Pa. Gov. Wolf Grants Immunity to Health Care Providers and What It Means for Your Philadelphia Orthodontics Care
With COVID-19 still active in Philadelphia, health care providers are dealing with a pandemic that still has many unknowns. One of the key questions: with a virus that doesn’t have clear parameters, how are health care providers expected to handle care? The Pennsylvania Medical Society has asked for protections, and Governor Wolf has granted it, by providing immunity to health care providers. This immunity covers malpractice suits for good-faith COVID-19 care, but does not cover instances such as willful misconduct and gross negligence.
What does this mean for Philadelphia orthodontics?
Like any other health care field, there are changes that will have to be made. During this pandemic, many orthodontist have had to stop practicing, or been forced to adjust their safety protocols. Many only being able to see patients in emergency scenarios. The future of orthodontic care in Philadelphia, is going to be one where new policies and procedures are put into place to ensure the safety of patients and staff.
Gone are the days of full waiting rooms, offices staffed with all employees at one time, and open working areas. Philadelphia orthodontics, as well as orthodontics around the nation, are having to figure out ways to redesign their spaces to accommodate social distancing. Examples of changes being made: barriers in between work stations, checking temperatures before being allowed in the office, health questionnaires and different work shifts for employees. Some are even utilizing technology to do a virtual orthodontic consultation, including Invisalign orthodontics.
Many will set up a sort of triage point before allowing patients to gain access to the office. Anyone with a temperature over 100 degrees, will be sent home to observe the 14 day quarantine period. Not only will triages, such as these, potentially be imposed for patients, but for employees as well. Questionnaires that ask a variety of health related questions, could be mandated as well. This would give providers another means of assessing if a patient is safe to be seen.
These changes could take time and money. With businesses already struggling financially during these past couple of months. Being unable to operate at full capacity, it is yet to be seen how long businesses will take to have a sense of normalcy. Offices that could see up to 100 patients a day, can see those numbers being significantly reduced. They will have to be drastically curtailed in order to provide the space that is needed to maintain social distancing.
Fewer patients could not only mean longer hours, but will undoubtedly continue to require health care professionals broaden their experiences and professional responsibilities. Like so many industries across the world, Philadelphia orthodontics are going to have to continue thinking outside of the box. Coming up with solutions that will make patients feel safe when coming back to continue treatment.
Modern technology could be one way to provide a new normal. Utilizing virtual consultations could decrease the amount of time that is needed in the actual office. Allowing more room for patients who need to be seen in-person. Technology may be what companies across the board start relying on more, in order to allow the social distancing that is required, while being able to see the reduced number of patients per day.
Drop Off Policies
Many will also start utilizing drop-off policies. This is where family members are asked to stay in the car, while the patient is getting treated. This will drastically reduce the amount of individuals in the office who are not actually being seen for a service. Once the visit is complete, they can call the front desk to get further information on the appointment. This could include what took place during the visit, follow-up protocols, and scheduling the next appointment.
We can also expect to continue seeing hygiene and sanitation practices being a key component to protecting patients and employees. We might see things such as restrooms being closed off to the public, brushing stations no longer being accessible and waiting rooms no longer being utilized like they were before.
Patients will need to do more in terms of preparation for the appointment, and what they need to do after. Anything that can help reduce the point of contact could be considered and implemented. What once could be taken care of at the office, could now be up for debate. What could patients be doing before, and after to help decrease the amount of time they are in the office. It is yet to be seen exactly what can, and will, be changed in orthodontic care in Philadelphia, and across the nation.
Times Are Changing
Times are calling for new practices, and orthodontics across the nation are going to have to look to each other to see what can be done to bring patients, and business back. One thing we can all anticipate is not only change, but a period of trial and error. Everyone will have to be flexible in order for health care providers to be successful.
These are unprecedented times, and Governor Wolf granting immunity is showcasing that providers are doing everything they can to help in a situation that is truly changing daily. Everyone is trying to come up with the best ways to protect both patients and employees. We can see the numbers of new COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia decreasing, but it is yet to be seen if these numbers stay that way. With many states slowly starting to reopen businesses, it is up to orthodontics, and other industries, to pave the way.
We are living in a new age, one where everyone will have to come up with new solutions to protect ourselves from future pandemics. In order for patients to not only feel like their health is being taken into account, but for orthodontic’s offices to follow procedures in regards to COVID-19 changes that will indefinitely need to be made. What we saw before this pandemic took place, may be gone for good.