It looks like New Zealand may have dodged the worst of the Covid 19 bullet, and here at the Wellington Eye Centre we are looking forward to getting back to something approaching normal. However, it has become obvious over the last couple of months that people can carry the virus but have no symptoms. This means that we must still take precautions; even though there are very few new cases occurring in New Zealand and the rate of community transmission appears to be low.
At the Eye Centre our number one priority is ensuring the safety of our patients and our staff. This short article will let you know what we are doing and what we are asking you to do when you come to see us over the next few weeks.
What we are doing
Once we go to Level 2, we are planning to restart our normal activities. This includes seeing new patients, carrying out follow-up visits and performing laser eye surgery procedures such as LASIK and SMILE.
We will contact you 48 hours before the scheduled appointment to make sure that you are well and have no symptoms of ill health. In order to maintain social distancing we are doubling the time between seeing patients. This will mean it is unlikely that there will be more than two patients in the clinic at a time. So there will be plenty of room to stay away from other people! We will also have clear screens installed at our reception desks, designed to protect us from each other.
As always, the Doctor and Optometrist will be using hand sanitiser before and after they see you. They will also be wearing N95 masks while seeing you. Instruments and surfaces will be cleaned in front of you with alcohol wipes before being used. We will be using single use, disposable eye drop containers to reduce the risk of possible cross contamination.
Unfortunately, we cannot make the coffee machine or water dispenser available at the present time.
What we need you to do
There are a couple of other things we will ask you to do to keep us all safe, most of this will be familiar to you by now. Firstly, if you are at all unwell, please let us know before your visit. In most cases we will be able to reschedule your appointment in the near future. If you have a serious or acute eye problem, we will make special arrangements to see you at a more appropriate time.
If you are over 70, frail or immunocompromised we would ask you also to reschedule any appointments. We will keep in touch with you and can carry out phone consultations if necessary. We can organise prescriptions for eye drops and medications to be faxed to your nearest pharmacy.
When you come in for your appointment, we would like you to come unaccompanied by anyone else such as family or friends. This is to limit the number of people in the clinic at any one time. If this is impossible or unacceptable for you, please discuss it with clinic staff before you arrive. When your appointment has finished, a staff member can contact your support person to meet you outside the building in Garrett Street. If you are uncomfortable travelling on the lift alone, a staff member can accompany you.
When you arrive at the clinic on Level 4, there will be hand sanitiser immediately outside the lift for you to use. We will also give you a disposable face mask which we would ask you to wear while you are in the clinic. Please sanitise your hands before taking a mask.
During your consultation
While you are having your consultation with Doctor Logan or Shannon, your experience will be very much the same as it would be in normal times. However, testing vision, and eye examination requires the eye care provider to stand closer than one metre from you. For this reason, we would ask you to please avoid talking during the examination unless requested to do so. You will be able to ask questions and discuss things once normal social distancing is in place.
Laser eye surgery
We will have additional precautions in place on top of our already high hygiene standards for laser eye surgery. Doctor Logan will be wearing an additional disposable surgical gown, and the nurse and theatre technician will be wearing disposable plastic aprons. We will also ask you to wear a disposable face mask during your procedure. If you think that this will cause you additional stress or anxiety, please discuss this with staff prior to your procedure.
We hope you are okay with these precautions. If you have any concerns whatsoever about your upcoming visit to see us, please do not hesitate to contact us by email or phone. We look forward to seeing you.