Dean McGee Eye Institute’s COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Everyone here at the Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI) cares about your safety, and we understand that you may have some concerns about appointments and/or procedures scheduled with us. We would like to take the time to share what we are doing to protect our patients and caregivers and explain some new policies that we have put in place during this unprecedented time.

Here’s What DMEI is Doing to Protect Our Patients

First, we are constantly reviewing information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OU Medicine, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, and other major ophthalmology departments in the United States. This information is updated daily, so we are staying on top of the latest news. With that said, here are precautions that we are taking:

Screening Patients When Scheduling and Checking-In

If you call to make an appointment or arrive for an appointment, you will be asked a series of questions that are meant to establish your risk of having been exposed to COVID-19 or if you might have active symptoms. The questions will concern recent travel, personal exposure, and common symptoms (for example, fever, cough, chills, and other respiratory symptoms). A temperature also will be taken with a forehead thermometer. Based on answers to these questions and/or suggestion of a fever, the appointment may need to be rescheduled.

Adding Breath Shields to Our Slit Lamps

A slit lamp is a magnifying device commonly used to examine a patient’s eyes but which requires the doctor and patient to be facing each other. The breath shield places a barrier between the doctor and patient while still allowing the eye examination to continue.

Limiting Visitors with Patients

We are limiting the number of visitors pediatric patients can have accompanying them to just one per patient. Adult patients cannot have visitors with them in the reception areas or examination lanes (except under extenuating circumstances). The policy is intended to provide additional safeguards for our patients, families, visitors, caregivers, doctors, and staff through decreased exposure to individuals who may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Depending on the course of COVID-19, more stringent limitations on visits and visitors could become necessary. For example, every patient, visitor, and employee now wears a mask while in the Institute.

Scheduling and Counseling Over the Phone

We are recommending that patients handle some matters over the phone when they can. This can include financial counseling, surgery scheduling, and more. Simply call about your appointment, and we would be happy to guide you.

Following Safety Principles Encouraged by the CDC

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, so the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. This is why we are encouraging everyone to adopt the following safety precautions recommended by the CDC.

Proper Handwashing

Doctors recommend washing your hands many times a day, particularly before and after certain activities. It is one of the quickest, simplest, and best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of disease to others. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth throughout the day.

Practice Social Distancing

Avoid crowded public areas, gatherings, waiting rooms, public transportation, and events with over 10 people. (At DMEI, we have removed more than half of the chairs from the main reception areas, placed markers on the floors, and limited the number of elevator passengers to achieve more social distancing.) When going out into public, stay at least six feet from others when possible.

Stay Home If You Feel Sick

If you are experiencing symptoms, have a fever, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you should stay home and consult with your primary care provider. 

As a reminder, here is more information about how the virus is spread and the symptoms it can cause.

How Does the Virus Spread?

The virus spreads between people who come in close contact with each other. COVID-19 affects the respiratory system, and is spread through droplets from a cough or sneeze. The droplets can be inhaled directly or land on a surface where they can be touched, facilitating the spread of the virus.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, and sudden loss of smell. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor for medical advice. You can learn more about symptoms and what to do if you are sick with COVID-19 by visiting the CDC website.

In these uncertain times, it is important that we all do our part to protect our patients, our health care personnel, our families, and our communities. Please contact us if you have any questions about your appointments or our updated policies.