Reproductive Health Center, Tucson, Arizona

Hutchison’s Huddle: What to Expect at Our Office During COVID-19

It’s the time our patients have been anxiously waiting for–we are slowly reopening our office and resuming fertility treatments! While we are excited to see you all again and help you meet your fertility goals, our office is going to look a little bit different than it did before COVID-19 hit. At the end of the day, our goal is to keep our patients and our staff safe. Because of this, we have put into place some new protocols for visiting our office such as different hours, wearing masks, and limiting the amount of people inside the office. Dr. Hutchison answered your questions and shared what you can expect at your next visit at Reproductive Health Center in his latest Hutchison’s Huddle.

Watch the full Huddle below or on Facebook.

Hey, this is Dr. Scot Hutchison for another Hutchison’s Huddle. Today is May 26, 2020. And we’re all in the thick of the COVID stuff going on. So I hope you’re all safe and happy. 

The story is–I think that for fertility patients in particular, this has been incredibly anxiety-provoking. And so we have, and a lot of other practices, have proceeded to go ahead and reopen and allow people to do fertility treatment. But the rules have kind of changed and to try to make things safer, we’ve made several changes. And that may be different and if you’re in a different location, they may be practicing things a little bit differently and maybe we’re taking a bridge too far and overdoing things, but I’ll tell you about how we do it. 

First, before I forget, my friend David Carnevale, who is not only a fine reproductive endocrinologist and pelvic surgeon in Indianapolis, who was fellowship with me is a fantastic cook and he has put together a YouTube channel which you should definitely check out! And it is called Pizza Doctor the way I found it–when I went back to go find his cooking program–I put in Pizza Doctor Beginning Pizza and he’s got several others, like I think he does a braciole or something in there. But honestly, his instruction for how to make really good gourmet Italian pizza and he’s a great cook, as well as being a great doctor. And he put in a lot of production value into showing you how to make healthy pizza. So I would encourage you to check that out if you have a hankering for pizza and you haven’t been able to get out on your own. I think you’ll really like it.

Anyway, what we’re doing here at Reproductive Health Center is– we’re all getting COVID testing before the start of IVF cycles and midway through. And that’s what we’re doing with our patients as well. Overall, the spread of COVID and if you haven’t looked it up, look up the Erin Bromage. Dr. Erin Bromage, he is a neurologist and he teaches in Florida and I really found his blog posts to be especially enlightening about transmission of COVID as being mostly a droplet borne illness and, you know, length of exposure in a room and close confines and all that really make a huge difference.

So the way we are doing patient care as well as it’s only one patient in the office at a time, so we don’t want people being able to be in close proximity. We have been able to do that, I think like the dentist, by sometimes just extending hours out so that we don’t have to have as many people in. We try to run on time. We try to minimize discussions in the office so that we can do that. Patients come to the office at their time, they call to let us know that we’re here. Then they come in the office wearing a mask. If they don’t have one, we go ahead and give them one and make sure they’re wearing it correctly. And then they can empty their bladder, wash their hands. And then the room that they’re going into has been sanitized on all the surfaces, and so forth. And then we will repeat that throughout the day. We also do temperature checks on everybody coming in. I don’t know how really useful that is. I think that the–you hear stories about people if they’re just standing in the sunshine and you take their temperature, it can be 103. But regardless, if people are feeling ill or they’re ill, then we are not going to let them in the office. Obviously, that puts a wrinkle in there for us as well, because, you know, patients invest a lot of time and money into doing an IVF cycle. And if one of us gets sick, it could throw everything apart. So you’ll need to be aware of that. Also, our anesthesiology–anesthesia is in relatively short supply in Tucson here. And the anesthesiologist who had been scheduled to do our cases had to have emergency surgery. Luckily, we were able to dip into a recently semi retired colleague, and she was able to come in and do our anesthesia. But you know, if the people who are immediately in proximity to you are getting ill, then they’re not going to be able to be in here, and so those IVF cycles will–and insemination cycles–will have to be cancelled. 

Is my partner able to come to the testing with me or should they remain at home? We’re telling everybody to have the partner remain at home or out in the car. Obviously around here, it gets hot in the summer so we don’t want to leave people just sitting in a hot car. But we have patients bring along their telephone and if they want to, you know, FaceTime their ultrasound or exam with partner, that is perfectly fine so that we can actually show them what is going on. 

Are you doing telemedicine consults and why? Well, I am loving this telemedicine thing! I think it is fantastic because we actually have a little more time to go over all the lifestyle stuff, I feel like I get their history better. It’s also incredibly–it seems like it’s incredibly less anxiety-provoking for people if they have that first visit in the comfort of their own home or office, and then they’ll come in for their physical exam and pelvic ultrasound. And it’s just, it just seems to be a lot less anxiety producing for patients. And I feel like we’re getting a better initial history and physical than than we used to do. So I’m kind of like, you know, what’s not to like?! It takes a little more time, but I think it is fantastic. And it’s nice because these folks can just be sitting on their couch and petting their dog and you know, and then we can get this work done. 

So again, look at that Erin Bromage–wearing masks is really super important with all this. You know, there’s vagaries with testing, there’s vagaries with reporting clearly because if the hospital gets to declare COVID death as being able to be reimbursed for more money, that would create incentive to label everybody as COVID death. But regardless of that, I was looking at the stats today, and the United States has about 328 million people. South Korea has about 52 million people. We’ve had now 1.6 million cases. South Korea, a lot of these Asian countries, they’ve been wearing face masks for a long time just out in public, so they kind of have gotten used to it. But instead of having 1.6 million cases, they now had about 11,000-12,000. The United States, we’re pushing 100,000 dead. South Koreans are at 267. So proportionality is huge here. And I would just encourage you to wear masks and avoid being indoors with a lot of people with a lot of yelling, coughing, singing. So, you know, things like choir practices, sports events, I think we’re going to really need to kind of rethink those. Certainly, if you have to be in that sort of environment, I would definitely wear a mask. And people are doing things differently. You know, our daughter is an attorney back in DC and her firm is just working from home, which I think is the best thing you can do because they really don’t need to be in meetings. But then I talked to another attorney today, who’s here in town and they’re all back in the office like it’s okay and sitting in these conference rooms and being kind of close together, you know, don’t. That’s just not right. 

So anyway, if you have any other questions about it, then give us a ring and then check out our other Hutchison’s Huddles with some of my co-workers talking about different topics such as endometriosis and all fertility topics and IVF and all that kind of stuff.

Take good care of yourselves and hopefully, we will see down the road here for another Huddle. And again check out my friend David’s Pizza Doctor – Beginner’s Pizza on his YouTube channel. Have a great night and thanks for tuning in!

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