May 27, 2020
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Aysha Seeni, M.D. contributes to topics such as Internal Medicine.
By Danielle Schipani
Right now, much of our everyday lives have been temporarily paused due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Schools are holding hybrid or virtual classes, celebrations and large gatherings have been postponed, and many of us are making it a priority to stay home whenever possible.
However, there is one thing that shouldn’t wait – our health. While many aspects of our lives have hit the pause button, our health and well-being require the same amount of attention they always did. There are still people managing chronic conditions, still women having babies, and as life continues so does the need for health care.
What Are Doctors’ Offices Doing Differently?
Best practices and careful considerations are being implemented at outpatient offices throughout the state. Here’s what you can expect at Hackensack Meridian Medical Group practices:
- Pre-Screening of All Patients
All patients are being pre-screened for COVID-19 at the time of making their appointment as well as the day prior to their appointment. “There is a rigorous pre-screening process in place. The pre-screening questionnaire includes symptoms of fever, chills, cough and shortness of breath as well as questions about travel and exposure to COVID-19. If the prescreening is positive, patients are advised to schedule a telehealth visit,” said Aysha Seeni, M.D., an internist at Hackensack Meridian Medical Group.
- Staggering of Appointments
As physical distancing has been implemented in every aspect of our lives, many physician practices have had to adapt and redesign waiting rooms to ensure patients can maintain 6 feet of distance between one another. “This has included staggering of appointments and many of our offices have expanded hours to avoid crowds and allow for flexible scheduling. Additionally, when possible, patients can wait in their cars instead of our waiting rooms and will be brought directly into an exam room upon their appointment time,” says Dr. Seeni. “Additionally, we are limiting patients to one guest when possible.”
- Universal Masking
All patients, employees, and visitors are required to wear a face mask or face covering in accordance with CDC recommendations. This step is being taken to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. If a patient arrives without a face covering, a mask will be provided upon entry.
- Temperature Screenings
Every day the temperatures of all staff, patients and visitors are taken prior to entering all facilities. If a fever is detected, the temperature of the patient is rechecked for accuracy in 10 to 15 minutes. “If the fever is confirmed and the patient is here for a non-urgent appointment they are rescheduled with a telehealth appointment,” says Dr. Seeni. “If the appointment is urgent or the provider needs to see the patient in-person, the practice follows isolation protocol. The patient is then escorted by staff to a private single room for evaluation.”
- Rigorous Cleaning protocols Based on CDC Guidelines
Facilities are following cleaning protocols based on CDC guidelines that include rigorous cleaning and disinfecting of our entire environment of care, concentrating on frequently touched surfaces and exam rooms multiple times each day.
- Increased Use of Telemedicine
Telemedicine is available at many practice locations and is a great way to access the care you need from the comfort of your home. Virtual video visits are available with primary care providers as well as specialists to manage and maintain chronic conditions while staying home. However, telemedicine is not appropriate for all appointment types. Ask your provider if telemedicine would be medically appropriate for you.
- Online MyChart Access to Care
We encourage patients to use MyChart for online access to appointments, lab and test results, prescription renewals and easy secure messaging to providers. If you don’t have a MyChart account, your physician’s office can send you an activation code. Online scheduling and virtual visits are available for many physicians. “A patient portal is essential for patients to stay on top of their health care needs. Every day, upgrades are being made to enhance the features and benefits of MyChart, and the first step is to have patients establish their MyChart accounts,” says Dr. Seeni.
While communities work together to develop a new normal, it’s important to remember that care doesn’t have to be delayed. Physician practices are open and are available to care for your health and wellness. “This is a time when wellness has never been more critical to maintain, and your doctor is here to help you access the care you need,” says Dr. Seeni.
Next Steps & Resources:
- Don’t Resist Going to the Emergency Room: Here’s Why
- How to Manage Anxiety around Coronavirus
- Dr. Seeni is currently practicing at Hackensack Meridian Medical Group – Pulmonology and Internal Medicine – Monroe and accepting new patients. To make an appointment, please call 800-822-8905.
- Visit HMHMedicalGroup.org to find a practice near you.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.