As the community spread of COVID-19 increases in California and the state experienced its first COVID-19 death, we are getting more questions from our front office and provider teams about procedures related to interacting with sick or potentially sick patients in the offices. We have a task force assembled to meet on Monday, March 9 to further refine our short- and long-term risk mitigation strategy and will share an update with you all on Tuesday. In the meantime, we ask that you review the below information to help keep our offices healthy and to keep any stress related to COVID-19 at bay to the extent possible.
How widespread is COVID-19 in the US?
As of today, the US has 260 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 14 deaths confirmed. Remember, while COVID-19 has a high transmission rate, the vast majority of people affected recover fully.
CDC’s current risk assessment as of March 3, 2020 is as follows
For most of the American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated, though still relatively low risk of exposure.
Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.
How should we handle sick patients?
**Additional information to come next week
Please add the following advisory in reminder calls:
If the patient or caregiver bringing patient to the appointment has traveled outside of country within last 14 days or has any recent fever or respiratory concerns, they should convert to a telemedicine appointment or reschedule to a future date.
Patients and/or caregivers should be asked upon check-in whether they have traveled outside of country within last 14 days or have any recent fever or respiratory concerns? If yes, immediately convert the appointment to telemedicine or reschedule to a future date. Make sure that the “Cover Your Cough” sign (attached) is posted and tissue and hand sanitizer are available in the waiting room
Sick employees should stay home until they are fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines. Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
Sick employees may be sent home. If you have a cough or are sneezing, you should cover your nose and mouth with a tissue (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.
What if I have plans to travel out of the country?
Please inform your supervisor and Human Resources if you intend to travel to a country under travel advisory by the CDC so that we can plan appropriately for your return by following guidance from the CDC.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious about COVID-19 and need someone to talk to, please contact our EAP provider Halcyon at 888-425-4800 or access them online at http://halcyoneap.com/ with the user name: cpsych. They offer this tip sheet on Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks.