COVID-19 TESTING & MEDICATIONS UPDATE
Priority Physicians Patients:
We continue to strongly encourage, and frankly implore social distancing and avoidance of travel, essentially remaining housebound if at all possible. We all need to do our part in helping to “blunt the curve” and aid in halting the spread of this coronavirus (COVID-19).
We are still not accepting walk in visits. Please call us before coming to the office. We have split our staff to work alternate days to lessen the risk for exposure, but we remain at full strength whether working from home or in the office.
We are working diligently to remain current on all available information regarding this pandemic given its ever-changing landscape. Our sources are varied, availing ourselves to experiences and data both domestic and international.
We continue to formulate plans to serve the interests of all of our patients regarding both common medications and prescriptions of evolving therapies for COVID-19. In the midst of a pandemic in which the true benefit of new medications, or new uses of old medications, is unclear, we are striving both to protect our patients from use of medications that could harm them, and preserve availability of medication for use by people who have a clearly diagnosed need.
Toward that end, we will not prescribe medications like hydroxychloroquine, for which the utility in COVID is still being uncovered (What is the optimal dose? What is the proper regimen? What is optimal timing? What other medications should be co-administered? What are potential adverse reactions in specific populations?), particularly in patients who do not have symptoms. In addition, we will not prescribe medications like Tamiflu or antibiotics like azithromycin (Zpacks) unless a person is exhibiting symptoms and has discussed their acute care needs with one of our physicians. In the case of hydroxychloroquine, it is scarcely or not available at local retail pharmacies at this time.
We are not wanting to deprive potentially useful medications from our patients. On the contrary, we have been working throughout the last 24-48 hours to secure doses of hydroxychloroquine and other medications so that if they become clearly useful, we can provide it directly to our patients, if and when they need it. We continue to source testing kits and personal protective equipment for our practice as well and hope to have those available in the coming days.
For now, we would only test symptomatic patients, though that may change as test kit availability changes. We are not able to mail test kits for self-administration due to requirements of specimen handling and shipping. The testing options are changing fluidly, and there may be home kits and drive through options available in the coming days and weeks. The drive through options are popping up in Indianapolis and elsewhere and likely require a physicians order for testing.
Our goal is to make sure that whatever medication proves useful or necessary will be available to people when they need it. If we prescribe medication to people who have no symptoms (and perhaps never will), then we reduce scarce resources so that those who genuinely need the medication will not have it. Equally important, we aim to ensure that we are not inadvertently causing harm to our patients, which could happen if we prescribe medication without sufficient information.
We hope you understand our reasoning. We strive to balance appropriate care and social responsibility with your needs as patients during this pandemic. As always, we invite your questions to our physicians and staff 24/7. We remain healthy and steadfast and stand beside you in weathering this storm.
Be well, and stay safe.
Drs. Fraser, Veatch, Priddy, A. Morris, B. Morris, Schmidt, Szewczyk and staff at Priority Physicians