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New steps medical offices are taking to keep patients and staff safe during appointments

Posted June 18, 2020 by Charles A. Zonfa, MD, FACOG | Chief Medical Officer and Vice President, Network Development and Contracting

In accordance with Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health, many hospitals, physician practices and dental offices across the state are resuming health services as cases continue to stabilize and the stay-at-home order has been lifted. 

But while we understand the integral part regular checkups, health screenings and management of chronic illness play in our overall health, it’s understandable many members are nervous to step back into the doctor’s office amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you had a medical or dental appointment that was canceled during the recent shutdown or are due for a checkup, many members want to know is it safe to return to the doctor’s office? 

SummaCare wants to assure you it’s safe. Doctor offices have always practiced strict infection control procedures, and have made even more changes to help keep patients and their staff safe. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is continually updating operation guidelines to adjust the way healthcare services are delivered during these unprecedented times.  

So, don’t delay your medical needs or ignore symptoms that you’d otherwise call your doctor about. Early detection and treatment improve a doctor’s ability to provide the most comprehensive and effective care for you.

For your next doctor’s visit, here’s what you can expect as we navigate our new normal.

Before you go

For extra precaution, your doctor’s office may call you before your appointment to ask you questions about your health and recent travel. If you have felt unwell, they may ask you to reschedule. Upon arrival, the office may repeat these questions to make sure nothing has changed.

Each office may follow different procedures for welcoming patients back, so it’s important to talk to your doctor ahead of time and understand the process. For example, your doctor’s office may:
Ask you to bring and wear your own masks.
Ask you to limit the number of people you bring to your appointment. That could mean leaving children at home or allowing older children to go into the office alone, while you wait outside during their appointment.

At your appointment

When you arrive for your appointment, you may be asked to wait outside until the medical team is ready to see you to reduce the number of people in the office.

Inside the office, you may notice that magazines, books and toys have been removed from the waiting area. Many offices will ask you to use hand sanitizer when you arrive and you will have your temperature taken prior to any procedure. 

Once in the exam area, your medical team may also have more personal protection equipment on, such as face shields, a different mask, goggles, a gown and more.


Once you leave your appointment, staff will thoroughly clean the areas where patients have been, using disinfectants that are effective against the virus that causes COVID-19.

If you have any questions after your appointment, make sure you call your doctor to discuss them. Medical offices and patients are navigating this return together. Remember to be patient, and don’t hesitate to voice concerns so that you and your medical team can work together.


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