Being a Medical Receptionist in a COVID-19 World
Medical communities all over the country are adjusting to the Coronavirus pandemic. Administrators and physician owners have had to change the way care is provided in offices and facilities almost overnight. Employers at large have had to make excruciating decisions regarding employees, finances, and closing business altogether. During this unprecedented time, people are filled with uncertainty, anxiety, stress, and hope regarding everything that is happening now and what is to come. As a part of the healthcare community, Medical Receptionists are very much a part of the frontline in many places. The responsibilities and risks associated with being a front desk or front office employee have expanded.
Medical Receptionists are the first people to set patients up for an appointment whether it be over the phone or in person. Phone triage has been more important in decision making regarding who may enter a medical office and under what conditions. Receptionists are also adjusting to the increase or adoption of telemedicine practices. Receptionists are now asking more specific questions so they can make the right decision on what happens next for the patient. Before the specifics and severity of the Coronavirus became well-known, receptionists were checking in people as normal and that doesn’t always allow for a 6ft distance between them or them taking more protective measures. Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources have provided specific guidelines and resources, offices and healthcare facilities have been able to make better accommodations and adjustments in the offices to protect staff and patients.
Management of healthcare services and access is the priority right now to focus on the many people that have become ill due to COVID-19 exposure. Lack of PPE and other necessary equipment and staff has posed a great hardship on the people working to save lives daily.
Those of you who have been fortunate enough to retain employment at this time are most likely dealing with another set of concerns. Childcare, being exposed and potentially exposing family members to the virus, uncertainty about finances due to a spouse or family unable to work, lack of support from management in some cases, and job security. You may be worried about family and friends who are alone or far away. You may have parents/grandparents in long term care who you are unable to visit. The list could go on and on. Remember you are only one person and you can only focus on so many things at one time. Take moments for yourself, even just a few minutes to decompress and breathe. Do what you can, when you can. Make the decisions that are best for you and your family. Follow the hygiene guidelines when returning home from work. It is hard to stay positive when it feels like things are falling apart. It’s okay to feel how you feel but try to keep as much normalcy and faith as you can.
If you have lost your job or been furloughed due to the reduction of staff or your facility closing temporarily, make sure you know the specifics of the changes. Your management or HR should be able to provide specifics regarding your health insurance, retirement plans, and PTO and other accrued time. If you need to apply for unemployment benefits don’t wait until the last minute. The systems are overwhelmed with millions out of work. It may be frustrating but review the requirements for your state and take the steps needed. There will come a time where you will return to your employer or have to seek new employment. You may want to dust off and update your resume to be prepared.
Medical Receptionist, Medical Secretaries, and Unit Secretaries have been providing support to their clinical teams not only with phones and registration of patients but also with keeping the office sanitized. Some places are working with skeleton crews and require all hands on deck to keep up with demand and standards. Waiting rooms have been cleared of items that could pose more of a risk to patients and families who touch them. Hand sanitizer and masks are more widely required and being used to help reduce the chance of spread. Your actions and dedication are needed to keep healthcare facilities functioning in an organized manner, you help facilitate the communication between patients and providers and providers and other specialists in a timely fashion.
We are all in this together. Support one another at work and at home. Follow the guidelines to keep you and your family safe.
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