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Dermatology drive-thru during COVID-19


DW Weekly talks with Helen Raynham, MD, PhD, a dermatologist in private practice in Natick, Massachusetts, about her unique solutions for accommodating patients during the COVID-19 crisis.


DW Weekly: Many dermatology practices have had to quickly implement telehealth during the pandemic. How did your patients adapt to those changes?

Dr. Raynham: It took a long time for many of our patients to understand how to upload our new teledermatology platform, or even how to do FaceTime. It was especially frustrating for some of our older patients who could not get telehealth visuals to work at all.

Dr. Raynham secured a permit from the local Department of Public Health to set up a ‘drive-thru’ dermatology clinic with a commercial grade tent in the office parking lot.
Dr. Raynham secured a permit from the local Department of Public Health to set up a ‘drive-thru’ dermatology clinic with a commercial grade tent in the office parking lot.

DW Weekly: How were you able to accommodate patients struggling with or unsuited for telemedicine?

Dr. Raynham: We were able to secure a permit from the local Department of Public Health to set up a ‘drive-thru’ dermatology clinic in our office parking lot. We have a commercial grade tent set up there and have made it clear that this is not the same thing as going to Dunkin Donuts. Patients have to try telehealth options first, and if they are still struggling, then they have the option of the drive-thru. We want to flatten the curve, and that involves making sure that our drive-thru dermatology clinic is safe.

DW Weekly: How has the drive-thru clinic been received by patients?

Dr. Raynham: They have been very happy. I had one patient, a very elderly gentleman, who needed a biopsy. I have an exam set-up where I have a table, chair, and my little biopsy kit I usually take to the hospital when I’m on-call. He was quite anxious about coming inside the office, and in the privacy of the tent I was able to do a quick biopsy in a way that he felt comfortable.

Dr. Raynham set up a drive-thru dermatology clinic
Signage for the drive-thru dermatology clinic.

DW Weekly: How else have you maintained safe social distancing while conducting in-person patient visits?

Dr. Raynham: I’ve actually been using a pair of close-focus binoculars to examine patients from six feet away. I’m currently waiting on a new pair specifically for viewing butterflies, but right now I’m using the ones I have when I go on safari. I’m originally from South Africa, so I’m very familiar with using binoculars for wildlife. Now I use them to see patients!


Want to read more? Stay tuned for the September issue of DW for more stories from dermatologists on the front lines of COVID-19.


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