It’s getting hard, if not impossible, to go in for a regularly scheduled elective treatment amid the coronavirus outbreak. For those with planned surgeries and aesthetic treatments, the question has become: Is it safe to continue with the regularly scheduled plan? As several municipalities around the country begin limiting travel to essential appointments, where does that leave doctors and patients with what may have been once considered a life-changing procedure on the calendar? We checked in with doctors around the country to discuss best practices.
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Safe and Sterile
First and foremost, all doctors we’ve spoken to have said they’re asking patients who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 or has traveled internationally in the past few weeks to not come to their offices.
Boston, MA facial plastic surgeon Min S. Ahn, MD says he and his staff keep spaces clean by ensuring patients are taken immediately to a private, sterilized room, to avoid sitting together in the waiting room. Floors are cleaned with a bleach solution at least twice daily and all counters and surfaces are wiped down after each patient visit.
At New York plastic surgeon B. Aviva Preminger, MD’s practice, distance is a safety precaution too. “Staff needs to maintain social distancing of six feet when possible,” explains the surgeon.
“We’re doing everything we’ve always done in terms of the operating room,” says Encino, CA plastic surgeon George Sanders, MD. “It’s always been an area where absolute sterility is the name of the game. All surfaces are viral free, including the instruments, and what is used for anesthesia. There are certain anti-viral measures in place.”
In Miami, plastic surgeon Sean Simon MD, says sterility is nothing new in his operating room, but now he’s ramping up his cleaning process: “I have invested in UV light sterilization equipment to even more thoroughly sterilize every surface and even airborne bacteria and viruses throughout the entire office and surgery center,” says Dr. Simon. “This has been implemented immediately and used daily, not only at the end of each day but between surgical cases as well. I am confident my office will be the cleanest place anyone can be! I want my patients to feel comfortable that we are doing everything possible to create the safest environment for their care.”
Postponed for Now
In Stanford County, CA, a “Shelter in Place” initiative has been ordered urging residents to stay in their homes and away from each other. Palo Alto, CA plastic surgeon David Boudreault, MD has had to postpone scheduled surgeries: “Due to the ‘Shelter in Place’ order we are sad to say that our office will be closed until April unless there is a medically necessary need. Botox and BBLs can wait, and we will be sure to do our very best to see you all to get summer ready! Until then, wear your masks and stay safe.”
In Grand Rapids, MI, plastic surgeon Bradley Bengtson, MD says he and his staff have decided to close their doors as a precaution. “Although West Michigan has very few patients so far, we believe the numbers will increase as testing increases and believe it is best for our community and country to limit elective visits,” he says.
In New York, where the city that never sleeps lies dormant, dermatologist Doris Day, MD and neighboring dermatologist, Heidi Waldorf, MD, in Nanuet, NY, announced they would temporarily close.
For Chicago dermatologist Carolyn Jacob, MD, Spokane, WA dermatologist Wm. Philip Werschler, MD and Beverly Hills, CA plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, MD, taking their work online is one way to help protect patients. “We are doing everything possible to prevent an outbreak here in the Inland Northwest, and we are active in keeping the situation to a minimum,” says Dr. Werschler. “With this in mind, we are offering video telemedicine. Many types of visits are possible via a video telemedicine appointment.”
Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby recently celebrated her practice’s 16-year anniversary, and in these times, there was only one way to celebrate. She took the party online. “My office is still open for follow-up appointments and we are taking every measure to keep things safe for our patients. We just couldn’t hold an event with so many people, so we moved our Sweet 16 party to Facebook and Instagram Live.”
Whether you’re having to decide to follow through with a treatment or postpone it until further notice, the number one thing doctors wanted patients to remember is to stay safe, stay home if you’re feeling sick and continue to wash your hands and sterilize the environment around you.