Coronavirus (COVID-19) Precautions
COVID-19 Updates (8/24/20)
Regarding Governor Gregg Abbott's Executive Order Suspending Elective Procedures
Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and in an effort to preserve hospital capacity and resources, Governor Gregg Abbott issued an Executive Order suspending elective surgeries in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis County hospitals. This Executive Order applies to facilities licensed under Chapter 241 of the Texas Health & Safety Code, which are primarily hospitals. This Order does NOT apply to outpatient Ambulatory Surgical Centers licensed under Chapter 243 of the Texas Health & Safety Code, which includes our Endoscopy Centers, Oakwood Surgery Center, North Austin Surgery Center, and Bailey Square Surgery Center.
Executive Order GA-27, which will go into effect on Friday, June 26th at midnight, is intended to preserve hospital capacity and resources in the four largest Texas Counties. Hospitals in Travis County have not yet reached capacity thresholds outlined in EO GA-27 that would require the suspension of elective procedures, and therefore elective surgeries will proceed as scheduled until further notice from hospital leadership.
This Order should not be interpreted to mean that it is unsafe or unwise for patients to undergo elective procedures in an outpatient facility. Austin Gastroenterology adheres to strict safety precautions in our endoscopy centers to protect our patients, physicians and staff and we are confident that we can safely proceed performing both urgent and elective procedures for our patients. These safety precautions include screening everyone for fever and other symptoms related to COVID-19 before entering our facilities, universal PPE use 100% of the time by physicians and staff, visitors are not permitted thus allowing us to minimize the number of people in our facilities, masks and social distancing are required at all times, and a thorough cleaning between patients is routinely conducted.
For those of you who are scheduled for any type of procedure at Austin Endoscopy Center, Oakwood Surgery Center, North Austin Surgery Center and Bailey Square Surgery Center, YOUR PROCEDURE WILL PROCEED AS SCHEDULED unless you personally elect otherwise and notify your physician’s office of your desire to cancel or reschedule.
For anyone scheduled for an elective procedure in a Travis County facility not mentioned above, we recommend that you contact your physician’s office to confirm the status of your appointment.
What We are Doing to Protect Our Clinics and Endoscopy Centers from COVID-19 Exposure
As the number of documented cases of Coronavirus continues to rise, we are committed to doing everything we can to continue providing quality care to our patients while taking every precaution to limit the exposure of our patients and staff to COVID-19. In doing so, we are implementing the following measures in our offices for the time being:
- We are now offering TELEHEALTH VISITS for both new and established patients. You can request your Telehealth Visit online, or call your AG office to schedule.
- We are asking patients scheduled to come into our office who have a cough, difficulty breathing, fever of 99.6 or higher, or who have been in contact with someone with any of these symptoms for the past two weeks, to call us to reschedule their appointments until COVID-19 tests have been widely distributed throughout the Central Texas area.
- We have reopened our endoscopy centers on a limited schedule to keep the number of people coming into our centers to a minimum. We have resumed performing all endoscopic procedures.
- We are screening every patient, visitor, physician, and staff member for symptoms related to COVID-19 (including temperature) prior to entering our facilities. COVID-19 testing will be required for some patients prior to certain procedures according to safety guidelines set forth by the American College of Gastroenterologists and the Texas Medical Board.
- We are restricting caregiver and family member access into our offices. For your safety and ours, we ask that all caregivers and family members wait in their cars during patient appointments or procedures.
- Social distancing and non-vented masks are required for all patients, physicians and staff inside our offices. In keeping with the latest safety recommendations from the CDC, non-vented masks are required in our offices. People with vented masks will be given a non-vented mask and asked to change before entering our facilities.
If you have not heard from Austin Gastro about canceling your existing appointment, and you are unsure if you should come into our office as scheduled, please call your AG office to inquire. A listing of our offices and contact info can be found here.
