Vaccines have improved things a lot, but the COVID-19 virus is changing, and there are still a number of things we all need to do. The doctors continue to evaluate emerging information to answer your questions. 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 virtually. 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 wants you to know what additional safety measures we have been taking to protect our patients and staff.
- 1. 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.
- 2. Conveying to patients ahead of their visit to call to reschedule an appointment if they have developed COVID-like symptoms and need to quarantine or if they have had a significant exposure to COVID.
- 3. Asking screening questions ahead of an acute appointment 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.
- 4. As the need arises, asking patients to wait in their car until we are ready to room them to avoid close contact in a sometimes busier than expected waiting room.
- 1. Staff self-screen each day before starting work for any symptoms suggesting illness. Anyone with a fever or symptoms of illness that could be COVID-19 is sent home to recover before returning to work.
- 2. Staff are required to wear masks when they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance between themselves and patients.
- 3. 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.
- 1. 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.
- 2. 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.
- 3. 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.
- 4. 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.
- 5. Hand sanitizer, face masks, and Kleenex have been placed throughout the office for easy access by patients for their use.
SAFE RETURN TO NORMAL VISITS
- 1. As more people get vaccinated we are looking at how we can continue to return to normal visits safely. With this in mind we are following CDC guidelines that allow for fully vaccinated individuals to visit in close proximity without masks. A fully vaccinated individual is defined as someone who has had all necessary initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine for 14 days or more. You do not need to have had a booster to be considered fully vaccinated. Because the physicians have been fully vaccinated, you may choose, ONCE YOU ARE IN YOUR EXAM ROOM, to remove your mask for your visit with the provider. We still ask that masks be worn in public areas like the waiting room and hallways.
- 2. We are asking all our patients to provide a copy of their COVID-19 immunization card for their medical record.
- 3. We continue to monitor closely the current situation and make adjustments as needed to keep all patients and staff safe while we emerge from this challenging pandemic.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- 1. 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.
- 2. We encourage you to wear a mask in public areas of our facility especially if you cannot maintain 6 feet of distance between you and other people, including staff.
- 3. Wash your hands frequently or use provided hand sanitizer.
- 4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a Kleenex or your elbow and then discard the Kleenex and wash your hands.
- 5. Provide us a copy of your completed COVID-19 immunization card for your medical record.
- 6. Be kind. We truly are in this together and can make it easier by helping one another.