DOH encouraging return to doctor’s offices, what changes you may see


HONOLULU (KHON2) — As more businesses reopen, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) is urging people to consider heading back to the doctors office.

One group the DOH is focusing on, with school getting back in session in two months, is children and teens. The Department of Health is recommending that children catch up on their physical exams and vaccinations.

“The last thing we need in the middle of a pandemic is another outbreak of measles or mumps or some other infectious disease,” said Dr. Steven Hankins, lead coordinator, HI-EMA Public Health and Medical Services (Emergency Support Function 8).

This goes for adults who may need vaccines as well. Hankins said they’re expecting a rise in appointments since many haven’t been in for routine checkups for weeks.

“We are playing some catch up in terms of services,” said Hankins. “As offices return to the new normal, and (with) more patient volume in general, it’s going to get harder to get appointment times.”

However, doctor visits may be a lot different than you remember.

“When you come in, they might be checking your temperature earlier than they normally did… in your usual screening they may be asking you about symptoms related to COVID before you even enter the office,” said Hankins.

Similar to grocery stores, kupuna may also get to enter doctor’s offices before others.

“Many offices have been rearranging the schedule of their day so that folks that are more vulnerable to the more severe effects of COVID-19, they’ll try to bring in (those) folks earlier in the day, when there’s less people there and less people have been through the office,” said Hankins.

At Doctors of Waikiki, you can see some of the changes as soon as you walk in. There are markings on the floor encouraging people to keep 6 feet apart and there are fewer chairs in the waiting room. Also, while walk-ins are accepted, appointments are preferred. Depending on the patient and their symptoms, they might not even need to step foot in the building.

“Many things that we do sometimes don’t require physical touch and so in those circumstances, I think it’s a lot safer to do telemedicine if that’s what they’re requesting,” said Dr. Tony Trpkovski, Doctors of Waikiki.

If a patient is coughing or showing other forms of respiratory illness, Doctors of Waikiki has made changes for that as well.

“So that way, in case it is corona, they’re only in these two rooms we set up to do it that way and then we wear (personal protective equipment) not only mask and gloves, we’ll wear like a face shield… and a gown,” said Trpkovski.

Dr. Steven Hankins said people should always call their doctor before showing up, especially if they have COVID-like symptoms  like shortness of breath and fever.

He also recommends, once you’re at your doctor’s office, to get a prescription supply for two to four weeks for hurricane season as well.

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