A Phased Approach to Resuming Suspended Allergy/Immunology Clinical Services
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In early 2020, the first US and Canadian cases of the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection were detected. In the ensuing months, there has been rapid spread of the infection. In March 2020, in response to the virus, state/provincial and local governments instituted shelter-in-place orders, and nonessential ambulatory care was significantly curtailed, including allergy/immunology services. With rates of new infections and fatalities potentially reaching a plateau and/or declining, restrictions on provision of routine ambulatory care are lifting, and there is a need to help guide the allergy/immunology clinician on how to reinitiate services. Given the fact that coronavirus disease 2019 will circulate within our communities for months or longer, we present a flexible, algorithmic best-practices planning approach on how to prioritize services, in 4 stratified phases of reopening according to community risk level, as well as highlight key considerations for how to safely do so. The decisions on what services to offer and how fast to proceed are left to the discretion of the individual clinician and practice, operating in accordance with state and local ordinances with respect to the level of nonessential ambulatory care that can be provided. Clear communication with staff and patients before and after all changes should be incorporated into this new paradigm on continual change, given the movement may be forward and even backward through the phases because this is an evolving situation.
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