As COVID-19 continues to spread, locum tenens doctors will be asked to help their colleagues as never before. In addition to caring for patients, they will need to take measures to safeguard their own health and that of other healthcare personnel.
Although every practice situation will be different in some way, there are a few basic questions that need to be answered:
Are there currently known patients with COVID-19 in the community?
How are they being monitored or treated?
Where can I get reliable, updated information from day to day?
Be familiar with the client’s plan for handling patients who have concerns about symptoms or possible exposure to someone with coronavirus. It’s important to know how the practice deals with these patients at three points of contact:
- The appointments center: Currently, low-risk patients (those without symptoms) are being advised to stay at home, are reassured and monitored by telephone or telemedicine. Those who have symptoms are being told to call the local health authority which will direct them to an appropriate facility.
- Front desk: The front desk should know how to screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms. If a patient screens positive, he or she needs to be directed to a predetermined room away from other patients and staff.
- Exam room: Physicians, nurses, and other staff should be provided with personal protective equipment so that they can safely examine a patient without being exposed to the disease. Of course, make sure personnel know how to properly use the equipment.
Since the situation is likely to change daily, a regular and frequent visit to the CDC’s website for guidelines is highly recommended.
In the end, the doctors who work with Interim Physicians and their medical colleagues will meet this challenge to:
- Reduce morbidity and mortality
- Minimize disease transmission
- Protect healthcare personnel
- Preserve the healthcare system functioning