April 22, 2020
To all our patients, friends, and colleagues,
It is truly mindboggling how much your life, your family, your community and society as a whole can change in one day. March 14 was the beginning of the drastic changes in our lives due to the Covid 19 virus. There is much we have learned since the pandemic, but there is so much more we do not know yet. What we do know is that the present restrictions have made a difference, we have been able to “stunt” the spread of the coronavirus and decrease fatalities, and we are close to developing a vaccine as well as adequate testing materials to control this disease. As we see the number of cases and fatalities “flatten out” we are seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel” and are planning for the next step – starting the process of reopening society. What exactly that “new normal” will be no one knows, and it is common sense that this return to normal will be and should be a slow gradual process. We are in constant contact with the Abington Surgical Center regarding reopening and are actively planning with the center how this will happen. The surgical center has remained open but only for urgent cases (i.e. cancer or cancer related procedures) and has continued its rigorous decontamination process of its facilities and operating rooms to ensure as safe an operative environment as possible.
We continue to implement and follow the guidelines and mandates issues by the Governors of the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well as the local counties of our practice locations. Governor Wolf in Pennsylvania has extended the restrictions on elective surgical procedures until May 8, and Governor Murphy has an indefinite restriction. Our medical practice is considered essential, and we remain open to provide emergency care for our patients and offer virtual consults for your convenience during these trying times. To protect our staff, our Flemington office remains temporarily closed. We are staffing the Doylestown office on a limited schedule of 10 am to 3pm Tuesday and Thursday until the restrictions are lifted so you can talk to or even see a real person (only if needed of course). For those of our patients who have had their appointments or operations cancelled, we are well aware what this impact has made on your life and will do our best to get your visits or operation rescheduled. We are working with the Abington Surgical Center on a process for rescheduling patients who have had their procedure cancelled due to the pandemic to try and avoid any significant delays if possible.
As always, you can reach us in an emergency by calling our main office number 215-230-4013. If we are not staffing the phones, please follow directions to leave me an emergency message and I will get back to you as soon as possible – the office phones are linked to my phone after hours and if the lines are busy. DO NOT text or email me for emergencies – I do not check texts or emails continuously, and these are not HIPPA compliant means of communication.
We are actively preparing our offices for reopening! Our office and exam rooms have been thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated, and the waiting areas provide a minimum of 6 feet distancing between chairs to provide adequate social distancing. Our exam rooms and all contact surfaces are decontaminated after each patient visit. We comply with all Federal and State guidelines and will require that patients and our staff in the office wear masks, and patients will be screened by the staff for coronavirus exposure prior to being seen. Patients will be scheduled for office visits at specific times and appointment lengths so we can maximize social distancing – patients will be taken to an exam room once they are checked into the office and screened by our staff. This is meant to minimize patient exposure to public areas.
We will do our best to maximize your scheduled appointment time with office information, forms as well as educational videos on our website. This allows us to spend adequate time with each patient’s scheduled visit – there is nothing worse than showing up for a doctor’s appointment and finding out the doctor is an hour behind, the waiting room is full and you have other commitments. We have three separate waiting areas in the Doylestown office, plus you are welcome to wait in your car and we will call you when it is time to come in to your appointment. We are offering virtual consultations and visits now in addition to “in person” visits – you can schedule either by calling the office number or filling out a “virtual consult request” online via the website. We are enhancing our communication systems to improve our methods of communications and means of communication with you, even text message notifications from the office if you choose to opt in.
We are asking patients to limit the number of people who come with you for your office visit. Only the patient will be allowed back into an exam room. If you do want to have a “second set of ears” present, we do have a conference room available for the information gathering part of your consult or preop appointment, or you can schedule an initial virtual consult.
We ask that everyone use common sense – remember those things your mother always told you to do? Stay away from sick people, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands! Do not come to the office if you are sick, someone in your household is sick, or you have possibly been exposed to someone with the COV – 2 virus. And you need to wait a minimum of 2 weeks before we will see you in the office, or if you or someone else you were exposed to a Covid 19 positive patient. Maintain social distancing of 6 feet minimum in public, wash your hands often and try not to touch your face. Any patient that needs to be seen (i.e. postoperative patient to remove drains, postoperative patient with a potential issue related to their procedure for example) will be seen by a physician and receive appropriate care. If you are scheduled for a procedure, make sure you stay healthy ( minimize contact with people, wash your hands, practice healthy lifestyles and limit your stress), have all your medical clearances and lab studies in order and most likely you will need to furnish test results that show you do not have the Covid 19 virus. We are working with the Abington Surgical Center regarding testing protocols prior to elective procedures. Expect that you will have to prove you are not infected with the COV 2 virus to undergo an elective procedure.
The safety and health or our staff, patients and community has always been a priority for Buinewicz Plastic Surgery and will continue to be through this crisis. We will keep you informed of any changes as they occur, and we are so looking forward to seeing you back in the office healthy and safe!
Annie and Brian Buinewicz, M.D.