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Why patients' return to doctors, hospitals will look different — in a good way

Rick Bonnell, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Health & Fitness

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Medical procedures invariably cause patients stress. COVID-19 just amplifies that.

"Normally, there's a level of anxiety with any procedure. Even if it's routine for (the doctor), it's the one time you're getting this done," said Dr. Vipul Shah, a Charlotte eye surgeon. "You doing this (during the pandemic) adds that much more anxiety. So our comfort needs to transfer to them."

After about two months of low activity in response to the pandemic, medical practices are starting to open up again. If you need cataract surgery or a colonoscopy or a knee replacement, medical providers are scheduling you again.

However, it won't be as you once experienced a doctor's appointment: You will likely have a medical screening and have your temperature checked before entering a medical office. Depending on the practice, you will either be required or at least strongly requested to wear a face mask.

If you schedule a procedure, you will likely be required to have a COVID-19 test days before, and to self-quarantine until your operation is performed.

Doctors know that all adds to a patient's apprehension. The doctors are adjusting, too, by wearing more personal protective equipment (PPE) and doing some appointments by video calls, rather than in-person visits.

 

But in the end, it's on the medical pros to manage patients' worries:

"People have fear of a procedure," said Shah, with Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Associates (CEENTA). "Now, there is an added burden of care."

New normal

In mid-March, when COVID-19 began spreading widely in the United States, medical providers had to re-evaluate everything about daily business.

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