DALLAS - Medical and dental offices in North Texas are making big adjustments in order to prepare to serve regular patients again.
This is uncharted territory for most business owners, including those in the healthcare field.
Some providers will continue to see patients online only, but others are ready to reopen starting Friday, with enhanced safety procedures in place.
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The lobby at Ideal Dental in Dallas, located off Belt Line Road, has been turned into a storage unit of sorts.
Boxes of personal protection equipment are being delivered ahead of Friday's reopening for general dentistry.
“Just making sure that patients feel safe that they have the opportunity to come in,” said Dr. Alex Manrique, with Ideal Dental.
Sitting behind the newly installed Plexiglas at the checkout counter, an employee was making calls to patients on Thursday.
“Have you experienced any of the past symptoms over the past 72 hours: Fever over 104, chills, body aches, coughing?” she said.
Patients will have to have their temperatures checked before going inside.
Appointments will be spaced out to allow for thorough cleaning of each exam room between patients.
“We've been altering our protocol, for example, people wait in their cars be called upon. They’re obviously trying to maintain social distancing,” Dr. Manrique said.
Doctor's offices are also gearing up for routine, in-person appointments that were halted by the pandemic.
“It's a matter of being able to see their eyes. We won't shake their hands, but we'll get to see them,” said Dr. Guy Culpepper, with Bent Tree Family Physicians.
Dr. Culpepper said he was forced to furlough 70 employees seven weeks ago when stay-at-home orders started to go into effect.
“Now it's left us broke like so many family practices,” he said.
A fundraiser allowed him to bring some staff back in order to prepare to start seeing patients Friday, with enhanced safety protocols already in place.
“The idea of letting our patients know now we can care for them in the office. We know better what invisible monster is that we're fighting,” he said. “Now that we have a handle on these things, we know that we can clean surfaces. We glove up with every patient, we mask up with every patient.”
And in order to offset the cost of enhanced personal protection equipment, some healthcare providers are sending out email to patients, letting them know that a portion of that cost is being passed along to them.
That charge is not currently covered by insurance.
Something for folks to be mindful of.