We at Charles River Medical Associates hope that you and your loved ones are safe during this very difficult time. We understand that many of you are dealing with hardships of family illness, social distancing, childcare issues, and job uncertainty, in addition to general concern about the future. We want to keep you updated about our efforts at CRMA to continue caring for our patients and are writing this letter to share our plans to restructure our offices.
We believe Covid-19 will be with us for some time. For the last 2 months, most of our care has been delivered via telemedicine and most testing and in-person care has been deferred. As time goes on, we will have more and more patients whose care cannot be deferred any longer. We are also worried about patients with health concerns who haven’t been calling because they assume that they cannot be seen. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health released guidelines for healthcare providers to partially resume services, and we will begin reopening this week.
Our top priority is to keep you and our staff safe. If you require in-person services, we have implemented the following protocols to keep you safe:
- Masks: All staff, patients, and visitors will wear masks while in CRMA offices. We ask patients to bring their own masks from home.
- Covid-19 Risk: Patients with active Covid-19 symptoms and patients who require procedures that induce coughing or sneezing, create risks for CRMA staff and other patients. Some of these patients and procedures will be referred to other CRMA and non-CRMA facilities that are equipped specifically to see these patients.
- Symptom Checking: All CRMA staff are screened for symptoms at the start of each day, and staff with even minor symptoms are sent home. You should expect to be screened for Covid-19 symptoms upon entering a CRMA office. Most symptomatic patients will be treated via telemedicine or be referred to non-CRMA facilities equipped for this if they need to be seen in person.
- Patient Companions: If you bring a companion, they may be asked to wait in the car. We will make exceptions for patients whose companions are needed for conduct of the visit.
- Waiting Rooms: We plan to minimize the number of patients in our waiting rooms though small, impactful changes. We have streamlined the check-in/out process and you may be asked complete some check-in functions online or over the phone, either from your home or from your car in the parking lot. You may be brought straight to an exam room. You may be asked to wait in your car and will receive a text message or call when we’re ready. The waiting room itself will have fewer chairs than normal. Finally, you should expect to be asked to use hand sanitizer during check-in.
- Scheduling: CRMA providers will alternate in-person and telemedicine visits, to reduce the density of patients within the office at any given time. Procedures will have extra time added in to allow for lower patient density and extra cleaning between patients. Walk-in services such as phlebotomy will be scheduled.
- Pre-Visit Covid-19 Test: CRMA’s Endoscopy center will require patients to have a Covid-19 test done within 48 hours prior to their procedure. The same may done for any service that requires you to take off your mask for a prolonged period of time, such as a stress test.
- Closed/Reduced Services: Some CRMA services are inherently difficult to operate safely, given the typical patient volume and layout of the office. Your physician may refer you to another provider of that service, such as the hospital.
- Off Hours Access: Screening tests such as mammograms will be done primarily on the weekends when there aren’t other CRMA Radiology services using the same space and we can ensure social distancing.
- Cleaning: CRMA staff have been trained on enhanced exam room cleaning protocols. All rooms will be cleaned and wiped down in between patients.
We are confident that the protocols above will allow us to serve you safely. Please be patient while we adapt to our new protocols. We don’t know how long this crisis will last but rest assured we will continue to monitor and modify our protocols in order to provide the excellence in patient care that you have come to expect. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your CRMA provider via phone or Patient Gateway.
Charles River Medical Associates