How are aesthetic clinics tackling the COVID-19 crisis?

Kanishka Ramchandani presents an exclusive report on the COVID-19 crisis in India…

Singer Kanika Kapoor has been in news since the day she tested positive for COVID-19. Her case has received a lot of media attention as she partied with several high-profile personalities in Lucknow, which has sent them in a frenzy. Amid this, she also visited a skin clinic in Hazratganj, leading to the investigation of other patients too. This has brought the aesthetic medicine segment under the scanner.

When the AESTHETIC MEDICINE team contacted Kaya Clinics, we have been informed that all the clinics in Maharashtra have been closed due to the COVID-19 scare since March 19, until further notice. Clinics including Dr Trasi’s La Piel in Khar has issued communication to all its patients on cancellation of appointments at the clinic. Majority of the clinics observed Janta Curfew on March 22 and remained closed. Those open on other days are maintaining high levels of hygiene and a by-prior-appointment only format.

Evidently, aesthetic practitioners are on high alert and are doing their best to minimise the risk factors.

In-clinic care

Dr Sonia Tekchandani, Consulting Dermatologist and Antiaging Specialist, Tender Skin International, says, “We do not allow more than 5-10 people at any given time in the waiting area, in order to maintain some distance between patient groups (a gap of at least 3 feet, if possible). We are discouraging healthy patients from coming to the clinic for routine check-ups or to show reports for the next two weeks. Detailed history of the patient is taken at the reception regarding flu-like illness and travel history before allowing the patient in. We have limited the number of people accompanying the patients to the clinic and do not allow senior citizens and children to accompany patients’. No medical representatives are being allowed to visit doctors for two weeks.”

Dr Tekchandani also has a list of dos and don’ts for her team of doctors and rest of the staff. She has instructed the doctors to examine the patients quickly, minimise talking, scrub hands thoroughly using alcohol-based sanitisers before and after examining every patient. “Sanitisers containing 70 per cent alcohol are kept at the reception for patients and staff and we ensure everyone uses the same before entering. All staff members are maintaining complete hygiene by washing, sanitising, changing their clothes and wearing a mask. Doctors and nurses are required to change their dress and clean fomites (mobile phones and stethoscopes) before going home. High priority is given to clinic cleaning, and in every two to three hours, railings, doorknobs and surfaces (reception desk, doctor’s table) are thoroughly cleansed.”

For the benefit of the patients, Dr Tekchandani has added posters of hand hygiene, cough etiquette, COVID-19 disease, warning about asymptomatic carriers and social distancing to her clinic. They have also implemented cashless transactions. The number of patients has reduced considerably as they are discouraging unnecessary visits. The clinic timings have been realigned to see only emergency patients.

At-home care

Dr Jamuna Pai, Head, SkinLab Clinics, stresses on the importance of maintaining hygiene, both at work and at home. “In this time of being cautious and taking all measures to protect ourselves as well as contain the spread of the COVID-19, I am sure all of us are following the guidelines laid down by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Yes, washing hands is imperative but I would like to add that do moisturise, too, after washing. As we are now constantly washing our hands, symptoms of irritating hand dermatitis are emerging where it ranges from dry and cracked skin to aggravated eczema. To prevent this, moisturise as often as you wash. Look for products such as glycerin, castor oil or petroleum jelly or even anything that you already have at home. At night, you can apply something heavier before you sleep.”

She further cautions, “Remain calm and try not to worry over situations you cannot control. Keeping a positive mindset can help you tide over the toughest situations and can greatly boost your immune system. Stay safe!”

Positive side

The on-slaught of COVID-19 and the measure we as a nation are taking against it are having an economic impact. With practices closed in face of lockdown, business is affected but experts are advising a positive outlook. Dr Apratim Goel, Medical Director, Cutis Skin Studios, says, “These are difficult times. At such times, don’t forget that we are doctors as well. We have the knowledge and medical know-how to help and guide patients. Of course, we are complying by all government regulations and keeping our practices shut for now. But let’s turn this crisis into an opportunity and use this time at hand to train staff online, write long pending clinical papers, and educate the masses about what measures they can take to stay safe. And most important of all, keep ourselves and our family safe. This will pass, though it will hurt our practices. But at least we have had time in hand to plan things. So, friends, let’s make best use of this time we have. I am sure our families will be happy to have us around. And yes, it’s time to pick up those forgotten New Year resolutions and work on them.”