800 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Suite C-200Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830
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Undoubtedly, these have been very unusual times as we all deal with the uncertainty of the novel COVID-19 Coronavirus. Please know that the providers and staff at East Tennessee Pulmonary are working together to sort though the multiple layers of everchanging information about this worldwide virus. We want to provide our usual level of pulmonary care to every patient, but we want it to be as safe for all of us as possible. In general, we feel that routine pulmonary care is essential to maintaining the health of our patients, but if you are very nervous about any human-to-human interactions, then by all means stay at home and reschedule your appointment for a later date. At this time we have made the following improvements to our routine services:
Clean Environment: While there has always been a professional cleaning service provided to our office by the leasing management company, we are providing our own deep cleaning services in addition to the universal sanitary precautions always performed with every patient visit. We will be cleaning the front doors and glass with antibacterial products as well as cleaning the waiting room and exam room chairs frequently with a bleach-based solution. This treatment also includes all common areas and all testing equipment. Magazines have been removed from the rooms, written check-in forms abolished, and even the waiting room chairs have been spaced further apart.
Patient Visits: We will be contacting you by telephone the day prior to an appointment and ask that you “self screen” with a temperature check at home prior to coming to the office. If you have a fever, then you may contact our nurse by telephone for common sense advice, but we will request that you do not present to the office if there is any chance that you are infectious. Furthermore, we will be introducing an option for you to call the office (865-483-8332) as you arrive in the parking lot, and then await for a call back as your individual check-in is ready. This will help limit exposures to other patients in the common waiting room. We will then rescreen you with a non-touch temperature reading to start your appointment and will require you to wear a mask if a fever is also detected on an oral temperature recheck. Additionally, the clinic will be divided between routine “well visits” for most of the day, but also afebrile “sick visits” separated late in the day. Unfortunately, we do not have COVID-19 or Influenza test kits, so patient symptoms will have to be screened by telephone only rather than in person. We will ask all patients, and require all staff, to use hand sanitizer as well as avoidance of mouth and face touching. The CDC recommends 20 seconds of continuous hand washing and that information will be displayed in the patient and staff bathrooms. All coughing and sneezing (remember it is allergy season) should be done into a tissue or into the crook of the elbow.
CDC & Tennessee Department of Health recommendations: At this time, there is no specific treatment for the COVID-19 virus and supportive measures are usually appropriate in your home. If you simply have fever, cough, or cold-like symptoms, the current CDC recommendation is to remain home in isolation away from others and to remain hydrated. The self-imposed isolation at home is wise, and visits to a walk-in clinic, ER, or primary care office are discouraged for only mild viral symptoms. For patients with more severe symptoms of severe shortness of breath, chest pains, confusion, or respiratory distress, then the ER would be very appropriate, but they would likely want to be alerted of your arrival so patients could be given a mask to wear until a full assessment could be performed.
Remember, the overall risk of contracting COVID-19 remains very, very low, and it is important to avoid inducing fear or panic. We will all get through this global pandemic successfully by working together.