quite likely that a COVID-19 test is required before surgery; Pre-Appointment is needed; Prepare for some delays at the clinic; and lastly, Private Transport should be preferred.
Taking precautions against COVID-19 is extremely important – wash hands regularly with soap or use sanitiser; avoid touching your face unnecessarily; see a doctor if you have symptoms; avoid unnecessary travels.
Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.