GFM is keeping you safe in the era of COVID-19

Throughout the pandemic we at Galbraith Family Medicine, LLC, (GFM) have been open and continuing to serve our patients’ needs. At the outset we were doing most of our visits via tele-health using Doxy.me, an easy-to-use, secure platform to meet with patients. We still use this tool, but we are seeing an increase in patient visits at our office as people are seeking care that had been put on hold due to the pandemic. As more people walk through our doors, GFM wanted you to know what additional safety measures we have been taking to protect our patients and staff.

SAFE SCHEDULING

  • Using tele-health for appointments that lend themselves to a visit requiring little physical examination like lab result reviews or mental health concerns in order to limit the number of people in our building at any given time.
  • Spreading out the intervals between patient appointments in the office in order to limit the number of people waiting in the waiting room.
  • Rescheduling appointments that are not urgent such as preventative health visits to a later date in order to limit the number of people coming in each day.
  • Encouraging patients who can to come to their visits alone.
  • Asking screening questions before an appointment and on arrival that may increase our suspicion of higher than average COVID-19 risk and encouraging these patients to either stay home until they feel better or ask them to wait in a special waiting area designated for patients who are ill in order to minimize any potential spread of contagion.

SAFE STAFF

  • Staff are screened each day before starting work for any symptoms suggesting illness, and temperatures are taken. Anyone with a fever or symptoms of illness is sent home to recover before returning to work. Any staff person who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 infection is asked to quarantine at home per CDC guidelines.
  • Staff are required to wear masks when they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance between themselves and patients.
  • As always, handwashing is required by staff before and after any care of a patient, after handling lab specimens, and anytime she thinks it is appropriate to do so to prevent infection. Hand sanitizer is also available in every exam room and throughout the office to encourage frequent use.

SAFE FACILITY

  • GFM has a designated waiting area with its own entrance for patients who are ill to minimize the risk of spread of infection. Our usual waiting room as one enters the front door is designated for routine appointments and those who are feeling well.
  • Chairs have been removed from our waiting rooms to allow for 6-foot distancing for patients waiting to be seen.
  • Tape markings have been laid on the floor at the receptionist window to encourage patients to maintain 6-foot distancing while waiting to check in or check out.
  • Unnecessary, frequently handled items that may increase the spread of infection such as magazines have been temporarily removed from our waiting rooms and exam rooms.
  • While our waiting room and exam rooms have always been cleaned and disinfected throughout the day, additional cleaning measures have been taken including more frequent wiping down of the waiting room; thorough and repeated disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces throughout the office like door handles, chair arms and pens; and enhancing our wipe-down and disinfecting of exam rooms between patients. Our contracted cleaning service uses EPA-registered antimicrobial products proven to kill COVID-19.
  • Hand sanitizer, face masks, and Kleenex have been placed throughout the office for easy access by patients for their use.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Alert us ahead of your visit if you develop any symptoms suggesting COVID-19 or if you have been in close contact with someone proven to have the infection.
  • We encourage you to wear a mask while at our facility if you cannot maintain 6 feet of distance between you and other people, including staff.
  • Wash your hands frequently or use provided hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a Kleenex or your elbow and then discard the Kleenex and/or wash your hands.
  • Be kind. We truly are in this together and can make it easier by helping one another.

Quick Tick Tips from Galbraith Family Medicine, LLC

  • Tick season is May through September.  Most ticks are harmless, but deer ticks (about the size of a sesame seed) are a source of worry for people because of the possibility of getting Lyme disease from them.
  • The risk for getting Lyme disease is LOW!  In Maine in 2019, there were only 2,079 cases of the disease, which means that there were only 154.7 cases of Lyme disease for every 100,000 Mainers!
  • It is extremely unlikely to get Lyme disease from a tick that has been attached to the skin for less than 48 hours.
  • If you get a tick bite…
    • Remove the tick with a pair of fine-pointed tweezers by grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and pulling steadily upward until the tick is out.  If a “part” of the tick is left behind, you can either leave it there (the body will push it out) or try to remove it as you would a splinter.  DO NOT DIG!
    • DO NOT use Vaseline, nail polish, kerosene or matches to remove a tick.
    • Clean the bite area with warm water and soap then apply a topical antibiotic.
    • Watch the area for the next month for a red rash that gets bigger in size and begins to clear in the center, looking like a “bulls-eye,” especially if you also have flu-like symptoms like fever and body aches with it.  Let your medical provider know if these occur.
  • Blood tests for Lyme disease are NOT recommended routinely because if everyone bitten by a tick were tested, most of the positive results would be in people who did not actually have Lyme disease (this is called a “false positive” result).  Testing is done in certain specific circumstances when the suspicion for Lyme disease is high based on the clinical history and physical exam.
  • Antibiotics are NOT recommended “as a precaution” because of the low risk of disease and the high risk of problems from the antibiotics themselves, especially because treating actual Lyme disease requires 14-21 days of treatment.
  • PREVENTION is everything; keep the ticks away…
    • Wear long sleeves and long pants outdoors in areas where ticks may be found. 
    • Tuck your pants into your socks.
    • Wear light colored clothing to more easily see a tick on you.
    • Use DEET or other insect repellent.
    • Inspect yourself daily for ticks and remove them promptly.