Risk and Assessment of COVID-19 in a Retina Ophthalmologic Setting
3 ; 1 ; in Month : January (2021) Article No : cjoec-v3-1006
Abdulaal M, Robertson JA, Moore MT and Coney JM
Objective/Purpose: To evaluate risks and impacts of COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, on a private retina practice in Ohio and share initial strategies and guidelines to maintain a sustainable and safe practice.
Design: A retrospective analysis was performed using outpatient clinic logs for patients seen during the first 10 weeks of 2020 and for 10 weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: The number of visits, intravitreal injections and surgeries were analyzed for before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures conducted initially to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and maintain pre-pandemic clinical care levels were discussed.
Results: During the first month, there was a 57% decrease in the average number of visits (1147 SD±168, P= 0.001). Visit numbers steadily increased, especially after initiating COVID-19 testing to staff, to reach 2010 visits per week by the end of the study. Surgical cases saw a 40% drop in the first month post-pandemic. Mostly the decrease of surgeries was with epiretinal membrane peel surgeries (60% decrease). Surgical case numbers in the following weeks improved reaching similar averages by the end of the study, 43 vs. 39.8 (SD±11 cases, respectively) per week. Similarly, intravitreal injections during the first month of the pandemic averaged 852 (SD±122) per week and by the last 4 weeks of the study, the number of injections averaged 972 (SD±142) per week. During the pandemic, 69% (149) of employees received the antibody test. Five employees tested positive and were required to take 2019-nCoV RT-PCR test. Only one tested positive and was immediately quarantined for two weeks.
Conclusion: The decrease in visits and surgeries during the early stages of the pandemic was reversed by the completion of the study. Initiation of frequent, rapid and early COVID-19 testing to staff, in addition to implementing preventive measurements in clinics, were essential to establish a safe clinical environment.
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