COVID-19 Policies – Philip M Spiro, MD
[April 2022 Update]
As we all navigate our lives during this ongoing pandemic, I continue to consider how to best manage the risks in my practice. My aim is to provide the best clinical services I can, while factoring in my own preferences and risk assessments as well as the preferences of my patients and their assessment of their own personal risks in their own particular situations. I believe that unmasked in-person meetings are optimal, but that is not always wise or practical and in our current conditions and, for many, the risks may not outweigh the benefits. I work to remain aware of current CDC recommendations, county/state regulations, local outbreak conditions, vaccination patterns, as well as the basic science, and work those into a plan which allows me to help my patients in the best way I can while, at the same time, keeping risk to myself and others at a minimum.
To that end, I, and the other clinicians in my office, are adhering to the following COVID risk mitigation plan at present and will update this document as conditions change. Keep in mind that I will hold on to no judgments about whatever you decide is best for you. We all have different lives and different ways of assessing the risks and benefits of whatever choices we make. I will honor whatever way of working together you deem best for you.
1) MEETING IN PERSON IS CURRENTLY THE DEFAULT: I consider that my office is a safe place to meet, and that two fully vaccinated people can meet indoors without masks. Therefore, I prefer to meet in person if you have been vaccinated and/or do not have objections to meeting this way.
- Please let me know in advance if this is acceptable to you or if you would prefer to meet in a different way.
- Also let me know if you have NOT been fully vaccinated before coming into the office.
- I have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine plus a booster, so I consider myself to be of low risk for getting a serious case of the disease OR for transmitting it asymptomatically.
i. Of course, it is unknown with certainty how much the vaccines actually affect virus transmission from an asymptomatic person, but it does change the risk equation.
- And with the Delta and Omicron variants of SARS-COV2, and evidence that vaccinated people can carry and transmit these variants, it is even more important that you attend to your physical status and not come to the office if you are symptomatic in any way.
i. Local cases of COVID and COVID-hospitalizations are currently low in our county and I consider the risk of transmission to be insignificant as long as we adhere to basic protocols and neither of us comes to the office when symptomatic, but if that changes, I will change my policies and let you know.
- It is also important that our meeting in person (as outlined below) is acceptable to other people in your life as you are putting yourself - and therefore them - at some higher risk.
- Do not come to the office if you are even slightly symptomatic with any of the various COVID-19 symptoms: cough, fever, fatigue, loss of sense of taste or smell, sore throat, and headache. Or, frankly, since this disease varies widely, it could be any symptom for you that is unusual and otherwise unexplained.
i. If we have to cancel an in-person appointment for the above reasons, we can revert to a virtual meeting if you prefer.
ii. There will be no charge for a meeting that you have to cancel at last minute because you are symptomatic.
- If you do come to the office, please plan to wait in your car until your appointment time.
i. There are also seats outside you can use instead of your car if you prefer.
ii. There is a restroom off of the waiting room. Feel free to use this before your appointment. Just come in and use it as you need and then go back out to wait in your car.
- Please be assured that I will not see patients in the office if I am symptomatic.
2) VIRTUAL VISITS ARE ALSO AVAILABLE: If, for any reason, you would prefer to meet virtually we can do that. I use Zoom as my preferred video platform.
- I will send you a zoom invitation by email the morning of your appointment.
- If you need some instruction on how to use Zoom, please let me know.
i. If you are not sure if your computer/device is set up for Zoom you can go to https://zoom.us/test and start a “test meeting” to make sure your system is ready.
- To ensure privacy, I use the “waiting room” function on Zoom and will let you into the meeting at the appointed time after I am notified you are there.
i. Please do not enter the meeting until your appointed time.
- If you prefer, for any reason, to meet by phone that is fine. Just let me know and we’ll figure out who calls whom.
- And if there is a different video platform you prefer for any reason, let me know, but you would need to arrange this.
- If you are unable to find privacy at home and still would like to meet by Zoom, it may be possible for you to come to my office and use an empty office to Zoom from.
3) SAFETY OF OFFICE MEETINGS:
- Though there is direct access to my suite from the parking lot and it is possible you may encounter other people who may, or may not, have been vaccinated.
- b. THE WEARING OF A MASK IS OPTIONAL. Please USE YOUR OWN JUDGMENT ABOUT WHETHER TO wear a mask in the waiting room and hallway.
- Masks in my office are also optional.
i. If you prefer that I wear a mask, please let me know ahead of time.
- While I am meeting with people in my office, I will no longer keep the windows open unless this is your preference. If it is, you should let me know ahead of time.
i. I will keep and air-purifier in operation and ventilation fans running in all circumstances for the time being.