During the pandemic, most of us are told to stay at home. We are not to go to malls, restaurants, cafes or anywhere crowded. One of the places we are in dilemma of entering: health facilities such as clinics and hospitals. It is the first place that COVID-19 patients visit and where they stay. At the same time, it is also the first place we go to when we are feeling ill. Don’t worry, as long as you take precautions before entering these trusted health facilities then you will be safe from any chances of catching the virus.
Before Going to The Health Facility
The preparation for entering the health facility begins even before we step inside it. Contact the health facility that you wish to visit, in case they have procedures that you need to follow.
Several procedures you need to be making sure of include:
- Requirements regarding mask wearing by staff and visitors
- Cleaning protocols and sanitizing measures for exam rooms, waiting areas, restrooms, elevators and other frequently touched surfaces
- Social distancing practices at check-in, in waiting areas and in exam rooms
- Limits on the number of people who can be in the clinic at the same time
- Screening questions and temperature checks for staff and visitors at all entrances
- Special measures, spatial isolation or instructions for people who have or may have COVID-19
- How doctors and other staff are using personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Video (telemedicine) appointment options
- The number of people they allow to enter the clinic at one time
Before the day of your appointment, you may get a call from people at the health facility asking if you have symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you do have these symptoms, you may be given specific instructions.
Other than that, clinic staff may tell you to bring and wear a mask. Some clinics may also ask that you bring only one person with you to your appointment.
At the Health Facility
While at the clinic, remember to follow these standard precautions when you’re at the clinic such as:
- Wear a cloth face mask. Most clinics require that people wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you don’t have one, your clinic may be able to provide you with one.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol before or after touching any surfaces in public areas, such as in the waiting area.
- Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow, and throw away the tissue. When wearing a mask, cough or sneeze into the mask.
- While making payments, use digital payment methods as much as possible. If you are going for cash or a card, do not forget to sanitise your hands properly after paying.
- Avoid touching your face, nose or mouth. Besides, also try to stay away from the commonly touched surfaces or shared items.
Minimize Contact in the Pharmacy
After consulting with the doctor, you need to pick up medicine at the pharmacy. Some tips you could follow include maintaining your distance with others, avoid coming in contact with others as much as you can and getting a larger supply of your drugs so you don’t frequent the pharmacist for your supply of drugs.
Avoid Contact with Frequently Touched Surfaces
Besides avoiding contact with other patients in the health facility, you should also avoid surfaces that are frequently touched. These surfaces may have the virus on it without you knowing it, so avoid doorknobs, elevator buttons and touchpads. While they’re cleaned regularly, there’s still the chance they have germs on them. Bring gloves or use a tissue to open doors and press elevator buttons. However, if you have touched a touchpad or a commonly used surface, wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer afterward.
Use Touchless Payment Options
Rather than risk the transferring of the virus on your hands during payment, use touchless payment options such as mobile payment system. If that is not possible, then feel free to use credit cards, cash or checks provided that you use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. As soon as you reach home, avoid touching anything and wash your hands well with soap and water.
Use Telemedicine for Appointments
Or else if you really want to avoid going to a health facility, then consider telemedicine. Ask your doctor if they are available for telemedicine appointment options, such as a video consultation. It can be an effective way for you to follow-up with your doctor from home. Otherwise, you also may be able to have a phone consult with your doctor. Ask your doctor if you can send secure messages or emails with questions.
Plan Ahead for Prescriptions
Consider delivery of medicine if you have a new prescription or need to refill existing ones. Ask if delivery is an option or whether the pharmacy has drive-through or curbside pickup options. Don’t forget to check with your doctor about getting larger supplies of your prescriptions so that your medicine supply lasts longer and you would not require pharmacy visits. If you need to get a prescription locally, call ahead or order online.
Which tip do you think is the most useful? Tell us in the comments section below.