I really want to make sure that you know how we plan to serve you as COVID-19 spreads through our community, so I’m sharing this blog post to explain what you can expect from us over the next few weeks to months.
First of all: you probably have enough toilet paper and water! 🙂 If you want to prepare and stock up, it would be reasonable to grab a couple weeks’ worth of non-perishable food items (in case you’re asked to self-quarantine or are caring for someone who has to quarantine) and to make sure you’ve got enough of the staples like ibuprofen/acetaminophen and your prescription medications to last a few weeks. I’ll discuss precautions you can take a bit more along with facts that have come to light regarding COVID-19 below.
We are fully committed to caring for our patients in the most evidence-based, safe capacity possible. In this vane, we’ve instituted a few policies to protect ourselves and our staff, which — in turn — keeps you all as healthy as possible. Our triage algorithm is highlighted below:
- If you have isolated, upper respiratory symptoms and no fever, we will recommend home care and that you notcome in for an in-person visit. You are always welcome to schedule a virtual visit.
- If we determine that you need an in-person visit, the visit will occur in your vehicle in the parking lot of our clinic so as to prevent potential spread and exposure to others. Seriously. In the parking lot. Though it’s not how we usually do things, it’s the most effective way to prevent the spread in the clinic.
- If you have severe symptoms, we will likely refer you directly to a hospital. From what we know thus far about COVID-19, symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization occur approximately 9-12 days after symptoms first appear.
- We are working with our lab vendor to confirm the exact specifics (like pricing and where the testing will be available), but we have received word that COVID-19 testing should become commercially available starting on Monday, March 9, 2020.
- Until we have clear direction from Quest and/or the CDC that there are enough testing kits for widespread testing, we will notbe recommending testing for just anyone with symptoms of respiratory infection; we will be making this decision on a case-by-case basis. (The current estimate is that nationwide we have 800,000 tests; that’s enough to test 0.2% of the US population.)
I cannot be more explicit than this: if we come into contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19, all LHS staff who made contact with that individual will have to quarantine for 14 days. As we’re small, this may lead to a situation where we will have to close for all in-person interactions for up to (and potentially longer than) a 14-day period. If this were to occur, we would offer telephone triage and telemedicine visits.
Again, we’re putting these guidelines in place to prevent the spread of this illness to the most vulnerable around us. We so appreciate your understanding, patience, and effort to keep everyone in the LHS family healthy as we all see our routines upended a bit by this virus. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or reach out.
Dr. Nina Maouelainin