Best Practices For Essential Business

     In an effort to stop the spread of Coronavirus, Greeneville Physician Theo Hensley has prepared a list of best practices for conducting essential business.

     Dr. Hensley shared these best practices Friday in an online group meeting with Greeneville and Greene County elected officials and business leaders.

     The full video of the meeting can be found by liking the page, “Theo Hensley, MD” on Facebook. It was facilitated by Radio Greeneville.

     The following is Dr. Hensley’s list of best practices.

     Going to an essential store:

  • Is there an essential reason that I must leave home? Can it wait?
  • Am I sick? If so, stay home. Call doctor’s office before showing up.
  • Not sick? Go out and wear mask, wash hands. Avoid touching your face.
  • Prepare before entering a store. Get payment method and sanitizer ready. Leave phone in vehicle.
  • Try to stick to 1 store instead of multiple, even if that means spending a small amount extra for an item you may typically buy somewhere else.
  • Stretch out visits to essential stores to 2+ weeks if possible.
  • Ask cashier to sanitize their hands before they touch your merchandise and then your card after if they touch it.
  • Decline help carrying groceries to your car. If you need help, ask that person to sanitize hands before touching your items.
  • Once returning to your vehicle, sanitize your hands.

Going to your doctor’s office:

  • Call ahead, don’t just show up.  If you have a fever or other concerning symptoms, we may want to screen you offsite to reduce chance of spread to other patients or our staff!
  • IF YOU HAVE RECENTLY BEEN SCREENED FOR COVID-19 BUT DO NOT YET HAVE RESULTS BACK SAYING YOU ARE NEGATIVE, DO NOT GO ANYWHERE UNLESS YOU ARE DYING, IN THAT CASE EITHER CALL 911 OR NOTIFY THE ER YOU ARE COMING AND COULD HAVE COVID-19. ERs HAVE PROCESSES FOR THIS AND CAN ISOLATE YOU AS SOON AS YOU ARRIVE.
  • Utilize telehealth visits with your doctor if available. Many insurance companies are covering these with no copay during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
  • Wear a mask when going out into public. This protects other people FROM you.
  • Use automatic door openers if available when going into office building. If office has a standard door handle or knob, you could bring a paper towel, wet wipe, etc. to open the door. Same goes for any elevator buttons etc.  Otherwise use hand sanitizer if available after going through high traffic areas like that.
  • Wash your hands! (properly). This means getting paper towels ready so that you don’t touch the dispenser after you have cleaned your hands.  Wash with soap and warm water for at LEAST 20 seconds.  DON’T use your clean hand to turn off the water, this causes recontamination of your hands. Use a paper towel or wipe to turn off the faucet.  Lastly, you must use that paper towel/wipe to open the door of a public restroom!
  • Ask your Physician/NP/PA/Nurse to wash or sanitize their hands or stethoscope before touching you. We don’t mind, I promise. We’re trying to protect you just as much as we are trying to protect us and our other patients.
  • Wash/sanitize hands after the visit.
  • Try to avoid touching your face.
  • Cough/sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. #DabCough #DabSneeze
  • Continue working on management of your chronic medical conditions. Uncontrolled diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease etc. will all increase risk of more severe clinical course of Covid-19 if you catch it.

Going to the pharmacy:

  • Wash your hands before and after the visit
  • Avoid cash if you can, pay with a card
  • Sanitize the card before and after the transaction
  • It’s ok to refuse to sign the form of you “accepting or declining counseling”
  • Ask the pharmacist or tech to sanitize their hands in front of you before touching your prescription bag
  • Talk with your pharmacist about getting early refills on non-controlled medications. They will work with you to try to reduce trips to the pharmacy if possible
  • If you are sick with any infectious illness (like Covid-19), see if the pharmacy can deliver your medication or if a friend/family would be willing to pick it up for you to reduce risk of spread of disease to your neighbors.

Going to a drive-thru or fast food:

  • Ask the cashier to change gloves before touching your card or food.
  • Avoid cash so that you don’t have to pay with cash. If your total is $5.80, and you give them $6.00, tell them to just “keep the change.”  They deserve it and trust me, two dimes isn’t worth a tube going down your throat an missing your grandchild’s birthday party next year. 
  • Decline condiments and use the ketchup/mustard etc. at home that you know isn’t contaminated.
  • Ask cashier to sanitize your card if possible before handing it back. If they can’t, use an alcohol wipe, spray bottle, or hand sanitizer to clean your card after they return it.
  • Use hand sanitizer on your hands as well after getting payment back (or cash/change back if otherwise unavoidable)
  • Cook at home as much as you can.

What can businesses do for best practice?

                  Prop doors open where possible

  • Front door
  • Break room
  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms(if plausible to maintain privacy, obviously)
       Also:
  • Sanitize debit/credit cards before handing back to customer.
  • You could go to an extreme where you only hand back cash that is fresh/new from the bank and potentially deposit all the “dirty” cash. Banks and government in China actually went to an extreme with this by changing out all circulation of cash with new bills from one report I read
  • Discourage cash if possible
  • Encourage patrons to pay over phone or through an App if you have one
  • Sanitize or give away pens if you need a signature
  • YOU MUST PREVENT CROSS CONTAMINATION by your cashiers by making sure they sanitize or wash their hands between EACH transaction. Gloves probably should be discouraged as they would need to be changed between each transaction and this is neither cost effective nor environmentally friendly.
  • Limit number of customers into your business if possible. Encourage 1 person per vehicle/household to come in if possible.
  • Can you close your waiting room or show room? One local vet I went to last week wore gowns and masks and are bringing animals to and from your car.
  • Tell customers the steps you are taking to protect them.  People are more likely to visit your establishment if they know that you are going to great lengths to keep them safe.  People talk and they know which restaurants and businesses are doing this right. 
  • Place hand sanitizer at your checkout station or desk if you have it and encourage customers to use it after they are done with the transaction.
  • Wipe down high traffic surfaces as frequently as possible/practical.
  • Have a safe and practical policy for employee screening and return to work policy
  • Do not require them to come to the doctor in person for a note
  • If you use a thermometer or other equipment to screen employees for disease, you obviously must sanitize it between use on employees.
Things that are ok to do right now:
  • Go outside into your yard or take a stroll through your neighborhood on these warm sunny days. If you encounter other neighbors walking, be sure to stay at least 6 feet away from them.
  • Take a “Sunday Drive” through the countryside for a change of scenery.
  • Attend online church
  • Mow your lawn
  • Reorganize your closets or garage
  • Waive to your neighbors across the street
  • Call loved ones or friends that you haven’t spoken to in years.
  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise
  • Catch up on that TV series that everyone is talking about.                                                                              
For more information, please visit “Theo Hensley, MD” on Facebook.