COVID-19 has forced many practitioners to shut down their medical practices. Some practitioners have pivoted to telehealth to continue to provide care, which has helped soften the blow on business. However, without a steady influx of new patients, practitioners are left wondering how much longer they can survive. As practices slowly reopen, practitioners will need to rethink operations to ensure the safety and well-being of their staff and patients. As a medical office rental space, WellnessSpace is implementing specific measures to protect its members and visitors. Refer to our COVID-19 Updates for more information. Here are six tips on how to operate medical office rental space during COVID-19:
1) Ask your landlord to defer rent for the next few months
It’s more important than ever for landlords and tenants to work together. If you’re renting medical office space and think you might miss rent payments in the future, don’t wait until the last minute to tell your landlord. Giving them a long enough advance notice will make it easier to work out a solution that is mutually beneficial and will show that your request is sincere.
If your landlord is unwilling to defer your rent, ask to have your rent reduced over the next three or so months and offer to repay the remainder over a specified period of time. Whatever you’re ultimately able to negotiate, make sure you get it in writing and signed by all parties involved!
2) Increase frequency of cleaning
Let’s face it – while we’ll eventually return to our normal routines, the way in which we interact with others and our environment will change for the foreseeable future. The pandemic has made everyone more sensitive to cleanliness. To minimize the spread of germs, it’s important to clean heavy-use surfaces multiple times a day and thoroughly disinfect your entire space at least once a day. Provide readily available access to hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes (yes, they’re still hard to find), and require staff and colleagues to wipe down surfaces before and after use.
If your building’s janitorial staff normally does the cleaning, ask your landlord what additional measures they’re taking to ensure all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned. You may need to hire a cleaning company to supplement the landlord’s efforts.
3) Institute a mandatory face mask policy
In this new world we live in, it’s imperative that your staff and colleagues are wearing protective masks at all times to protect themselves and those around them. Fortunately, a growing number of states around the country have instituted mandatory face mask policies with significant penalties for violators – so hopefully you won’t have to remind people to wear them. It won’t be long before clinics start issuing branded face masks to their staff, as an extension of their standard uniforms. And who knows – face masks could soon become fashion statements!
4) Implement social distancing rules
Social distancing will continue to be the most effective way to limit the spread of the virus going forward. If your practice has multiple employees, consider staggering their hours to limit the number of employees working at the same time. If possible, allow employees to work from home a few days a week.
As for your patients, ask them to stay in their cars or outside the building until their scheduled appointment time. Schedule as few appointments as possible within a given hour to minimize patients overlapping. Consider scheduling one patient at a time. Anyone that is in your space should do their best to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. Discourage handshakes, and encourage waves, air fives, and warm smiles!
5) Encourage employees to take ownership of their own safety and those around them
Foster open communication between management and employees about health and workplace safety. Empower employees to voice concerns about their health, without fearing for their job security. Employees who have symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) should notify management, stay home, and self-isolate. Employees who have someone sick at home should notify management and follow CDC recommended precautions.
Tell employees to regularly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Ask them to avoid using other employees’ desks, phones, and work tools. Clean and disinfect before and after each use. Remember – in order for you to successfully operate your medical office space during COVID-19, your entire staff will need to pitch in.
6) Check temperatures regularly
Check all employees for fever at the start of their shifts each day (and perhaps again mid-shift), and check all patients as they arrive. The CDC considers a reading of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above a fever. Consider a non-contact infrared thermometer for a quick reading. Keep in mind that a fever does not necessarily mean a person is infected with COVID-19. On the flip side, not everyone with COVID-19 develops a fever and some people are asymptomatic. A fever is just one of many symptoms of COVID-19. Refer to the CDC Symptoms of Coronavirus.
If you found this blog post on how to operate your medical office rental space during COVID-19 helpful, please share with your practitioner friends!
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