Information about the novel coronavirus is developing rapidly. We understand that you’ve likely been inundated with messaging this week, and that you may have many remaining questions about what specific steps that you and your family should take. We’d like to take a moment to directly reinforce some critical measures, and talk about how your team at Priority Physicians is responding to local, state, and federal institutional guidelines regarding the pandemic COVID-19 outbreak. Please understand that this situation is fluid, and that our team will be reacting in real-time to evolving circumstances. We remain available at 317-338-6400 (Indy) and 317-415-9900 (Fishers) for your questions at any time, and encourage you to please continue reaching our team as needed.
STEPS TAKEN AT PRIORITY PHYSICIANS
At Priority Physicians we are taking unprecedented precautions for the benefit of our physicians, office staff, and most importantly, our members. Severe illness from COVID-19 is a real threat.. Astonishing insights are surfacing from those who have been working the front lines of this virus, including this post from a close colleague of ours in San Franscisco. The link provides a worthy first-hand account, especially for those who may question the urgency or the gravity of COVID-19.
In response to current WHO and CDC guidelines, and consistent with the recommendations from the Indiana Health Commissioner and Indiana State Department of Health, please note the following:
- Effective immediately Priority Physicians will begin contacting patients to reschedule all non-essential care visits through 4/10/20. These include annual exams, follow-up labs, and general wellness visits. We’ll continue to revise the timetable for this policy as needed as this situation unfolds.
- Office visits that have been scheduled for other medical questions, general illness, or acute care needs will be replaced with scheduled physician calls where possible. Our goal is to remain responsive to patient care needs on our standard same-day basis while also minimizing non-essential foot traffic.
- Essential office visits will continue to be hosted in our offices at Priority Physicians as usual. These will also include scheduled follow-ups for management of controlled medications and scheduled injections.
- It is important to note that we expect you to continue to call with your questions and consult with your physician as normal – These steps reflect how we are adapting to remain available for your real-time needs in this challenging environment!
- Patients exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or concerned about potential exposure should contact our office immediately to be connected with our physicians for guidance. A helpful chart describing distinguishing symptoms of COVID-19 (especially relative to Flu and Common Cold) follows:
SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 INFECTION & IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING THEM
If COVID-19 testing is deemed appropriate, we will make best efforts to direct you to the nearest-known facility with testing capabilities. Testing can require 3-5 days or more for results, though efforts are being made to shorten this timetable. Despite contrary socialized messaging, testing capabilities unfortunately remain extremely limited
at this time and our practice does not have on-site testing available. As a result, current guidance from the Indiana Dept. of Health is to test only the following:
- Those with severe illness with fever and lower respiratory symptoms requiring hospitalization.
- Healthcare workers who are symptomatic with fever and lower respiratory symptoms and have been potentially exposed to at risk patients.
- Long-term care facility residents or prison/jail residents and staff with fever and respiratory illness and otherwise no known COVID-19 contact and are negative for other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza.
If you experience COVID-19 symptoms, have had a direct COVID-19 exposure, or have traveled from a geographic area with community spread, current guidance is as follows:
- Immediately initiate self-quarantine procedures in your home for a period of at least 14 days.
- Contact our office to speak with your physician for additional guidance. While there are no specific treatments beyond using medications to control pain, fever, and cough, our team will do all that we can to help ease discomfort and speed your recovery
CURRENT GENERAL INFORMATION & BEST CAUTIONARY PRACTICES
Although individuals of any age can exhibit severe symptoms, those over age 60 or anyone with complicating factors such as heart disease, diabetes, compromised immune systems, and pregnancy are at increased risk for developing significant complications. It is also important to note that even those who may be infected with mild symptoms can still transmit the disease to others and should follow appropriate safety procedures to quarantine themselves if a suspected positive diagnosis for COVID-19 may exist. If you are ill, isolate yourself and do not go to work or school. Contact our team at Priority Physicians for additional questions and guidance.
There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, and despite what you may have read it will be at least
12 to 18 months before any safe and effective vaccine could be commercially available. Medications are in experimental trials to treat COVID-19 infections with varying reports of success. Current antivirals used to treat other illnesses such as influenza or HIV have not been shown to be effective in treating COVID-19. Antibiotics and steroids have also proven ineffective.
Local, state and federal officials continue to authorize escalating levels of precautionary measures, all of which are aimed at being proactive in helping to slow the spread of the virus and allow healthcare officials and resources to begin to contain and effectively treat the epidemic. Just this week most local school systems have suspended classes through early April, and social distancing measures have dominated the headlines with the cancellation of upcoming sporting events, major conferences and concerts, and other common gathering functions. In light of these developments, we have expanded our guidance to now include the below updated best practices, and remind you all that a firm commitment to prevention remains our best option!
- Although domestic and international travel remains at your discretion, please be aware that additional restrictions for re-entry to the U.S. may develop quickly. We encourage you to plan accordingly and to strongly reconsider any unnecessary travel, using the CDC’s current recommendations for international and domestic travel guidance.
- Ensure that you have sufficient prescription medications on-hand, especially if should you be out of the country for an extended time.
- Social distancing is a critical concept to help minimize the communal transfer of COVID-19. Please avoid large gatherings of people and ensure that your children do the same. This may be particularly important as kids are now out of school for several weeks. Community centers, group entertainment venues, and other common recreational, shopping, or public gathering sites should be avoided.
- Individuals in higher risk situations need to be hyper-vigilant of possible exposure situations, and those around them need to please be mindful of their vulnerability.
- Cancel/Reschedule non-essential medical visits, or consider switching to a tele-visit.
- Perform frequent hand hygiene with soap & water or alcohol-based gel that is at least 60% alcohol by content.
- Avoid touching your eyes and face.
- Keep commonly touched surfaces disinfected with an appropriate sanitizing agent. Click HERE for a list of products that are effective in sanitizing against the COVID-19 virus.
- Be sure not to cough or sneeze in your hands. Instead use a tissue if possible or the crook of your arm or elbow, and wash your hands immediately.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick and maintain at least 6 feet distance from others.
- If you may need to become isolated or self-quarantine, it is important to maintain your social connections with friends and family. Social media, phone calls, texts, and video calls are all critical in remaining connected with those that you love and depend on!
- Please Remember - You don’t need to shut yourself off from public life… Just be vigilant when you enter it!
We encourage you to check CDC.gov
regularly to ensure that you remain informed with the most current updates available. Some helpful links for your use include:
• General Information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• Healthcare Professionals: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/index.html
• Pregnant women and children: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/pregnant-women.html
• Travelers: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html