Choosing to close or remain open for emergencies during the current COVID-19 pandemic may have been one of the toughest business decisions you’ve had to make. Whether you’ve shut your doors or not, it’s safe to say all of us are struggling in some way or another. COVID-19 has and will continue to test the willpower of businesses across America and the rest of the world.
Re-opening your business or preparing it to see patients at scale will not be an easy task to accomplish once the coronavirus threat dissipates. We’re here to lay out what you need to know in order to re-open as safely and strategically as possible:
1. Timing is the single most important factor in a successful re-opening.
The problem our federal, state and local governments are facing is that if municipalities open up too soon, there is high risk of the coronavirus “curve” swinging back up. Timing matters. It is not only important for us to follow government regulations and suggested re-opening timelines according to your local officials, but we must also make logical logistical decisions ourselves.
If you can afford to, we recommend delaying opening your doors by a few days or even 1 week after local officials give you the go-ahead for business-as-usual. This will give you an additional buffer so you’re not putting yourself, your employees or your patients at any unnecessary risk. You can find the federal government’s re-opening plan on whitehouse.gov.
2. Start slow and yes, traffic will be slow.
Coronavirus has struck genuine fear into the hearts and minds of all Americans across the country. What does that mean for you? It will take time for the average American to become comfortable with leaving their homes. In fact, you will more than likely see a slew of marketing from businesses letting you know just how safe it is for you to visit them. The point we’re making is: don’t expect customers to come flooding through your doors as soon as the novel coronavirus threat is over. Chances are it will be months before you see pre-COVID patient numbers.
From a risk-based perspective, we recommend opening with essential staff only for the first 2 weeks. After things seem safe, bring back employees that are higher-risk. Please note, these are merely suggestions.
3. Integrate new social distancing guidelines for your business staff & patients.
When re-opening, your primary goal needs to be the safety and health of your staff and your patients. Every decision you make needs to be one that adds to that goal. We recommend putting colored tape markers around your optical dispensary so staff and patients can maintain the 6 foot distancing in areas that tend to crowd. We also recommend erecting sneeze guards in high-traffic areas such as the reception area, at dispensing tables and even in exam rooms.
4. Collect PPE for your business staff & patients.
Before re-opening make sure you’re able to secure adequate amounts of PPE for yourself, your staff and for patients that may be exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms. Recommended PPE for your optical practice includes hand sanitizer, N95 masks, isolation gowns, face visors and sneeze guards where applicable.
If you cannot get N95 masks, which are designed to filter out 95% of particles, use a KN95 mask, which also filter 95% of particles and are now FDA approved for use. While N95 masks are the US standard, KN95 masks are the Chinese standard for protective masks. If you are unable to secure N95 or KN95 masks, surgical masks, while less effective, are better than nothing. Surgical masks filter 62% to 65% of particles.
5. Book patients for exam of consultation in advance to set rules and expectations ahead of time.
Book patients in a manner that minimizes the number of people in your optical practice at any given time. We recommend operating at 30% capacity to start and going up from there. Why? So that you can see where there are gaps or where you are missing protective policies/equipment. You can then rectify these issues before running at 100% capacity. Booking patients is also your first opportunity to review the COVID-related rules and regulations you have set for your practice.
6. Measure your patient’s temperature upon entry.
If you or your team falls within the COVID-19 high-risk category, you may want to take even more extreme measures to protect your optical practice. You could consider checking patients’ temperatures as they enter your practice. Note that this may make some patients feel unwelcome. That said, you cannot put a price on peace of mind, especially if you are more susceptible to complications from COVID-19. If you are high risk, we also recommend requiring every staff member and patient to wear a mask.
7. Require patients to fill out an online COVID-19 questionnaire prior to their visit.
As an additional precautionary measure you may want to consider requiring all patients to fill out, sign and agree to an online COVID-19 agreement form and questionnaire prior to coming to your practice. This will show patients that you are serious about protecting your employees, patients and yourself.
We recommend including information such as staying home if your patient has a fever, feels unwell or may have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 in the last 15 days. We also recommend adding information regarding your COVID-related procedures and the protective policies you have set in place. Finally, be sure to remind your patients to wear a mask when coming in for their appointment.
There are many approaches when it comes to re-opening your business. Please note, these are merely suggestions. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our protective sneeze guards or face visors, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-877-274-9300!
Frame Displays provides optometrists, opticians, ophthalmologists and eyewear shops with Space Planning and Design services while also providing popular Optical Furniture choices. If your space is poorly designed or your furniture is outdated, you could be bleeding sales rapidly. We offer high quality optical furniture faster than others, and we do it at DIY prices. Contact us for a free consultation at1-877-274-9300 or contact us here.