Acupuncture treatment and visits may have been amongst the many that may have been missed in recent months with the COVID-19 pandemic. Any non-emergency appointments were at a standstill leaving many patients unsure when they would be able to see their acupuncturist again for their acute and chronic issues. As a patient, now that some states are relaxing the stay-at-home orders, it’s hard to know when it is safe to return to your acupuncturist. When will it be safe for you to go? What should you expect when you do return to your licensed acupuncturist? Ideally, your acupuncturist will have tools, protocol, and precautions in place for reopening to care for you safely as we ease back into life as it was before COVID-19.
What to Expect
As the country slowly emerges from lockdown and moves toward hopefully healing from the pandemic by opening up the economy, we are also unsure of what the new normal will be as far as non-emergency doctor appointments. To prevent you from contracting COVID-19, or giving it to others, you may be asked to do certain things by your licensed acupuncturist that you didn’t have to before to uphold medical precautions in the reopening.
Possible COVID-19 precautions at your next acupuncture treatment:
- Wear a face covering – this limits your risk of getting or spreading of COVID-19, and since we have learned that there are many patients who never even show symptoms, expect to wear a face covering at your next visit.
- Waiting areas – with the gradual reopening of many acupuncture practices across the United States, it is still advised to practice social distancing as much as possible. To honor this practice, many acupuncturists are doing things differently as far as the waiting room goes. To minimize time in waiting areas, many providers are either spacing seating out if there is enough room, or doing the call-in method. The call-in method is when the patient will call when they arrive for their appointment. The patient is asked to wait for their appointment time in their car, and the office personnel will call the patient to come in from their car when they are ready for them. This avoids being in contact with anyone more than your acupuncturist, and allows for maintaining social distancing.
- Visitors – before the pandemic began, it was sometimes common to bring others with you to an appointment. Now that there are COVD-19 precautions in place, you may see that your regular acupuncturist is asking to limit visitors to just one other person with you or possibly just bringing yourself to avoid over-crowding. If they do allow one person with you, it is more than likely they will need to wear a face covering as well.
- Screening – some acupuncturists may have you and your visitors answer some questions about your health status prior to your appointment. Asking questions regarding a fever, cough, etc. to be sure and keep you and others safe. Some may even go so far as to take a temperature upon entry to your appointment.
- Wash your hands – Some acupuncture offices may require you to wash your hands prior to your appointment or sanitize when you don’t have immediate access to soap and water.
- Floor markings to ensure social distancing parameters – some acupuncture offices (space permitting) may have floor markings to indicate safe social distancing to limit your exposure and staff exposure to COVID-19. Usually, these are indicated by a red line of tape on the floor or possibly a circle which you probably have seen in grocery stores and essential businesses over the last few months.
- Extra sanitization – while sanitizing was always part of the routine for acupuncturists in their offices, you may notice that there are extra precautions being taken as far as sanitizing the exam rooms and/or waiting area. This is to follow cleaning protocol and to keep you, and their staff, safe.
In addition to those listed above, your acupuncturist may have extra precautions in place unique to their office, so it may be useful to ask them any questions about what needs to be done on your part when making your acupuncture appointment.
Prepare for Your Acupuncture Visit
In order to ensure a smooth in-person visit with new precautions in place for COVID-19, there are a few things you can do as the patient to prepare.
Preparations for your acupuncture appointment:
- Pack a face covering.
- Pack some hand sanitizer for when you don’t have access to soap and water throughout the appointment.
- Write down any health conditions or medications you have been taking ahead of time so you don’t leave any off when talking to your acupuncturist. This is especially important if it is your first visit, or even first visit since reopening. This is also especially important information, as this will let your acupuncturist know if you are immunocompromised.
- When making your appointment, ask the office staff and/or your acupuncturist if there are any special COVID-19 forms that need to be filled out or any special protocol you need to know about prior to arriving for your appointment. More than likely, the acupuncturist and their staff will give this information upon making your appointment to ensure a smooth visit, but it is good to keep in the back of your mind when calling.
It should be noted that your licensed acupuncturist may not be back full time. There may be limited time slots so that the acupuncturist is able to see patients while maintaining social distancing. Be prepared to be a little more flexible in scheduling acupuncture treatments with the reopening of your go-to acupuncture practice.
The “New Normal”
It is important to note that if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 that have been previously outlined by the CDC, it is still critical to stay home and self-quarantine. Also, as much as possible, if you are immunocompromised or in the age bracket where you are most susceptible to COVID-19, stay home, avoid crowds, and self-isolate.
If you are self-quarantining, many acupuncture providers have telehealth visits available for new and existing patients during this time. Scheduling a telehealth visit with a licensed acupuncture professional can be a great way to receive additional healthcare support, get positive human interaction, and information on acupressure points you can apply at home. This will allow you to have your visit without the possible risk, especially in the beginning stages of reopening the country. Ask your licensed acupuncturist if telehealth visits are available.
While moving forward after the pandemic can be scary, there are many precautions being put in place by acupuncture providers. The “new normal” is going to be in place for a long time, and things will be different for a long time post COVID-19. Your acupuncturist, just like any other provider you see, only wants to help and heal in the safest way possible. Together, we can navigate the “new normal.”
UPDATE ON COVID-19 CASES:
The precautions listed above are important to practice as the economy begins to reopen. With that being said, it is also important to note that there are new cases of COVID-19 popping up across the United States, and it is important to know where your state stands when going about your daily life.
There are many states decreasing cases: New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Delaware, Washington D.C., New Hampshire, and Maine.
However, since the beginning of June, there have been 14 states that have recorded their highest-ever seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases since its inception in the U.S. in late March. According to The Washington Post analysis those states are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Of those 14 states, and some additional, as of Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 9 of them reported either new single-day highs or set a record for seven-day new COVID-19 case averages, they are: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas.
According to the CDC this morning June 17, 2020, there are 18,577 new cases across the country. To view a full list of new cases in the last week and keep up to date, view the CDC COVID Data Tracker.
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