While the COVID-19 outbreak forced non-emergency medical appointments to be put on hold for months, one doctor in Massachusetts says it's now safe for patients to return to medical offices as they get up to speed in Phase 2 of the state's reopening from coronavirus shutdowns.
As Massachusetts prepares to move into the second step of Phase 2 on Monday, doctors are continuing to reassure patients that it's safe to come into the office.
"It’s great to get back going again," Michael Ayers, an orthopedic surgeon, said.
Dr. Ayers has been seeing more and more patients since elective procedures and routine doctor visits were given the green light in Phase 2 earlier this month.
"Patients are stressed out, providers are stressed out, but we’re all trying to support each other and get through the next few months of safely getting through the backlog," the doctor said.
Hospitals and medical officers around the state have ramped up safety procedures. South Shore Hospital in Weymouth shared images on social media showing the precautions they've taken to keep patients safe, including a special screening area for employees, social distancing markers on the floor and fewer people allowed in waiting rooms.
"We’ve got arrows on the floor, we’re respecting everyone’s space and doing the best we can," Dr. Ayers said.
The pandemic forced physicians to cancel non-emergency procedures, but Dr. Ayers says people should no longer put off going to see a doctor with Phase 2 now well underway.
"A lot of people have been sitting on conditions that are possibly something that should be taken care of," he said. "It’s okay and safe to come in, so don’t be afraid to come in but also be patient because it will take some time."
Gov. Charlie Baker says he's grateful people have been patient with the entire reopening process.
“I know it can’t happen fast enough but the people of Massachusetts are proving we can reopen and continue to bring the fight to the virus when we all do our part,” the Republican governor said Friday.
Not all doctor visits are allowed yet, however. Cosmetic procedures are not allowed until Phase 3, which cannot begin until at least July 6.