We’re taking every step we can to protect you and your children — and to protect our entire community — during this COVID outbreak. Some of these are some big changes that we know will be disruptive. Please be assured that we’re doing this to help keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.
We now have separate times for WELL and SICK scheduling. At both of our offices, ALL MORNING APPOINTMENTS are ONLY for NON-CONTAGIOUS issues — well physicals, plus other concerns that are clearly not contagious, like injuries or ordinary headaches or school concerns. We will NOT see or evaluate any patient during morning hours who have potentially contagious illnesses, with symptoms that include any of the following: fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea. In addition, if you or anyone you bring with you to our office has any of these symptoms, you cannot be seen during the morning hours. We plan to be very strict about this to assure families with well children, newborns, or children at high risk that they can safely come into our office in the morning hours.
In the afternoons at both offices we will see children with any concern with an appointment. We cannot accommodate walk-in visits — you must call ahead for an appointment. We will do everything we can to reduce waits and mingling of patients in our waiting rooms, which means we cannot “squeeze in” walk ins. If you have multiple children who you feel need to be seen, every one of them needs an appointment.
We encourage you NOT to bring your children to see us for minor illnesses, like ordinary cold symptoms. We do not, yet, have a test available for COVID, and it is better for anyone with symptoms of a minor infection to stay home. We know that some schools are insisting on doctor’s notes for a variety of reasons, which is misguided and likely to worsen this outbreak. If you only are coming in to get a note, please send us a portal message — we may be able to help you without your having to come in.
We now offer Telehealth video visits for many sick concerns that can be safely managed without our seeing your child in person. This can include some rashes, psychiatric or behavioral follow-ups, pink eye, mild cold symptoms without ear pain or any difficulty breathing, constipation, mild diarrhea, and other mild illnesses. Some concerns will require an office visit to safely and effectively treat your child. Telehealth visits will be billed identically to an in-person visit, and under Georgia Law all insurers are required to pay for these identically to the way an in-person visit would have been paid (so you’ll be responsible for whatever copay/deductible your insurance requires.)
We encourage everyone to speak with our nurse or send a portal message prior to scheduling a sick appointment — we will tell you if we think your child needs to come in, or we may offer a Telehealth appointment for a remote video assessment.
Any patient coming in for evaluation of cough AND fever should wait outside in their car. If you did your pre-registration in advance from your texted/emailed appointment reminder, you can just call us from your car when you get to the parking lot. If you didn’t pre-register, you’ll need to come inside to register. Afterwards, we will call you when your exam room is ready.We want all patients OR family members to wait in the car with cough AND fever — plus any family that prefers to wait outside can do this, too.
We’re also taking several steps at our offices to make them as safe as possible. We’ve gotten rid of magazines and books that are difficult to clean (bring your own!), and have new cleaning protocols in place for commonly-touched surfaces. Although supplies are scarce, we’re doing our best to use the most-appropriate protective equipment for our staff and patients.
Together, we can make it through this. We’ve all got to do our part to reduce transmission, especially to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities: the elderly, and adults with pre-existing health problems. Fortunately, children don’t seem to be severely affected by COVID. It’s not time to panic, but it is time to prepare.