With Phase II of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to gradually reopen the state reaching its first week of implementation, Spring-Klein-area health care providers continue to adapt as they get back to business.
According to Daniel Krenz of Spring Smiles Dental Group and Orthodontics, at the onset of the pandemic in late March, the clinic was required to scale back its services and staff to accommodate only emergency cases.
Starting two weeks ago, however, Krenz said the clinic, located on FM 2920, has been able to resume normal services while operating at 25% capacity in accordance with Abbott’s phased reopening plan.
“We are open for cleanings and checkups and things like that, just at a limited capacity rule, so we're much less busy than we're used to,” Krenz said. “We're just trying to figure out how to operate differently because it's just a whole different realm now.”
Krenz said the clinic has had to implement new standards to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for staff and patients. Beyond adding disposable gowns and face shields to the staff dress code, the clinic now encourages social distancing by asking patients to wait in their vehicles until the time of their appointment, which reduces the number of chairs in the waiting room. The clinic is also encouraging patients to wear masks in the office.
“We've always been on top of hand-washing and sanitation, of course, but it's put an uptick on everything that we're doing in that regard,” Krenz said.
Even though the clinic is taking in fewer patients than it was prior to the pandemic, Krenz said he still urges patients to utilize dental clinics that are open for business.
“I definitely encourage anybody that has a dental emergency to go to the dentist and not to emergency rooms so that they're not taking up space in an emergency room for something that they aren’t really equipped to handle anyway," he said.
Similarly, Mohamad Syed, head optician at Louetta Family Vision Care in Spring, said the optometry office was prompted to reopen early May as a result of reduced income following a monthlong closure.
“To be honest, it was a matter of only having so much financial stability at the time to provide for the employees and the business,” Syed said.
Syed said the center is now working to safely accommodate patients and staff by requiring those in the office to wear face coverings, maintaining social distance and accepting clients by appointment only.
“Most of our patients have been very understanding, and they've been pretty eager to come in and get their vision taken care of," he said.
Pediatric centers, such as the Pediatric & Adolescent Clinic located at 5834 Louetta Road, Spring, have also implemented social distancing guidelines to reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19 for patients and staff. According to the PAC Medical Assistant Mireya Trejo, patients and staff at Pediatric & Adolescent Clinic are asked to wear face masks and to maintain social distance by staying in their cars until it is time for their appointment.
Trejo said the clinic now also offers telemedicine services to accommodate patients who may be hesitant to visit the center in person, despite the health precautions that have been put in place.
“If they don't have to come in, they try to prevent coming in if it's not needed,” Trejo said. “Even if they're needing a well visit, they'd just prefer to wait it out.”