The waiting area can say a lot about a practice, and this holds true even during these unprecedented times. Your waiting area should still demonstrate to patients that their safety is your top priority and there a few simple ways to do this.
Prior to entering the clinic patients should be screened, this screening should include a temperature check and a review of COVID-19 symptoms. Only the patient themselves should be allowed into the facility unless there is a physical reason requiring an accompanying person. Patients should not be allowed into the facility without wearing their mask properly with nose, mouth and chin area covered. All chairs should be spaced at least 6 feet apart within easy viewing of front desk staff, so they are able to monitor the waiting area. Chairs should be made from a material that is easy to disinfect and should be sanitized before and after use. Some clinics may have patients wait in their vehicle and they are only allowed into the waiting area once a technician is available.
There are some items you may want to remove from the waiting area as they would be difficult to sanitize. This includes items such as magazines, books, pamphlet stations, or toys for children. Instead hand sanitizer should be readily available and spaced out throughout the waiting area. Signage should be placed around the waiting area reviewing how your practice is taking steps to keep patients and staff safe.
Remember to be mindful that this can be a confusing time not only for the staff but for your patients as well. Patients should be provided with clear instructions on new protocol over the phone when confirming appointment times and sent information through the patient portal. Ensure that your clinic website is updated frequently with new procedures and/or forms patients will need. Posting signage in front of the building reviewing basic instructions for patients can also be helpful. Taking these simple steps will convey to your patients that your practice cares about their safety and the safety of those around them in clinic.