Insights From Our Editors

4 Ways the Pandemic Permanently Changed What Happens in Our Practices

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD FCOVD

March 30, 2022

The pandemic seems on the way to becoming something we live with long-term, rather than something that dominates our lives, but its impact may be long-lasting. Here are key ways the pandemic shifted the work experience in our offices.

Disinfection
The pandemic required us to focus on disinfection. Procedures implemented have continued, and are now a part of our normal world. An easy example is how frames are handled. Each frame touched by patients is disinfected before the next patient touches it.

Staying Home When Sick
Before the pandemic, team members working when ill was viewed differently. Our view pre-pandemic was to thank team members who came to work when they were under the weather because they were helping out. Now, no one is allowed to work in the office when showing symptoms of sickness, especially upper-respiratory illness. Elevated temperatures, runny noses, sore throats and other symptoms, such as those associated with GI upset, are quickly identified and the person is immediately sent home.

Staff Recruitment & Retention Challenges
The pandemic resulted in a mass exodus from the workplace. The problem became so large it’s been named the Great Resignation. The Great Resignation created problems in hiring and retaining team members. This problem continues to exist today. As a result, in order to hire and retain team members, staff wages and benefits have gone up. It’s created an employee’s market.

Strong Opinions on Pandemic Safety Measures Causing Strife
Over the pandemic, people developed strong opinions about whether or not to wear masks and whether or not vaccinations should be required. These opinions have diverged to the point of many individuals becoming argumentative in supporting their positions. These strong opinions have caused strife and office division resulting in teamwork disruption, even to the point of sometimes interfering with patient care.

Healthcare officials are predicting that we may go through another pandemic in our lifetime. If we can learn lessons from this one, we will be better prepared to face the next one.

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