In recent months, medical offices in South Carolina and across the nation have implemented enhanced safety protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Measures from pre-screening patients for symptoms and limiting the number of people allowed in the office at the same time to increased deep cleaning and requiring personal protective equipment all have become commonplace.
The Facial Surgery Center in Charleston opened for elective surgeries about two weeks later than most plastic surgery practices because Dr. Marcelo Hochman took extraordinary measures to protect patients and staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Hochman installed commercial UV light sterilizing equipment and air scrubbers in the office’s treatment rooms and operating room. By drawing air from a room and passing it through four medical-grade filters, the air scrubbers can remove particles 100 times smaller than what is achieved with ordinary air filtration technology and 10 times smaller than the size of viruses, he said. The equipment exchanges the air in the room several times an hour.
The industrial UV light sterilizing equipment in each treatment room, the common areas and the restrooms disinfects by breaking down the genetic structure of viruses and bacteria. The equipment is not commonly found in physicians’ offices.
“Between patients, the rooms are cleaned, and then the UV light gets turned on,” Dr. Hochman said. “We’re just taking every measure we can to make it as safe as possible.”
The Facial Surgery Center also placed sticky mats at the entrance to treatment rooms to remove debris and impurities from the bottoms of shoes.
Dr. Hochman’s practice has been open since the beginning of the pandemic to treat migraine patients and non-elective cases. To keep patients and staff safe, he implemented measures that have now become expected from physicians’ offices. Those included asking patients a series of questions about their health and symptoms during appointment confirmation calls, taking patients’ temperatures with a touchless thermometer before they entered the office and providing masks for everyone at no charge. The schedule was modified to allow more time between patients to limit potential interactions and to perform deep cleaning.
From the early days of the pandemic and continuing today, The Facial Surgery Center has invested in testing staff members for the coronavirus, Hochman said. Patients undergoing surgery or facial treatments also are nasal-swab tested for the coronavirus as part of their pre-op, Dr. Hochman said.
“If I were going to have surgery or treatment at an office, I’d want to make sure that the people who are treating me are safe and also that I’m not exposing myself to the virus,” Dr. Hochman said.
Since it’s impossible for Dr. Hochman to social distance during consultations and treatment – and to set an example – he personally wears appropriate protective equipment.
Dr. Hochman said he believes patients will look to see what physicians’ offices are doing to protect them as a criterion for selecting a doctor.
“I wanted to make sure that we could in good faith tell patients that, to the best of our ability, we’ve done everything that is reasonable, maybe beyond reasonable, to protect them and to protect ourselves,” Dr. Hochman said. “We’re taking whatever measures we can to make it as safe as possible. I think people will expect all the things we’re doing. I certainly would expect that for my family when we have to go see somebody.”
For more information, visit www.facialsugerycenter.com or call 843-571-4742.
By Cindy Landrum