I manage a large pediatric practice in southern Indiana. We have had the luxury of physically separating sick from well patients since when Covid started. Thankfully our recent increase in volume is making the physical separation difficult at best. Is anyone else out there “mainstreaming” their sick patients back into the practice since providers and staff are vaccinated? To note, we will still separate patients in the waiting room - having sick patients wait in their car.
We ARE still separating our well and sick however the “sick” are screened prior to scheduling. If they are fever free, no Covid contacts, and have issues such as derm, ADHD, UTI, injuries, etc. these sick are worked into the well scheduling blocks. The truly sick- those with fever, Covid exposure, sore throat, headache, cold-like symptoms, etc. are scheduled in the sick block. We only allow one family at a time in the waiting room to avoid the exposure to others.
We are a 7 provider practice 20 miles outside of Boston and we are still following our rules from last July which is seeing well visits and non-ill sick visits in the office and seeing anyone who is ill with fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea or any COVID-19 symptom in the car in our parking lot. The parking lot visits start with a telehealth visit with the family on their phone in the car and then finish with us gearing up into PPE and going out to the car to do any exam needed and any swabs needed.
We have not reopened our waiting room so everyone that has an in-office visit is still waiting in their car until their room is open. We call them in their car when it is cleaned and ready and then they walk into the office right to their exam room.
I think most families like to wait in the car instead of the waiting room and many have expressed the desire in the future to not use the waiting room even if we reopen it. We are lucky because as our parking lot is close to our front door, the distance from any car to exam room is no longer than a walk of 90 seconds.
About 4 months ago we started to ask parents to stop at the front desk to make a next appointment so those are the only people in our waiting room. I do not know how we will utilize our waiting room in the future.