Opening and closing the Facility

When the facility is opened in the morning, everything should be in readiness. The receptionist or administrative medical assistant, who arrives at least twenty minutes before the first patient, will make a visual check of each room to be certain it is prepared and ready for the day. Rooms should be of a comfortable temperature, well-organized, pleasantly illuminated, and spotless. All necessary supplies and equipment should be checked for readiness. At all times, patient comfort and safety should be paramount. Patient charts for the day should be retrieved if not done so the prior evening. The receptionist will also check the answering service or machine for any telephone messages. An effective way to check a room's readiness is to place yourself in the room as a patient. Ask yourself how you feel about being there, what mood the surroundings create for you, and whether you would feel welcome and comfortable as a patient. At the close of the day, each room should be checked to make certain all equipment is shut down and doors and windows are secured. Be sure that all materials of a sensitive nature are under lock and key (this is not easily accomplished in facilities that use open-shelf filing, however). Any drugs identified in the Controlled Substances Act list of narcotics and non-narcotics must be in a locked and secure cabinet and should also be checked when leaving the office. Any petty cash kept on the premises must be locked in a safe container. It is best, also, to put each room and area in readiness for the next day. Local law enforcement officers can advise you on appropriate indoor and outdoor lighting as well as any other security measures to make both during and after office hours. Always contact the answering service to notify them that the office is closed and where and how the medical staff can be reached in an emergency. Keep in mind that the environment in which patient care is given must promote health rather than aggravate illness and feed anxiety. The environment must be clean, fresh, cheerful, and nonthreatening with contemporary furnishings, appropriate colors, proper lighting, and soothing textures. Even if patients are not consciously aware of the message they are getting from the office design and environment, they are subconsciously receiving it. The office environment reveals things that might subconsciously undermine a patient's confidence in the physician and the health care team.