Aesthetic Office Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan

January 2021 | Volume 20 | Issue 1 | Original Article | 10 | Copyright © January 2021

Published online December 23, 2020

Joel L Cohen MDa, Steve H Dayan MDb, Mathew M Avram MDc, Renato Saltz MDd, Suzanne Kilmer MDe, Corey S Maas MDf, Joel Schlessinger MD

aAboutSkin Dermatology and DermSurgery, PC, Greenwood Village, CO
bDivision of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology, Chicago Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
cDermatology Cosmetic and Laser Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
dAdjunct Professor of Plastic Surgery, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
eLaser and Skin Surgery Center of Northern California, Sacramento, CA
fThe Maas Clinic Facial Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery, San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, CA gSkin Specialists, PC, Omaha, NE

The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has served as a call-to-arms in preparing practices for the next disaster whether it is another infectious disease or a flood, hurricane, earthquake, a sustained power outage, or something else. A group of predominantly core aesthetic physicians discussed the various aspects of their office procedures that warrant consideration in a proactive approach to the next pandemic/disaster-related event. This guide does not set a standard of practice but contains recommendations that may avoid some of the "lessons learned" with the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, the board-certified core aesthetic physicians classified these recommendations into four generalized areas: Practice Management; Supplies and Inventory; Office Staffing Considerations and Protocols; and Patient Management Strategies. Proactive strategies are provided in each of these categories that, if implemented, may alleviate the processes involved with an efficient office closure and reopening process including, in the case of COVID-19, methods to reduce the risk of transmission to doctors, staff, and patients. These strategies also include being prepared for emergency-related notifications of employees and patients; the acquisition of necessary equipment and supplies such as personal protective equipment; and the maintenance and accessibility of essential data and contact information for patients, vendors, financial advisors, and other pertinent entities.

J Drugs Dermatol. 20(1):10-16. doi:10.36849/JDD.2021.5803


Our lives have changed significantly during 2020. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has resulted in many of us having lost loved ones; experiencing bouts of isolation, loneliness, and depression; and wondering about our personal and business-related financial obligations and future. The suddenness of our office closures and uncertainty/geographic inconsistencies in reopening has caused anxiety among our staff and patients. Physicians remain hopeful that the financial implications of the “lockdowns” and practice restrictions are neither long-lasting nor irreversible. This “crisis” does serve as a call-to-arms for implementation of emergency preparedness and response strategies to ready our practices for the future.

Challenges faced in the COVID-19 response included many having limited training in emergency preparedness and response, the lack of supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) that included masks and hand sanitizers, etc. Many practices reported being woefully unprepared for even the simplest of tasks and necessary procedures associated with the COVID-19 lockdown.

As office practice restrictions move toward reopening, many continue to be unprepared or uncertain as to how to orchestrate this stage of the process. Few emergency-scenario guidance documents for closure and reopening were available to advise practitioners prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recently published Project AesCert Guidance Supplement outlines a practical guide to safety considerations to support clinic preparedness for patients seeking nonsurgical aesthetic treatments and procedures following the return-to-work phase of COVID-19.1 In addition, the report on recommendations for cutaneous and aesthetic surgeries during COVID-19 provided helpful information on performing procedures including the proper use of hand sanitizer, wearing and removal of N95 masks, and other PPE precautions.2 However, there still exists a need to guide office practices on how they can proactively