I’ve been in my office every day since the beginning of COVID in March, 2020.
I work in a collegial group of 4 family docs – part of a dying breed of family docs still doing in-patient care at Milton District Hospital (MDH). In March and April, the phones were pretty quiet – but we all came to work every day. As the months have marched on, we are seeing more and more patients in-person.
Because we all work at the hospital, and also at the COVID assessment Clinic at MDH, we are pretty comfortable with seeing sick patients. At the end of the summer with the school year rearing its head, we all agreed we needed a plan to see the “sick” patients in the office. But we wanted to ensure that our “healthier patients” would still feel safe as they were starting to finally come in to see us when needed.
Every day between 3-5 pm, we have our “ARI” time (Acute Respiratory Infection). Each of us takes one day per week, and sees ALL patients that need to be seen with colds/fevers/coughs. We wear full PPE, and schedule one patient per 15 minutes to allow appropriate time to clean the rooms. The other docs must all do virtual phone assessments during these hours to limit patient flow. Most patients have already had a COVID swab by the time they call the office, but rarely do we know the results yet.
We felt that a place was needed for kids with ear infections, strep throat, etc. They didn’t belong in the ER. So far we are not overwhelmed. Granted we are only seeing our own patients between the 4 docs in our clinic. Patients are extremely thankful.
We could easily start to do the COVID NP swab during this visit, but it hasn’t honestly been a need at this point. Our patients seem to be able to access our local COVID assessment clinic within 24 hours for the swab – they just need to someone to help them out with their non-COVID illnesses.
We ultimately decided to use up our PPE, see the sick patients, and see where we land when this is over.
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