This Tuesday I have my first in-person visit to Boston Medical Center in about a year. All my appointments since last winter have been via telemedicine or phone. My new rheumatologist told me when we spoke over the summer that he’s now trying to alternate virtual and face-to-face meetings with patients unless circumstances make an in-person visit too risky. Given the pandemic’s surge, I was expecting this one to be telemed once again, but not so.
Instead, I’ve received a series of texts and emails with a Covid questionnaire (all my answers to risk and exposure were ‘no’), instructions about coming alone (unless I was accompanying a child or a disabled or elderly patient), and to remember my insurance cards (of course).
What I don’t know is this:
Will they give me a new mask and require hand sanitizer when I arrive? I assume so. This is standard at every other medical practice that I visit. I hope they won’t prevent me from wearing my protective gloves.
Will there be a limit on number of people in the elevator? The Rheumatology Department is on the seventh floor, and the elevators in the medical building were always crowded in the Before Times.
How many people are scheduled for the waiting room at a time? Appointments often run late. There’s a big open corridor outside the office with large glass windows overlooking the BMC complex. The waiting room is shared with another department. Can I wait in the corridor instead of the waiting room? Will someone come to get me?
I will bring some cleaning supplies along in case I have to use the public restroom. At least on the 7th floor, the restroom doesn’t get too much traffic, but BMC is still a busy place, and I can’t take any chances.
Is it worth it to go in person? I could have requested a virtual appointment. But I actually want to see my rheumatologist again. We only met once, when my long-time physician, Dr. Robert Simms, was transitioning to retirement. It’s time to have a real visit. I really like and respect my new doc, and we need to get to know each other better.
So, I will take the calculated risk. Life is full of such decisions these days. Maybe, by the next appointment, I’ll have been vaccinated already. God willing.
Image: Aziz Acharki