4/15/20 COVID-19 Update
First, we’d like to say THANK YOU! So many of you have reached out to check on us, wish us well, and let us know that we are in your thoughts and prayers. Your acts of kindness including fruit baskets, handmade masks, delivered pastries, cards, and well wishes are so appreciated. For years our goal has been to take care of you like we would our families, and we are beyond grateful and truly blessed that you so often do that in return!
We hope this message finds you and your family safe and healthy! We certainly miss seeing many of you in person and look forward to the day when we are able to do that.
In the meantime, we are dedicated to offering the best solutions possible to care for you during this time. We know that even with stay-at-home orders in place, (which we encourage you to follow) maintaining your health and care of chronic conditions is of utmost importance to you; it certainly is to us. Below are some ways that we can continue to support you and offer care.
Well Hours / Sick Hours
We have split our daily schedule into well hours and sick hours. Our well hours are from 8am-12pm, and sick hours are from 1:30pm-4pm. As best we can, we screen patients to ensure they do not have any active, contagious respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat diarrhea, or vomiting) before scheduling. Those patients who are healthy and require a hands-on exam are seen in the mornings. Patients who require a sick visit are seen in the afternoon.
Virtual Office Visits (VOV)
Virtual Office Visits are a convenient, safe and affordable way to accommodate patients who are high risk or concerned about exposure to illness. You can visit us from the comfort of your home. Our practice is conducting these visits through a platform called doxy.me. (A HIPAA, PIPEDA, and GDPR data privacy compliant service)
If you have a health concern you’d like addressed in a VOV, please contact our office so we can ensure that a VOV is the best next step for you. We are happy to offer these appointments when we know that we can offer appropriate care for your situation.
Some problems that we can treat via VOV are: acute allergy symptoms, medication follow up, a wide variety of mental health concerns, and many others. Unfortunately, not all conditions can be treated this way. Please let our office staff know if you are interested in scheduling this type of visit, and they will advise regarding availability.
Most insurances are covering virtual visits now. We will file a claim with your insurance carrier for your Virtual Office Visit, just as we would for an in-person office visit.
Saturday WELL Visits
We’re offering Saturday appointments, because we know that not all health concerns can be addressed virtually. Oftentimes physical examination and / or labs are indispensable to fully addressing your health concern. However, we do understand that patients may be hesitant to come to our office and risk exposure to others.
On Saturdays, there is only one other office in our building open. Those patients will not be accessing the elevator. There will be fewer patients in our building and fewer staff. All of these reduce chance for exposure to illness during your visit. Saturday visits are a good option for our patients at higher risk.
We are actively pre-screening all Saturday patients, calling on Friday to ensure they have not developed any potentially contagious symptoms. We ask that any patient scheduled during this time please reschedule if you have any symptoms of cold, cough, flu, fever, or respiratory illness.
Other ways we are protecting and asking your help to protect our patients and staff:
- We are proactively reaching out to our older and high risk patient population. We just want to touch base and make sure you are ok! This is the perfect opportunity for high risk patients to let us know about any concerns they may have and ask questions.
- Before coming to our office, please let us know if you are having respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or fever). If you have any of these symptoms, please do not come inside the office without speaking to a member of our staff.
- When you come into our office for a visit, we ask that you come into the office alone. Please do not bring additional family members/friends into the office unless you require their assistance to physically enter the office. While we love to see your families, this helps to reduce exposure for all of our patients, your family members and our staff. We will look forward to seeing everyone again when we can do so safely.
- We ask that all patients use care when entering or leaving our building and suite. Use hand sanitizer before coming in and touching elevator buttons and door handles. Use an elbow, tissue or wipe to press buttons on elevators. Use hand sanitizer upon leaving the building. Cover your coughs / sneezes.
- We have hand sanitizer at our front door and at the entrance to the building for your use.
- If you are having respiratory symptoms, we will ask that you wear a mask into our suite. (Masks are provided at our entrance, but if you have your own, please bring it with you. There is a shortage of supplies nationwide)
- We will look a little different to you these days. Our staff is wearing masks and protection throughout the day.
- As always, out staff is exercising appropriate hand washing and disinfecting procedures.
- Our building maintenance is taking care to disinfect elevators, bathrooms and stairwells frequently.
- We are communicating with our CDC Liaison and Health Department as necessary for guidance.
- We are referring our patients who potentially have COVID-19 to one of the UNC Respiratory Diagnostic Clinics. Please call our office for screening and information on referral to these clinics. This is an awesome resource which allows us to have less exposure in our clinic and continue to care for those patients who require medical treatment for other non-Covid related issues.
We are following the CDC guidelines along with clinical evaluation to determine the need for testing and referring those we think are appropriate for testing to UNC Respiratory Diagnostic Centers for further screening.
TIPS TO REDUCE SPREAD AND EXPOSURE
Social Distancing –
- Take care to avoid crowded areas (movie theaters, restaurants, concerts, conferences, shopping areas, etc.
- Stay 6ft away from others as possible.
- Do not shake hands /hug/ high five
Respiratory Etiquette –
- Cough into the fold of your arm/cover your cough with a tissue.
- Sneeze into a tissue
Hand Washing –
Good times to wash your hands – before eating, before and after using the restroom, after touching common surfaces (door handles / grocery carts / sink knobs / elevator buttons / ATM / Gas Pumps / Pay terminals), after you cough/sneeze and cover with hand or after using tissues.
Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
Alcohol based hand sanitizers are a good alternative when you are unable to wash. Choose one that is at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching your face (mouth, nose, eyes) / Biting fingernails
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE SYMPTOMS
Cough – OTC Cough Syrup
Fever –Tylenol or Ibuprofen can be used to manage fever
Hydrate – Drink plenty of fluids, soups, jello, ice-cream, etc to keep yourself hydrated
If you begin to have difficulty breathing or are concerned that your symptoms are worsening please call our office or after hours call (919)875-6941. If you feel it is life threatening or emergent call 911 and please let them know of any exposure or positive covid test you have had.
Current NC DHHS guidance for isolation
At least 7 days since symptom onset and ≥72 hours after symptom resolution (absence of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and improvement in respiratory symptoms), whichever is longer.
Absence of fever (without use of fever-reducing medication), improvement in respiratory symptoms, and 2 negative test results conducted on specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.