The Coronavirus (nCoV) is a “novel” virus which means it is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. It also means it has the ability to evolve and change. Because of this fact, it’s critical that our response with regards to safety and controlling the spread also continue to evolve and change.
It is a physician’s duty to minimize any and all spread of viruses or contagions of any kind to patients or clinic staff. We take this role seriously and have been staying nimble and refining our staff safety protocol in response to the evolving status of the COVID-19 spread.
TIMELINE OF OUR SAFETY RESPONSE
FIRST MAJOR OUTBREAK IN SEATTLE
The first major outbreak occurs just north of us in Seattle elderly care home. Twenty-two deaths trigger the start of what becomes a rapid spread across coastal major port cities.
Clark County was still seeming under control, so we upheld our safety precautions while waiting and watching continued.
US CASES EXCEED THOSE OF ANY OTHER COUNTRY
By March the US has more cases than any other country. with New York city carrying the brunt of cases. States and Cities begin to enforce closures of businesses and schools.
Eventually, Clark County rates started rising, so Delta Direct Care implemented contact precautions, wiping all surfaces down several times a day, including after every patient. We sanitized our pens and door handles. All clinicians wore masks and we took temperate checks and logged all patients.
MAJOR CITY SPREAD
By the end of July, New York City had 22,934 deaths to date and now Major cities across the US and Midwest were seeing mass outbreaks. Contact tracing, masks, and stay at home orders were still strongly recommended.
At Delta Direct Care we continue our already established Video and telemedicine services, but still saw patients in the office, requiring temperature checks, contact tracing logging, and masks for patients and staff.
SO HERE WE ARE…
With approximately 6.13m cases and 185,000 deaths in the U.S., the waiting and watching to develop a safety response is over. Many physicians, including myself, are pretty convinced this pandemic will be with us all winter. It is time to prepare and take an offensive strategy for the coming crisis.
Delta Direct has been offering nasal tests since they were first available. As antibody tests were made available we jumped on that and began offering them to our patients as well.
The accuracy rates of the Rapid COVID-19 test were inconsistent and didn’t deem high enough quality initially, So we waited until the industry standard of care for this test was established to order our own testing unit for in-house rapid testing.
Our CURRENT COVID-19 Safety Protocol for Patients and Staff
1. MASKS REQUIRED:
Every patient who comes into the clinic is expected to wear a mask. We have masks available if you need one.
2. NO WALK OR DROP-IN APPOINTMENTS:
Although we are very flexible and accommodating on short notice, we prefer that you not drop into the clinic without calling first. We prefer to keep physical distance between patients when more than one at a time is in the clinic.
3. TEMPERATURE CHECKS:
When you arrive, even if it just to pick up medications, have a blood test, or drop something off, expect your temperature to be taken at the door with a touchless IR scanner.
4. TELEMEDICINE APPOINTMENTS ONLY FOR RESPIRATORY ISSUES:
If you have a respiratory infection, we will evaluate you by telemedicine.
5. SIMULTANEOUS FLU AND COVID TESTING:
Influenza and COVID testing will be done simultaneously during the flu season. We will perform this testing at curbside, not inside the clinic.
6. TELEMEDICINE & VIDEO PREFERRED:
We have been doing telemedicine since we opened, so if it as at all possible to evaluate and treat you without bringing you in physically, we will try to do that, as long as we feel it is a sufficient evaluation.
7. EXHAUSTIVE POST-VISIT SANITIZATION PROTOCOLS:
People with urgent or non-urgent problems who need to be physically seen can rest assured that we sanitize every surface contacted by the patient after every visit. We have ample supplies of sanitizer and masks to get through the winter. We have done everything possible to make sure it is safe for patients needing to be seen in our context.
We expect to have rapid COVID tests available in the fall. An announcement will follow, once the machine has been received and all our staff trained in using it. Until then please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions about the best way to be seen, treated, or supported during this time. It takes a healthy community to endure the ups and downs of mother nature’s wrath.