Ophthalmologists and COVID-19: #eyeheroes Patient Safety First

By August 6, 2020No Comments

#eyeheroes Series, Issue 4;

Throughout the country, ophthalmologists found creative ways to treat their patients and fight the spread of COVID-19. In this #eyeheroes story, we recognize the efforts of Dr. Tamara Wyse and her commitment to safe and consistent care during the pandemic.

Dr. Tamara Wyse
Wyse Eyecare

Dr. Tamara Wyse is a board-certified ophthalmologist in Northbrook, Illinois. She was one of the first doctors to perform laser cataract surgery on the Chicago North Shore and has shown a deep commitment to her practice and state-of-the-art care. Dr. Wyse is a diplomat of the American Board of Ophthalmology and has been named to the Castle Connolly Top Doctors list every year since 1983.

When COVID-19 spread to Chicago, Dr. Wyse and her team found themselves innovating and relying on technology to ensure that their patients had access to care. “We’ve always embraced advances in technology,” Dr. Wyse notes. “Our practice is equipped with leading-edge tools that help us diagnose and monitor eye disease, but we also offer a personalized, transparent patient experience. We spend time with our patients and get to know them as people. Our COVID-19 response combined both of these core values.”

Finding Solutions That Keep Patients and Medical Professionals Safe

Early on in the pandemic, Dr. Wyse followed the AAO guidelines and postponed non-emergency care. They took those six weeks to plan, prepare, and identify new challenges that faced her ophthalmology practice. They quickly identified some significant hurdles:

  • Patient fears: The team created a script that highlights all of the office’s protocols and systems that fight the spread of COVID-19. These processes are repeatedly emphasized before and during a patient’s appointment.
  • Limiting the number of people in the office: To reduce the risk, Dr. Wyse’s team opted to have only one doctor in the office at one time and identified ways to streamline these appointments, focusing on quality care.

Dr. Wyse was one of the earliest physicians to quickly started implementing systems that ensured that patients could get the eye care they needed while fighting the spread of COVID-19.

Wyse Eyecare Reopens Its Doors

On May 4, Dr. Wyse’s practice reopened its doors and welcomed back its patients. By then, the team had implemented a remarkable number of systems to keep everyone safe. They included:

  • “Drive-through” pressure checks for high-risk patients (Patients meet staff at a specified location and remain in their car, and a technician in PPE obtains a medical history, checks their vision with a near card, and assesses pressure with a tonopen. A physician calls the patient to follow up on the results.
  • Encouraging telemedicine appointments to limit in-person contact.
  • Staggered physician schedules to reduce the number of patients and staff in the office.
  • Pre-appointment phone screens for patients, aimed at identifying symptoms, risk factors, and exposures.
  • Detailed patient arrival procedures that reduce the number of people in the office.
  • Strict mask or facial covering requirements.
  • Temperatures checks for patients before entering the building
  • Strict cleaning procedures that carefully disinfect all exam room surfaces before and after an examination
  • Installing large plexiglass barriers on slit lamps and at the front, surgical scheduling, and checkout desks.
  • Eliminating paper patient routing documents and transitioning to only digital records.
  • Restructuring the waiting room to reduce the risk of viral spread and to encourage social distancing.

At every stage, Dr. Wyse and her team are focused on their patients. They constantly balance their desire to keep patients and themselves safe with their passion for exceptional, personalized care. “We’re giving people the treatment and time they need, but we’re doing it efficiently and thoughtfully,” says Dr. Wyse.

Finally, she notes that her office’s success has been a team effort. “Our biggest asset throughout this pandemic has been a very dedicated and diligent staff with excellent team leaders and a very proactive office administrator,” comments Dr. Wyse. “Our patients have repeatedly expressed their confidence in our processes and voiced their appreciation. I’m grateful for our staff’s commitment to safety and our patients.”