COVID-19 Information

Reopening Information

Yesterday, Governor Northam announced he will not extend the Order of Public Health Emergency Two which he signed on March 25 which temporarily banned all elective procedures (that require PPE) at Virginia physician offices and will be allowed to expire by midnight tonight. Based on the Governor’s action, doctors of optometry can resume essential patient care beyond emergencies. Doctors should evaluate the necessity of the care based on clinical needs and prioritize care and high-complexity chronic disease management; however, select preventive services may also be highly necessary.

Please understand and consider the AOA has confirmed twice with the CDC COVID-19 Response Division that the CDC’s March 17 recommendation to postpone routine eye care is no longer in affect and that CMS’s specific guidance on reopening facilities takes precedent. This is not an allowance to pre-COVID business as usual. You are responsible for keeping your patients and staff as safe as possible. With that in mind, the VOA suggests you only open your doors once you have the proper PPE and protocols in place to do so safely and responsibly. Please read and understand the posted CMS, AOA, and VOA guidelines on reopening your office. Please feel free to reach out to the VOA Office for any further questions.


FAQ

Do we have to wait until we are in Phase 1 before we open?

In Virginia, optometry is an “essential” business.  As such, your office does not have to wait for Phase 1 to see non-emergency care now that the Governor has allowed his Executive Order of Public Health #2 to expire midnight April 30 provided you abide by the CMS Guidance on Reopening.

Does the VOA have any PPE resources available?

A: The VOA does not have any PPE to give to members; however, PPE can be found on our PPE Resources page. Also, you should sign up for the AOA GPO which may be getting PPE soon. We are also in contact with local and state emergency offices for PPE guidance.


 

CMS Guidance on Reopening

AOA Guide on Reopening

VOA - The Path Forward - Guidance to Resuming Practice


Sample Reopening Checklist

Please see above for the VOA's full Guidance to Resuming Practice

PPE

  • Masks for all employees, N95 or KN95 recommended1
  • Cloth or surgical masks for all patients. Have surgical masks available for emergencies, but consider rescheduling if patients cannot bring their own.1
  • Hand sanitizer for staff and patients. Consider having patients either wash hands or use hand sanitizer upon entrance into office. (optional)
  • Breath shields for slit lamp (optional)
  • Eye shields (optional)

Cleaning Protocol

  • Disinfectant for equipment, door knobs, etc. Purchase or make your own using 1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water and let stand 1 minute.1
  • Disinfect all eyewear if a patient tries them on.3
    • Dish soap and water, 50/50 hydrogen peroxide bath, alcohol, or UV sanitation can work.

Personnel / Patient Flow

  • Screen staff before each work day1
  • Pre-screen patients before they arrive1
  • Take patient temperature upon arrival and note in chart2
  • Continue telemedicine encounters whenever possible1
  • Use contactless payments if possible (pay online or Apple Pay, etc)
  • Limit in-office encounters to patients only or 1 parent/guardian for adolescents.1
  • Social distance enforcement for staff and patients at all times in the office.1

Note: enforcing usage of all PPE for staff and patients is up to each practice's discretion, but to reduce your liability, please read and understand the guidance documents from CDC, CMS, AOA, and VOA.

  1.  https://www.cms.gov/files/document/covid-flexibility-reopen-essential-non-covid-services.pdf
  2. https://www.thevoa.org/files/COVID-19/the_path_forward_to_restart.pdf
  3. https://www.aoa.org/Documents/COVID-19/AOA-Guidance-for-Re-Opening-Practices_COVID-19.pdf

The following slides may assist Optometry offices in seeing urgent patients during COVID.  posted with permission from Tusculum University

Avoiding Viral Transmission


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Phone: (804) 643-0309
Fax: (804) 643-0311

All doctor members of the Virginia Optometric Association are licensed to practice Optometry in Virginia.
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