Q: Are you open for medical visits, return and new patients?
A: Yes, we are seeing 10-20 patients daily, most of them for their chronic medical issues like hypertension, diabetes, depression and so forth. We are also seeing new patients. We have more open slots than usual as we are not really doing anything on the cosmetic side of the practice.
Q: What are you doing to prevent transmission of possible infectious diseases in the office, such as COVID-19?
A: Infection control prevention and cleaning techniques have been ramped up due to the current pandemic. People with possible viral infection such as COVID-19 are screened over the phone, then in their cars, then temperature is taken in their cars, then they are seen in the office if appropriate. For those with high risk symptoms we perform a telemedicine visit with Dr. Van Reken over the phone (usually covered by insurance). Further instructions are given to the patient, most of whom do not require an ER visit or hospital stay. Often, with telemedicine phone visits prescriptions will be called in, such as inhalers, antibiotics or antiviral medication. In addition, exam tables, chairs and stethoscopes are sanitized between each patient visit. We are wearing masks and disposable gloves, even though none of us are sick, for most patient contacts. We are washing our hands very frequently. Obviously, this is above and beyond what anyone in our area was doing in January, before this virus visited Washoe County.
Q: What is your advice about COVID-19?
A: The first piece of advice is to follow the current guidelines which you see on TV and in print. Go out only when necessary–for food, supplies, medical visits, take out food, etc. You should wash your hands frequently. It is more important than ever to optimize your health. Think about it, COVID-19 is like a pneumonia, a large surgery or a bad auto accident. The better shape you are in medically before the medical stress, the higher the likelihood of recovering quickly. Older folks and those with chronic medical problems do worse with COVID-19. Diabetes, prediabetes, hypertension, heart disease and chronic respiratory problems seem to predispose to more problems fighting this disease. The lesson is simple: if you have chronic medical problems like asthma or diabetes it is a good time to get these issues well controlled. If you have been irregular at taking your medication, now is the time to be more careful. If you need our help, we are here for you.
Q: What if I want a cosmetic service, like mole removal or Botox, can I still get it?
A: Yes and no. If you wish a cosmetic service, like Botox, and you are here for a medical visit anyway, we can still provide this cosmetic service with your medical visit. However, if you want to come in for strictly cosmetic service, like Botox, we are not currently offering this due to current advice from the governor and health authorities.
Q: How bad are things in Washoe County?
A: I’m writing this Q & A info on 3/26/20, at which time Washoe county still has less than 75 cases of COVID-19. Obviously, one can’t accurately predict the future in this setting. Things could obviously worsen over time, as they have in many areas. People have been staying home quite a bit from work and school which should help. Time will tell. As a country we seem to have reacted sooner than those in Europe and China so the pandemic here seems more manageable.