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As Phase I for reopening Ohio begins, some doctor's offices slow to reopen

Optometrist's office
Posted at 10:37 PM, May 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 09:40:53-04

Starting Monday, Ohio will enter Phase I of Governor DeWine's plan to reopen the state. Although they've been allowed to reopen since Friday, many physicians have waited to reopen and plan to start the process slowly and with plenty of caution.

Reopening medical offices will require constantly sanitizing surfaces, wearing masks and still maintaining social distancing when possible -- not an easy feat for every physician to manage in their respective offices.

"It's going to be a new world," said Dr. Mark Hagee, an optometrist with Ritter and Hagee Optometrists. "It's definitely not going to be business as usual."

Hagee said their plan is to limit access to the office entirely, having patients fill out medical history forms outside, in their cars, before they enter the office. They'll also be taking patient temperatures and screening all visitors for COVID-19 symptoms, he said.

Perhaps the biggest challenge will be using the technology available to them to keep their distance from patients during eye exams.

"You can evaluate the internal contents of the eye quite well just by sitting at a computer," said Hagee. "We can see the entire retina just with that."

The office is currently in the process of rescheduling around 1,000 appointments, expanding their hours to six days a week just to fit in all the appointments. These appointments, however, will only involve one doctor in the office at a time, to minimize the number of people in the space.

"I am quite apprehensive about it," said Hagee. "It's a whole different way of examining patients. It really is."

Dr. Jon Mendelsohn, medical director of Advanced Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Center, echoed the sentiment. While they opened their Rookwood offices on Friday, he said he and his team are certainly anxious about the reopen.

They're not seeing patients yet, but once Gov. DeWine does allow elective surgeries to continue, Mendelsohn already has a plan.

Starting Tuesday, he said, he plans to offer COVID-19 antibody testing to all his patients and staff.

"I think there is a lot of fear out there," he said. "We want to be able to offer that service as well just to help people recognize maybe they've already been infected."

Once they're permitted to serve their patients again, they plan to ask patients to be tested for COVID-19 around 72 hours before their scheduled treatment or surgery.