Updates on seeing all OBGYN visits again

As we continue to socially distance, flattening the curve, the healthcare system is slowly increasing access for non-urgent care, here’s what we’re doing:

When it was clear that COVID19 was spreading in the local community, we swiftly moved to adjust our office schedule to see in a safe manner only those patients who required in-person visits. The Shelter-In-Place (SIP) orders have always included medical care—including preventive care—as an essential service. However, we chose to err on the side of caution until the extent of the pandemic was better understood.

Over the last six weeks, we have seen SIP orders dramatically flatten the expected curve of COVID19. This time has allowed hospitals and physician offices to restructure how we provide care and stock up on proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

COVID19 is still here, and we must remain diligent with our social distancing. But the healthcare system in South Bay is returning to scheduling non-urgent care before we start seeing harm from delayed care and diagnoses. El Camino Hospital has resumed elective surgical cases—under a new, safer, stricter workflow—and now we are ready to start seeing our patients for their annual Well Woman Exams, and any other type of office visit.
Changes at El Camino Women’s Medical Group:

Social distancing must be ongoing

  • We have altered our scheduling to allow for minimal to no exposure of patients to each other.
  • There is minimal overlap between physician’s schedules for in-person appointments.
  • Office visits will be more focused as we try to keep our schedules on time.
  • We are continuing to ask patients to come to appointments alone.
  • Telemedicine is here to stay
    • For appropriate visits, it’s wonderful and convenient.
    • Telemedicine allows us to continue care without sharing physical space, reducing exposure for everyone.

Universal masking

  • Inline with SIP orders, we are reminding every patient to come in with a face covering of some type.
  • Patients who arrive without a face covering will be given a face mask from our supplies.
  • As access remains limited, and our staff and physicians must have surgical masks to keep the office safe, we may start charging patients for masks.
  • Patients without any face covering or mask will not be seen.

Our San Jose office will be open again on May 18th

  • Between our exam rooms and two areas for waiting, patients won’t have to share space.
  • With updated workflows, the extra space in San Jose will allow us to safely accommodate our patients who’ve been putting off their visits.

Screening will be ongoing

  • We screen our staff every morning, those with symptoms or fevers go home, for them to recover and to protect everyone in the office.
  • Our current practice of calling patients the day before to screen for symptoms and exposure will continue to ensure we are not causing undue risk to our staff or other patients.

Cleaning protocols

  • We have always thoroughly cleaned rooms between patient visits, but since the arrival of COVID19, all staff are doing a more detailed cleaning of entire exam rooms between each patient as well as frequent cleaning of common areas.
  • We have appropriate cleaning supplies and continue to follow the strictest guidelines for cleaning and sterilization.

Spacing out prenatal appointments

  • In line with ACOG guidelines, we are continuing to space out prenatal patients when appropriate and add televisits when we can.

We are encouraging patients who’ve had appointments rescheduled due to the pandemic to call to schedule them now. There is a long backlog of patient visits, and our schedules will be full soon. Of course, we will continue to encourage and schedule appropriate appointments as televisits. If we have previously rescheduled your annual Well Woman Exam from March or April, you may get a call offering to reschedule you for May.

The feedback from our COVID19 webinars has been fantastic, given the stabilization of the pandemic in the South Bay, we will continue to have them every month or so to keep everyone updated with what we know about its impact on women’s health and pregnancy as well as changes at our office and the hospital.