With the amount of media coverage and the unprecedented hysteria caused by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak in parts of the world, I thought it important to communicate information to you regarding our protocols and to address any possible concerns you and our patients may have. The safety and security of our staff and patients is always our number one concern but reality is that we must remain calm. We must teach restraint and educate those around to minimize the mass hysteria. We must face every days adversity & potential threats rather than running away and hiding. We see and treat lots of unknowns including HIV to viruses, cancers to bacterial infections, MRSA to STDs but we minimize our risks and risk of exposures by using “universal precautions”, hand washing and sanitizing our office rooms and work stations while diagnosing and treating those who we signed up to serve.
First, it is important to realize that every year we enact protocols in the winter months to guard against a spread of the flu and other illnesses. While the news on COVID-19 is a cause for concern, over 18,000 people have died from the flu in the United States already this season and hundreds of thousands around the world. We are always on alert for the spread of the flu and other illnesses in our community, so we are prepared for precautions against similar concerns and ailments. Cooler heads must prevail and we must not panic.
It is also important to note that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended practices to minimize the spread of respiratory viruses like the flu, H1N1, Ebola, COVID-19, etc… are all the same and a little common sense:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. A quick sprinkling of water with or without soap simply isn’t enough.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. It’s located throughout our office and in most every patient room. Always wash hands with soap and water, if hands are visibly dirty, and definitely before and after you use the bathroom and as well as after eating.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose & mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue if possible.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning sprays or wipes.
- Keep children home when they are sick, especially if they present with fever (>100.5 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Children should be fever-free (without fever-reducing medication) for at least 24 hours
before returning to school.
Our office protocols include the cleaning and disinfecting of frequently shared areas such as doorknobs, exam-room countertops, patient chair handles, bathroom fixtures, desktops, etc…
As always, the health and safety of our patients and staff remain our highest priority. We will continue to follow guidance from state and federal agencies and communicate to our patients any information as it becomes necessary.