Practice & Hospital Protocols to Minimize the Transmission of Coronavirus

With Coronavirus making its way around the United States, many patients have very legitimate concern about the infection prevention protocols that we, as a practice, and the hospitals at which we perform surgery, use. After all, no one wants to go in for medical care and leave with an infection. As a result, we’ve had a number of patients questioning whether they should delay their office visit or their surgery as a result of coronavirus.

Currently we are trying to minimize the number of patients who come to our office.  We have begun to use Telemedicine for follow up visits on our routine bariatric patients.

The answer is that it largely depends. If you are ill (coronavirus or not) you should call your PCP for instructions so we can determine the best course forward and then call our office to cancel or postpone surgery if needed. Elective surgeries may also be postponed if our hospitals or surgery centers require additional resources for the current Coronavirus outbreak.

For most patients, maintaining their current medical schedule is just fine. Hopefully, it is comforting to know that the incidence of coronavirus in Alabama is still relatively low (although we should all be vigilant, no matter how few cases there are).

We also want you to know that preventing the spread of infectious diseases is something we practice every day. We are also screening in our office and asking anyone with a temp over 100.4 to leave and call their PCP.  It would be a good idea if patients checked their temp before coming to our office. In fact, as medical professionals, it is one of the most important parts of our jobs. Not only do we, as individual practitioners, have protocols in place to ensure we do not contract or spread disease, so too does every facility associated with our practice. It doesn’t mean that transmission can’t happen, but we do our very best to minimize it. While we certainly are not comparing coronavirus to the flu – it is deadlier and there’s a lot we don’t know about it – it is important to remember that we deal with flu outbreaks every year. And we deal with Coronavirus in the same way as we deal with and the flu or any other contagious disease.

We also want to remind you of the part that you play in preventing the spread of this disease. Your eyes nose and mouth are the leading ways to both transmit and acquire a disease such as the coronavirus. Transmission occurs when you speak, cough or sneeze or when you touch your face and deposit the virus on surfaces around you. Therefore, if you may have been exposed to the virus or have been around someone or something that has been exposed, do not come to the office. It is important call your primary care physician or local hospital to learn more about the protocol they have for testing and treatment.

For those not experiencing symptoms, the easiest way to pick up the virus is by being around airborne droplets from those affected by coronavirus. Or by touching surfaces that may have infection on them. That’s why whenever you are going out or coming to our practice or the hospital, washing your hands often, using instant hand sanitizer with the 60% alcohol and most importantly not touching your eyes nose or mouth without clean hands can help you avoid infection and slow the spread. Together, we can all do our part to ensure that the spread of this disease is minimized and that the current health crisis doesn’t last much longer.