Doctor’s offices eliminate waiting rooms during outbreak

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The coronavirus outbreak has forced doctor’s offices to make changes in how nurses and doctors interact with patients.

Alger Pediatrics in Grand Rapids no longer allows patients in the waiting rooms. Nurses are calling patients prior to any appointments and asking them to call from the parking lot to announce their arrival.

The nurses then walk up to the cars, wearing masks and gloves, to assess if the patient should walk in through the sick door or the healthy door, and take patients directly to exam rooms.

Dr. Stephanie Walter says anyone with a cough or fever will have to wear a mask as they enter the exam rooms. She says they’re also suggesting that non-essential visits happen via their virtual visit app, Care Convene. It would include situations where a parent wants to discuss a condition like ADHD or has other mental health questions, or if their child has a rash or eye infection.

In general, any patient who doesn’t require a vaccine should go through the virtual visit first as part of the screening process. 

“The hope is to limit community spread and this idea of social distancing is to protect our staff and the community,” said Walter.

Doctors at the office have heard from many parents with questions about if they should even go in for their visits.

“We’re letting them know what we’re doing differently to keep this a safe place to receive care at this point, but it’s changing daily. So, tomorrow could be even different,” Walter said.

Other offices in West Michigan are taking similar precautions. Patients should call ahead of time to see if they need to do anything differently before the go to an appointment, or if they can do a virtual visit.

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