COVID-19 WORKPLACE SAFTEY UPDATE

August 17, 2020

To My Patients,

I am pleased to announce that my office is now open. My office schedule is the same as it was before the coronavirus required me to close in March: Mondays through Thursdays 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

At this point I am seeing patients only at my home office because the office at the Merrimack Medical Center in the Physical Therapy Department closed in June. I am currently looking for space that is handicap accessible in order to assure that people with mobility issues can easily come to the office.

The other change in my practice is that I am scheduling patients 30 minutes apart to allow me time to sanitize the office according the CDC recommendations. You can find these recommendations at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html.

You are required to wear a face mask at all times in the office including during the treatment. You may unhook the ear loops if you are laying face-down on the treatment table with your face in the face cradle as the mask will stay in place covering your nose and mouth.

I will be taking your temperature on your forehead with a digital thermometer and if you have a temperature of 101 degrees F or higher you will be asked to go directly to a walk-in clinic or to your physician’s office for evaluation. I will also ask if you are having the signs and symptoms of coronavirus (new symptoms) including shortness of breath, cough, fever, sweating, nausea and vomiting, or fatigue; and if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus in the past two weeks. If you are having these symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, you will also be referred to a medical professional and not treated with acupuncture.

If you test positive after having been in the office please contact me immediately. Anyone who was in the office after your visit will be notified so that they can be tested.

You do not need to wait in your car in the driveway but please do not come into the waiting area of the office early. You need to come into the office alone but your companion or driver may wait in your car.

We will not meet at my desk to take care of payment, rescheduling, and to discuss your case and progress as we have always done. The National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists recommends going directly into the treatment room for business matters and the treatment intake. For more information, go to https://www.nccaom.org/certification/covid19-helpful-resources/.

This is a significant change from the way we, all acupuncturists, have practiced in the past, but our priority is the well-being of our patients and delivering a service that is safe and effective.

I am confident that the office environment is a safe environment for both you and me. I tend to be extra careful about practicing “Universal Preactions” for the medical profession which defines high standards of safety for the practice of acupuncture. I am applying this same high degree of caution in my workplace safety protocols and in the use of personal protective equipment in the treatment room.

Please call me if you have any questions or concerns. I look forward to seeing you in the near future.

Yours in health,

Susan

 

June 2, 2020

To My Patients,

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all non-essential businesses in Massachusetts were ordered temporarily closed by Governor Baker on March 30, 2020. Acupuncturists are designated “non-essential” providers during an epidemic as acupuncture is not utilized for emergency medicine or infectious disease management. Acupuncture Arts East closed on March 24 and will remain closed through June as the state rolls out the economic reopening plan in four phases each of which are three weeks apart.

The reopening of my practice will involve stringent new safety protocols in order to reduce the spread of the virus to anyone who comes in for an appointment. I have attended several “town hall meetings” online to understand “the new normal” that we are all faced with as we navigate our work environment with this new challenge. I am closely following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, the Acupuncture Society of Massachusetts, the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and the guidelines of Governor Baker.

The following protocols are the new regulations that will be in place when AAE reopens:

  • Practitioner and patients will wear face masks (you must have your own) at all times in the office.
  • Patients will get a thermal digital thermometer temperature check and it will be noted in the patient record before every treatment.
  • Patients will answer a few questions to evaluate whether or not they may be sick including:
    • To the best of your knowledge have you been in contact with anyone who has a coronavirus illness?
    • Do you have a fever?
    • Do you have a cough?
    • Are you sweating?
    • Do you have shortness of breath?
    • Do you have nausea and vomiting?
    • Are you exhausted at this time?
  • Patients will sign a waiver saying that they understand that they area at risk of contracting the coronavirus in an office setting and that they will not hold the practitioner liable should they become ill; also, the patient understands that acupuncture is not a treatment for an infectious disease process; and that the patient does not expect to be treated for the coronavirus illness and sequela.
  • Patients will sign an agreement that should they become symptomatic they will notify the practitioner immediately.
  • The practitioner will notify all patients if she is notified that someone who was in the office has become ill; the office will be closed and the practitioner will go into self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • “Touch-points” (door knobs, chairs, bathroom surfaces) in the office will be wiped down with antiseptic wipes before each individual patient visit.

As these protocols are confirmed, I will amend the office protocols as needed.

In order to carry out the new office protocols, I will be seeing patients every 75 minutes instead of every 60 minutes. The extra 15 minutes between appointments will allow me to clean the office and give us a little more time for the coronavirus interview and temperature check. This will limit the number of patients that I see in a day to five people.

Another new procedure is that instead of conducting an intake at my desk, paying for the appointment, and rescheduling, we will go directly into the treatment room to do this. In this way, my office area stays “safe” and I do not have to clean every hour or wear a face mask when I am at my desk which will be much appreciated. I am also looking into ways that you can pre-pay for your appointment through the online payment application in order to streamline your time in the office.

Finally, when I reopen, I will be seeing patients at the Merrimack Medical Center office and not at my home office. I am looking into being at the MMC two days a week instead of only on Thursdays. I will start out seeing only established patients and will not be taking on new patients for a month or so depending on how the schedule fills up.

All of this feels a bit daunting to me now but this is what all practitioners are having to do to keep everyone safe. The COVID-19 epidemic is not over until there are no more reports of people becoming ill. I have been very cautious since March to practice social distancing, to wear a face mask if I am outside of my home, and to stay home except to buy groceries. I have felt safe in my little bubble at home with my husband and my son and I am reluctant to increase the risk of exposure by going back to work. But I think that if all goes well in Massachusetts and I proceed with caution then I can see you, my patients, with confidence.

If you have any questions as to what I have explained here, please do not hesitate to call me to discuss them. This is new to all of us and we can learn from each other. The bottom line is that I plan to do everything that I can to have my office be a “safe” place for you to come and receive the acupuncture treatment that you need and for it to feel safe and healing as always.

With kind regards,

Susan

T: 978-372-4771

E: susan@acupunctureartseast.com