Safety Precautions at Our Endosocopy Centers and Special Instructions for Patients
The following information will guide patients through the COVID-19 changes at our Endoscopy Centers. We have also included some general information that will help you to prepare for your procedure visit. We have are 3 Endoscopy center locations, so if you are unsure of which location you are scheduled please verify that with the physician’s office.
Please take your temperature the day of your procedure before you come in. If your temperature is over 100 degrees, please call the center before you come.
To keep the number of people inside our offices to a minimum, we ask that your driver not enter the building, but be prepared to receive a phone call from your physician and from our post-operative staff after your procedure has been completed. Your driver must either stay on the building premises, or must be back here at your scheduled procedure time.
Upon entrance to the center, our screener will provide you with a mask, take your temperature, and ask you the following questions:
- Do you have a current have (or have you recently had) a temperature greater than 100 degrees, or have you recently felt feverish?
- Do you have a cough that is not related to allergies or a chronic lung disease?
- Are you experiencing shortness of breath?
- Do you have any chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle/body aches, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea?
- Have you been in close contact with any person with a flu-like illness, Coronavirus, Ebola, Measles, MERS, SARS, or TB?
- Have you (or anyone close to you) traveled outside the US, or to another state inside the US in the past 30 days?
As you read through these questions now, if your answer is yes to any of these questions, please call us before you come in for your procedure.
Please make sure you know your driver’s phone number as you will be asked to provide that information to our screener.
All staff and patients at our center are required to wear a non-vented mask.
If you wear hearing aids, please wear them to the center so that we can better communicate with you.
Please leave all jewelry and/or valuables at home.
You will be expected to confirm your medical history and your current medications along with doses with our staff before the procedure.
If you are scheduled for a colonoscopy, use the prep sheet provided by the office. Only clear liquids are allowed the day before your procedure. In addition, please do not put anything in your mouth 4 hours prior to your scheduled procedure time.
If you are scheduled for an upper endoscopy (EGD), please do not eat any solid foods after 10pm the night before your procedure. In addition, please do not put anything in your mouth 4 hours prior to your scheduled procedure time.
Please make sure you have held your blood thinner as instructed by the office.
If you have any questions regarding the COVID instructions, or symptoms you may be experiencing, do not hesitate to call and speak to a nurse.
AUSTIN ENDOSCOPY CENTER LOCATIONS:
Austin Endoscopy Center – Shoal Creek Blvd. 512-371-1519
Austin Endoscopy Center – James Casey St. 512-532-8000
Austin Endoscopy Center – Bee Cave, TX 737-207-7616
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself and Others
COVID-19 has reached ort community. We all have a role to play in limiting the spread of Coronavirus, to protect ourselves from becoming sick, and to keep our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed to the point of not being able to care for patients in need critical care. Most people who become infected with Coronavirus experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:
- If you feel unwell, STAY HOME.
- Avoid close contact with any people who are sick.
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water for 20 seconds. Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
- Maintain at least 6 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
- Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
- If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus.
- Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.
For Patients at Higher Risk
Many of our patients have conditions which may compromise their immune systems, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or patients undergoing cancer treatment. These conditions make them even more susceptible and vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. Patients with weakened immunity should call ahead of their scheduled appointments to inquire as to whether their medical appointments should be rescheduled and to discuss medication refills.
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation has posted Patient Guidance with information on deciding when to stay home, and other important information from credible sources for patient at higher risk.
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Texas continues to grow, Austin Gastro is committed to protecting the health and safety of our patients and their families, our physicians, our colleagues and staff. We believe that the measures we are taking in our offices will keep our environment safe to continue caring for our patients. We will continuously monitor the situation and keep this page updated for you.
“The entire staff was pleasant, professional and efficient. I was so nervous and everyone, from the check-in staff to nurses and techs to the anesthesiologist and finally Dr Reddy simply made the whole experience so comfortable. Highly recommend these fine folks.”Read Testimonials