Destin internal medicine physician Nitin Bawa of Bawa & Associates offers a free curbside service for patients who don’t want to wait in the waiting room during the coronavirus pandemic.

DESTIN – Dr. Nitin Bawa has no intentions of spreading the coronavirus in his waiting room.


The internal medicine physician started a curbside service at the Dr. Bawa & Associates’ Destin office, so patients can wait inside their car instead. The office offers curbside check-in locations, where patients ring an electronic doorbell and answer the nurse’s questions. The nurse will then perform vitals in the car and accompany the patient to the exam room, completely bypassing the waiting room to cooperate with social distancing recommendations.


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"You have to look at your front waiting room, and you see that’s one area where unfortunately people have to congregate," Bawa said. "I feel bad for my healthy patients who come in wearing masks because they’re going to a doctor’s office. I came up with the idea, ‘Let’s get rid of waiting rooms altogether. Why do people have to wait in waiting rooms?’"


The idea was inspired by Sushimoto, a Destin restaurant Bawa frequents that doesn’t use a waiting room, and a Ring doorbell he recently installed in his home. The ability to see people walking up to the door and talk to them through the doorbell impressed Bawa.


"You can see people outside, ask them questions, ‘Do you have a cough? Cold? How bad is it?’" Bawa said. "If it’s really bad, they don’t even need to come see us. They need to go straight to the emergency room and be admitted. What better way than to have a Ring doorbell, where we can talk, we can see the patient, we can advise them from inside. We don’t even have to be exposed to them."


Patients who are not short of breath or coughing excessively can come to the clinic for a swab test for COVID -19 that will be sent to the health department, as well as test for other types of viruses, such as the flu. They offer instant tests for influenza A and B. People can wait in their vehicle for the results.


Bawa said his son coincidentally recently tested positive for influenza A, but not the coronavirus. Patients can have both, he added.


"I said, ’Son, this is good news,’ Bawa said. "’In the old days, getting the flu would be bad. Today, this is good news. You don’t have COVID-19.’"