COVID-19 PANDEMIC PRACTICE PROTOCOL
As our patients’ safety and wellbeing is of the utmost importance to us, the following protocol has been put into place. We hope that this will clarify any questions you may have and will re-assure you that we are determined to continue to deliver the best possible care despite the challenging circumstances brought on by the pandemic.
PRACTICE APPOINTMENTS AND PATIENT VISITS:
- The practice is fully operational and will continue to see patients but within certain new practice guidelines.
- While our receptionist is available from 8am to 5 pm every day on either of the practice contact numbers or email, she will only be in the consulting rooms on select days. Should patients wish to come to the practice to make a payment or collect medication, they should please call to ensure that there will be somebody available to assist them.
- Patients with concerning features suggestive of a possible breast, endocrine, soft tissue or skin carcinoma will be prioritized as always. Patients with proven/likely benign disease may have to wait a little longer for their appointments than usual as we will space out appointments in such a way that there will never be more than one or two patients in the waiting area simultaneously.
- If at all possible, it would be helpful if patients go for some relevant investigations like mammography or ultrasound prior to their appointment to limit follow-up visits to the hospital. Should you need advice or assistance with arranging this, we would be more than willing to help.
- Some patients will receive their biopsy/imaging results via telephone consultation if appropriate to limit follow-up visits to the hospital
- When coming in for an appointment, patients should be aware that:
- They should wear a face mask at all time
- They will be screened at the hospital entrance – a short questionnaire will be completed, and their temperature taken. Their hands will be sanitized. They will be given a form that should be handed in at the practice reception that will be kept on record to state that they have been appropriately screened.
- They will be expected to hand sanitize again upon arrival in the practice reception area.
- No family members or friends will unfortunately be allowed into the hospital with the patient. We are acutely aware of the fact that this will cause some emotional distress, but we are unfortunately operating under strict national guidelines that was put in place to make our hospitals and practices as safe as possible for patients. Those family members who wish to “sit in” on a consultation, will be “called in” via a video/voice call during the consultation.
- In the practice we have made the following changes to further ensure our patient’s safety:
- A mask is worn at all times by all staff members
- A Perspex shield has been fitted at the reception area
- No more than three patients will be allowed at any given time in the practice to maintain appropriate physical distancing
- All surfaces in the waiting area are cleaned regularly during the day
- All staff hand sanitize before and after any interaction with patients – even those without any physical contact with the patient
- Gloves will be worn with any physical examination as per usual
- All equipment (stethoscope, monitors etc.) are sanitized before and after each patient. All surfaces in the examination room are cleaned as per usual between each patient.
SURGERIES AND HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS:
- All cancer surgeries proceed on an urgent basis
- Patients with luminal A breast cancers (slow growing and hormone sensitive) with significant co-morbid disease will be considered for neo-adjuvant endocrine therapy for up to 6 months as per current international guidelines until the surgical and hospital environment is safer to perform surgery. These decisions will be made on a case-to-case basis by myself and Dr. Fourie (oncologist).
- Surgery to determine a diagnosis (excision biopsies where needle biopsies is not possible) will proceed on an urgent basis.
- Surgery for confirmed benign disease will proceed on a case-to-case basis depending on the patient’s individual risk profile.
- All patients admitted for surgery will be required to:
- Have a COVID-19 test (nasal swab) at a Path Care laboratory 3 days prior to admission. If a patient test positive, the surgery may be postponed if safe to do so until the patient tests negative. If the patient’s medical aid does not cover the test and the patient is not willing to pay for the test, alternatives will be discussed on a case-to-case basis.
- Will be required to sign an additional consent form included below as stipulated by ASSA and national guidelines.