Why I wear scrubs in the office during COVID-19

April 24, 2020

Hello, my name is Dr. Melanie Denton Dombrowski, and I'm the owner of a small private practice in Salisbury, NC. Well, it's actually, it's actually not that small anymore. I started this practice 4 years ago, and I started it 100 percent completely cold. And it has been so much fun to build it. If you want to check out my practice’s page, head over to Salisbury Eyecare and Eyewear’s YouTube. We do videos there every week for our patients.

Today, I'm speaking for Optometry Times®, and I wanted to talk a little bit about COVID. We are in the middle of this crazy global pandemic. COVID has come, it feels like, out of the blue. And we are all making these decisions that we have no experience with.

Related: Fashion advice from an OD on the frontlines of COVID-19

One of my team members said the other day, it just feels like the game has completely changed, and I don't know any of the answers anymore. That is exactly how I feel, too.

Why scrubs
Today, I am going to be addressing why I have decided to wear scrubs at this point and why I foresee myself and my team wearing scrubs in the near future.

To watch the associated video of Dr. Denton, click here

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Medical care
So, number one, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came out and took away routine exams from optometry, it stripped the profession down. It stripped what I do down to being 100 percent medical only, all the time.

For me, part of wearing my daily uniform of a dress and heels is that I am a business owner with a retail aspect. We sell high-end sunglasses, high-end glasses, high-end sunglasses. And so, it is part of that image of working in a place that has higher-end goods. But when you strip it down to just services only and we are doing medical care only, it made sense to me that I would wear scrubs.

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Easy to sanitize
OK, number two, we are dealing with a pathogen. We are dealing with a virus that is highly contagious, and that is requiring us to do different things in order to protect ourselves and our patients. And so, part of that is wearing a mask when I see patients, having patients wear masks, and putting protective equipment on my slit lamp. I have even started putting my hair up when I see patients.

To me, scrubs are part of that uniform. This is a uniform that when I get home, I can take it off and throw it right in the laundry and wash it on hot to keep it sanitized. That is something that is really important to me-my higher-end dresses and heels and things like that do not lend themselves to being sanitized in that way.

To watch the associated video of Dr. Denton, click here

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Take it seriously
The third thing is I think that it sends a clear message to my patients that things have changed, that this is serious and is to be taken seriously. So, if you have seen me the whole time you have known me, you have seen me in a fancy dress and heels and all of a sudden, your doctor is wearing a white coat, scrubs, hair up, mask,-it is a pretty powerful image that this is something to take seriously.

As a member of the medical community, I want to be a good influence on my patients. I want to encourage them to take precautions to follow the recommendations of the CDC to stay home. You know, I feel that we are very important in spreading that message, as well.

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Values
Finally, I think what you wear in your clinic is a personal decision, and it has to really align with your clinic's values and your values as a professional. For me, I am wearing scrubs right now, while I am seeing urgent and emergent patients. I foresee that in the immediate future, when I am seeing patients and we have reopened and we are still taking social distancing strategy seriously, we are still taking extra precautions. I will be wearing scrubs for a little while. And so will my team, but I think that that sends the right message to our patients.

What are you wearing?
Someday, we will get to wear normal clothes again. I can't wait for that day. My closet is begging me to go back to dresses. But for now, I think scrubs are the right decision.

I want to hear what you are wearing in your practice. This has been a hot topic on Facebook groups. I have been following those threads. And I know there are a lot of opinions out there. So, if you are watching this, tell me what you are wearing in your clinic, what changes you have made, and when you expect to go back to normal.

Are you just going to go back to your regular dress clothes right away? Are you going to wear scrubs for a little bit?

Let me know down below, and I will see you next time.

To watch the associated video of Dr. Denton, click here

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