A Message to our Patients Regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
As the COVID-19 virus pandemic progresses, we are gaining new information on a daily basis and the situation is constantly changing. There is a lot of information available on the internet and social media and it can be confusing and frightening indeed. Perhaps the best site for up to date and accurate information is the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
For our patients, there are a number of special concerns that I wish to address.
Our office practice will continue to do everything possible to maintain a safe environment for all our patients:
- We frequently sanitize the waiting rooms and the entrance doors throughout the day
- The examining rooms are sanitized after each patient visit
- For patients scheduled for infusion therapies, we will offer entrance via our side office door, so they can bypass the waiting room.
- Each infusion room will be washed down and sanitized prior to and following every treatment.
- Each patient receiving an infusion treatment will be treated alone in the room.
- We have alcohol-based sanitizing solution and access to handwashing sinks for patients upon entry and exit.
What about going to the doctor’s office for an appointment?
In our office, since we are a specialty practice, we do not anticipate a particular risk or additional exposure to coronavirus. Primary care practices, emergency rooms, and urgent care centers are more likely to see patients that may have been exposed to Covid-19 or other respiratory viruses. Keep in mind, though that those clinical centers are taking extra measures to protect patients. Still, plan on such visits, only if truly necessary If you are scheduled for a routine visit, it may be prudent to postpone that appointment until things settle down in our community. Please give us a call if you have questions about an office visit. In some instances, we may be able to handle a visit via telephone or video call.
I am on a biologic medication. Should I stop the treatment?
No, you should continue your treatment. While it is true that the use of immune-suppressive medications increases the risk of contracting coronavirus, as well as the risk of serious illness as a result, it is also true that it is important to control your condition. Whether you have rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis or another chronic inflammatory disease, it is more important that your disease be well controlled. If you discontinue treatment and experience a flare of your condition, your vulnerability to infection will be even greater.
This is also true with regard to other medications such as prednisone, methotrexate, or leflunomide.
But in all cases, you should be very zealous about your efforts to reduce your exposure and risk. Avoid public outings and gatherings unless absolutely necessary. And follow closely all the recommendations noted below and those promoted by the CDC and local health departments.
Remember to follow the care practices to reduce one’s risk of contracting Coronavirus
The current CDC recommendations suggest that one should avoid going out into crowded public places, unless really necessary. But we still need to go to work, go shopping, send our kids to school, participate in essential public daily activities. We should continue to do so! But when doing so, be careful to follow the precautions, as advised.
- Frequent hand washing (20-30 seconds with soap)
- Regular use of at least 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizers ( most of these products have been out of stock, under the circumstances, so as an alternative, simply take rubbing alcohol and douse tissue or napkin products and us it as a hand wipe)
- Try not to touch your face, especially while out in public. This can be challenging!
- Carry tissues or a handkerchief to allow for face touching, if you must. This is also useful when using doors and handles in public places.
- Don’t shake hands with people—use elbow greetings instead
- If you cough or sneeze, do so into your inner elbow, not your hands.
Should I/Can I get tested?
This is a big problem right now. In our office, we have no access to COVID-19 testing at present.
This may change soon, as it is expected that more tests will be available soon. One problem is that there may not be enough tests available for all of those who want one, and the criteria for choosing whom to test is changing. Currently, we can test for flu or strep throat, but not Covid-19. right now, we have to refer you to the hospital or health department in order to get tested. A number of questions remain: will insurance cover the cost? Who gets tested? Lots of us are concerned but we simply can’t test everyone who wants the test. Right now, there has to be a reasonable indication for testing-symptoms ( fever, cough, malaise) and possible exposure to someone or someplace where Covid-19 has been identified, or travel to one of the identified countries( China, Korea, Italy, Iran).
Are There supplements that I can/should consider to reduce my risk?
While there are no proven supplements that are generally recommended in this setting, we do have available in the office and can make available to patients some of the herbal, vitamin and nutraceutical products that are often recommended to boost immune function, pose antiviral activity, and may be useful to reduce your risk. If you are interested in considering one or more of these, please contact our office.