March 9, 2020
Many of our patients have asked about the novel coronavirus and we felt it necessary to address this directly.
SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent for the disease we now call COVID-19. In the past few months we have seen global spread of this virus and as of today there have been 423 total cases and 19 deaths in the United States. Currently, 35 states are reporting cases, including Texas. The closest case to Wichita Falls occurred today in Frisco, TX. This person may be the first known documented case of infection during domestic travel. He had just returned from a trip to California.
This being said, it is no longer a matter of WHETHER we will see this virus, but WHEN. We are committed to taking the best care of our patients possible during this time. For this reason, we are implementing guidelines to help keep ourselves and our patients as safe as possible as the situation develops. Here are some important highlights of our guidelines. You can find the complete algorithm below.
Mild respiratory symptoms
If you have a mild upper respiratory illness (cough, nasal congestion, and/or sore throat) we will ask you to stay at home and implement supportive measures (fluids, cough medicines, and rest). You should avoid public places (such as grocery stores or church functions) until you are feeling better and should wash your hands frequently. Consider staying in one room and bathroom in your house and disinfect these areas frequently, including doorknobs and light switches.
Mild respiratory symptoms WITH fever >100.4ºF
If you have respiratory symptoms such as cough, congestion, and/or sore throat and your temperature is OVER 100.4ºF, please call, text, or email our office so that we can set up a phone visit and determine if you need further care. If we determine that you need testing or need to be seen in the office, we will have you park outside of our office, call us on arrival, and you will be seen inside of your vehicle in the parking lot. Yes, the parking lot. This is the safest way to prevent spread in our office and similar procedures are being implemented all over the country. The same guidelines apply regarding avoiding public places, washing your hands, and confining yourself to one area of your home to avoid infecting others.
Severe respiratory symptoms WITH fever >100.4ºF AND significant shortness of breath
If you are having respiratory symptoms, fever, and are feeling significantly short of breath or having trouble breathing, we will likely refer to the Emergency Room (ER) for further care. The most susceptible to this category of severe infection with COVID-19 are those over the age of 60 and those with underlying health conditions such as lung disease, heart failure, diabetes, or immunocompromise (patients taking steroids, biologic medications, or other immune suppressants, etc). Onset of severe symptoms tends to be around day 8-9 of infection.
IF YOU HAVE TRAVELED TO HIGH RISK AREAS, INCLUDING DOMESTIC TRAVEL, IN THE LAST 2-3 WEEKS AND DEVELOP SYMPTOMS, YOU MAY NEED TO BE TESTED. PLEASE ALERT US BY PHONE OF ANY TRAVEL HISTORY OR POTENTIAL CONTACT WITH PATIENTS UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR COVID-19. FOR NOW, ALL TESTING WILL BE DONE AT THE WICHITA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT AND NOT AT OUR OFFICE.
REMINDERS ON FEVER
Fever is 100.4 F or higher measured by a thermometer. (If you don’t have one, get one!)
“Feeling” a fever isn’t good enough.
There is no such thing as a lower “fever” cutoff based on your baseline temperature.
I cannot be more explicit than this: if we come into contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19, all Clarity Direct Care staff who made contact with that individual will have to quarantine for 14 days. As we are a small practice, 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 attempt to still offer telephone triage and telemedicine visits. We would like to prevent this if at all possible, so please help us do so by staying home if you are sick. We would be happy to write you a work note if needed.
Again, we are putting these guidelines in place to prevent the spread of this illness to the most vulnerable around us. We appreciate your understanding, patience, and effort to keep everyone in our Clarity Direct Care family healthy as we all see our routines altered by this virus.
Please do not hesitate to ask questions or reach out.
Kissi Blackwell, MD
Find out how you can protect yourself and your family here
Find out what to do if you are in a high risk category here
Find out how to mitigate spread in our community here