61ºF

‘It’s a completely safe environment’: Carilion family physicians welcome back patients

Family medicine physicians among those seeing patients this summer

VINTON, Va. – As businesses reopen and more people head out, health care providers are taking extra precautions to keep you safe at the doctor’s office.

“For the longest time in March, we just pretty much were not seeing anybody in the office,” said Dr. Randall Rhea, a Carilion Clinic family medicine physician.

Carilion’s practices are now welcoming back more patients, but your next visit won't look like your last.

“Things are much different than they were before and a lot of things are probably for the better,” said Rhea.

Carilion has implemented lots of new guidelines to make health even more of a priority. That starts even before you step foot in the building. Patients check in via phone from the parking lot, go through coronavirus screening and are directed to a specific entrance. The waiting room is rarely used, but when it is, social distancing is required. Most work, including vitals and labs, is done only in the exam room.

“It's a completely safe environment for patients to feel comfortable about coming back in to,” said Kim Roe, vice president of family and community medicine for Carilion.

It's not just about patients but providers too. Space in the building has been reworked to allow for social distancing amongst employees and many often wear face shields for another layer of protection.

“We want to take this opportunity during the summertime to get as many patients in as we can,” Roe said.

Visits are staggered and about half are still done virtually.

Doctors want to make sure patients aren't delaying care.

“I think there was some apprehension at first about is it safe? But it is really safe,” Rhea said.

Health experts said some of these changes, including a shift to telemedicine, may be here to stay.


About the Author: