Proceed with caution. This is one of several mantras I have been attempting to live by these last few weeks. As our practices slowly begin to “open back up,” the process has been beset with caution and protective measures. Early on during the period in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended postponing non-emergent care, ODs knew that dipping our toes into the waters of “routine” clinical life again would be slow.
For starters, there are the physical barriers to infection and transmission that need to be in place. We all went on shopping sprees for non-contact forehead thermometers, partitions, filters, wipes, more gloves, more masks, more alcohol, more hydrogen peroxide, and on and on. We updated out office protocols: health checks for all who enter the building, people calling ahead or knocking on the door, questions about COVID-19 specific symptoms and travel to regions deemed “hot spots,” frequent sanitation of all surfaces, changes to the flow of the building, and on and on.
I got used to the physicality pretty quickly. We are used to sanitizing surfaces, anyway. I’m not bothered by the mask and glasses. I will say I’m not smart enough to keep the glasses from fogging. I’m thankful for the slit-lamp partition compliments of Zeiss. The air filters aren’t all that noisy.
In my head
What drives me nuts, however, is the psychology of the whole thing. Did I see any silent carriers today? Were my glasses on tight enough? Does my staff take things as seriously outside the office as I mandate at work? How many gloves are sufficient to store up? How long before I’m comfortable seeing more than a patient every hour? What are my bills going to look like as my Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loan gets spent down? Will I miss checking a box somewhere on the loan forgiveness application and have to pay it all back? Will we have that second spike we keep hearing about?
I’d be lying if I told you these things weren’t all in my head at the time I penned this editorial. Many of these things are in your heads, too, and I want you to know you are absolutely not alone. As far as being a small business owner during all of this, I have felt alone at times. I was recently on a virtual happy hour with 8 friends, and I was the only one who wasn’t working from home. In fact, one friend was quick to say business was better than ever. Instead of countering that I had operated on less than 1 percent of my typical patient load for 2 months, I simply said, “Hear, hear.”
The point of conveying my thoughts is not to be rhetorical and not to solicit answers. It is to be honest and collegial with you as my friend and partner in optometry. I do firmly believe that much brighter days are ahead for us. We are in this together, and it is together that we will overcome.
Stay safe, take care, and I sincerely hope to see you soon.