BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The pandemic has turned almost every aspect of daily life upside down, including visits to healthcare professionals.

What You Need To Know

  • Before entering patients must get a temperature check and wear a fresh mask

  • Office is open seven days a week to spread out appointments

  • There are never more than six patients in the office at a time

  • Dr. Richlin installed HEPA filters in the office to purify the air

The coronavirus is even changing the way a decades-old optometry practice in Beverly Hills is taking care of its patients, like Dr. Dovi Prero. Spectrum News 1 caught up with the orthodontist as he visited the optometry office of Richlin and Associates for the first time since the pandemic.

“It’s pretty crazy,” said Dr. Prero. “ I don’t normally have my appointments on Sundays.”

There are requirements before Dr. Prero can enter. First, a temperature check and then he must don a fresh mask, use hand sanitizer from a touchless dispenser, and put away his cellphone. Afterward, Dr. Prero receives a sticker showing he has been green-lighted to enter. If he uses a pen in the optometry office, it gets sanitized.

All of these are measures Dr. Steven Richlin deems necessary to keep patients and staff safe. In normal times, four optometrists see patients six days a week, but Dr. Richlin knew he would have to spread out the schedule to maintain social distancing.

“We literally are open seven days a week and we start seeing patients at seven in the morning Monday through Friday, finishing at seven at night,” said Dr. Richlin. “Also, open Saturday and Sunday, so we only have two doctors in the office at one time and there are half the employees in the office, half the patients and it’s the right thing to do.”  

With the new schedule, there are never more than six patients in the office at a time and they are spaced apart. Dr. Richlin also installed HEPA filters to purify the air and removed magazines that can harbor the virus.

Dr. Prero found the wait to be seen an almost Zen-like experience.

“Back in the day, you take a magazine. Now you take out your cell phone and just go straight to your Twitter or internet,” he said. “I just sat there with my hands folded and it was actually pretty peaceful.”

Once inside the exam room, everyone dons masks and handwashing is frequent. But there is one more layer of security, a plastic shield to further protect doctor and patient from each other’s droplets.

The exam rooms are sanitized in between each patient and Dr. Richlin bought a UV light to further sterilize the rooms after the cleanings. He says there is no such thing as too clean.

“We’re not 100 percent sure what works, but we know that by extra protection, that is protecting the staff, the patients and the doctors,” said Dr. Richlin.

He is confident the safety measures will keep his patients safe.

“On a scale of one to 10, they’re a 10,” he said. “Every surface is clean here. The air is clean and I don’t think a patient has to worry about it.”

It is safe enough for Dr. Richlin to go to work as he is in a high-risk category. It is also safe enough to keep patients coming into the practice with peace of mind.

“Even though it's not necessary, you're doing what's needed and maybe even a little bit more to protect the patients,” said Dr. Prero, “and it's appreciated.”