By Robert A. Poarch
Masks. Social distancing. Elbow bumps. Hand sanitizer. This is our new normal. So, when it comes to seeing your doctor, you should know that there are precautions in place to make sure you’re coming into a safe environment for your care and our staff. And, that starts even before you enter the building with “curbside check-in.” Check out these reasons why it matters:
1) Limited contact from the moment you arrive
You will receive a text message one hour before your appointment time. “When you arrive in the facility parking lot, you click a link in the text that alerts us that you’re here for your appointment,” said Michelle Sexton, practice manager at Asheville Family Medicine. “After we acknowledge that you’re here, you can proceed into the lobby.”
2) Patient screening
All patients are screened after they come through the door. If they have a fever, coughs, shortness of breath, for example, they are sent back to their car. “If they have those symptoms, we don’t let them proceed back to the exam rooms to see the provider,” said Sexton. “We typically convert them to a video or phone visit, so they can be seen by the provider.”
3) Less time in the waiting room
The most effective way to practice social distancing in the waiting room is to spend less time there. “The ultimate goal is to shorten, or even eliminate, the patient’s time in the waiting room,” said Sexton. “Sometimes, we’re right on the money, and you walk in and register and they don’t even have a chance to sit down. That’s the ideal situation.”
4) No sign up required
“You don’t have to sign up,” said Sexton. “It’s automatic.” If you’ve been to the practice before and have received appointment reminders in the past, there’s nothing for you to do. Your practice has the correct information in your patient profile, and you’re all set. If you’re not receiving these reminders, contact the practice and have them update your profile with your preferred contact information.
Currently, Mission Health is on level 3 restriction, so we’re only letting the patient back. “However, there are exceptions for those who suffer dementia, children, have hearing problems, for example. But, the standard is no visitors,” said Sexton. Contact your provider’s office for details.
Michelle Sexton is practice manager at Asheville Family Medicine.