Coronavirus: What you should know
Note: Now scheduling annual visits and more in-person appointments! We are open, serving patients, and here to help. If you have not had COVID symptoms or exposure, you can come in and see us for your scheduled appointment. We ask that you wear a mask and only bring up to 1 guest, if necessary and if your practice allows. If you think you need to cancel, please call us first. We also offer video-based telemedicine so you can stay home and still receive care! Check with your practice to learn more.
We’re Here to Help
Last updated date: 05/18/2021
We are here to help keep you and your family healthy and safe as we navigate Coronavirus (COVID-19) together. We understand you probably have a lot of questions right now, from how to stay healthy to if it’s safe to come in for your scheduled doctor’s appointments. As we collaborate with government agencies and health departments, we will continue to update this post with the latest information and guidance for Advantia Health patients and our partners.
For more information that is regularly updated, please visit The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 website. This has many helpful resources and answers including:
- What you can do to PREVENT getting sick, like cleaning your hands often, not touching your face, and practicing social distancing, which means avoiding close contact with others and groups, especially those who are sick.
- What to do if you ARE sick, like staying home unless you need to get medical care.
Here are topics our patients have had questions about that might also help you:
How does the virus spread and what are the symptoms?
COVID-19 is spread through close personal contact (like shaking hands or touching a surface with the virus on it). Symptoms can range from very mild to severe and are similar to many other illnesses like the flu, which makes it hard to know if you have it. That’s why having a history of travel or being exposed to someone who has COVID-19 is an important way to tell the difference. Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms typically appear 2-14 days after exposure and based on current data, many cases are mild, and people fully recover.
Am I at risk for COVID-19?
For most people, the immediate risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 is thought to be low. However, if you have a history of recent travel to an area with an outbreak, you may be at higher risk. If you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 then you may also be at higher risk. If this is the case, stay home for 14 days and seek care if you start to experience symptoms. Smart habits like frequent hand washing and social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from other people) will also lower your risk of getting sick.
Out of hand sanitizer? Don’t worry, washing your hands for 30 seconds with warm water and soap is effective in preventing the virus. Cleaning your cell phone with a disinfecting wipe is another great habit to practice!
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
If you have the symptoms listed above, please contact your primary care provider who can advise you on whether you need testing and what you should do next. If you do feel sick, we first suggest self-quarantining to help avoid spreading the virus. In all cases, follow the guidance of your healthcare provider AND your local health department. Based on CDC guidance right now and given limited testing capabilities, we recommend prioritizing testing for the following high-risk individuals who:
- Have been in close contact (within 6 feet for more than several minutes) with someone who has a confirmed case of the virus
- Work in healthcare and have had prolonged exposure to COVID-19 patients
- Are older adults and/or those with chronic medical conditions
What do I do if I need a doctor’s note to work from home?
Please call the office for a doctor’s note should you need one and we will do our best to get you one.
Should I avoid traveling right now?
Our government is currently discouraging any nonessential travel and has issued travel advisories for many countries. This is especially important for the elderly and anyone with serious medical conditions, and cruise travel is specifically advised against because of increased risk of spread in this environment.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Our practice is committed to providing a safe environment for our staff, patients and everyone who visits us. To meet this commitment, we support the COVID-19 vaccine and are aligned with local, state, and federal requirements, ACOG recommendations and our hospital partners. We agree with the CDC’s guidance that vaccination is especially important for healthcare personnel, which includes all people serving in a healthcare setting. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, we recommend talking to your doctor to determine if vaccination is right for you, as vaccine trials have excluded pregnant and lactating women.
For more detailed information, please visit ACOG’s COVID-19 FAQs for pregnant and breastfeeding patients as well as the CDC’s FAQs about COVID-19 vaccination.
Coming into Our Clinics
Should I come in for my appointment?
Our clinics are currently open for many in-person visits and all are also offering telemedicine video consultations. Some states have started easing healthcare restrictions as they begin to gradually reopen. Visits that we are able to offer vary slightly based on guidance from each State Department of Health. If you have a visit scheduled and have not had virus symptoms or recent exposure, please know you can come in and see us for your scheduled appointment. If you are worried and think you need to cancel, call us first and let us tell you about how we are making sure everyone stays safe. This is especially important for our pregnant patients, as we recommend you continue your planned prenatal care to ensure you stay on track for a healthy pregnancy.
If you are scheduled for a non-urgent appointment, note your appointment might be eligible for telemedicine. Call your office to see if a video-based appointment is an option. Common appointments that are offered through telemedicine include: contraception counseling, Coronavirus (COVID-19) screening, reviewing lab results, refilling prescriptions, mental wellness counseling, and more.
How are you keeping your clinics safe and preventing the spread of the virus?
We want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to keep you safe and to stop the virus from spreading. We are taking many steps to ensure everyone’s safety, including:
- Conducting frequent deep cleanings of our facilities with medical-grade disinfectants and cleaning products (including cleaning each room between patient appointments).
- Screening all patients, providers, and employees before they come into our clinics.
- Using PPE (personal protective equipment) for safety when appropriate.
- Requiring all patients and guests (if permitted at your practice) to wear a mask.
- Requiring social distancing in our waiting rooms and offices.
Do I need to wear a mask or face covering to my appointment?
We will continue to adhere to CDC guidance relating to the wearing of PPE in our medical offices. To keep you and our employees safe, we require that all patients come to in-person appointments wearing a mask or face covering. This applies whether or not you have symptoms of an infection. If you happen to have a mask (like a medical “loop” mask), please wear one. If you do not, we recommend you wear a scarf or a bandana. The CDC offers detailed instructions and best practices for cloth face coverings. Importantly, a cloth face covering should:
- be snug against your face
- be secured with ties or ear loops
- include multiple layers of fabric
- allow you to breathe without restriction
- be able to be laundered without being damage/changing shape
We will have some medical masks available at our practices and will prioritize these for symptomatic and also pregnant patients, but given that masks are in short supply, we cannot guarantee one for each patient. At this time we are also asking all of our providers and staff members to wear a mask for their own and your safety.
Can I bring anyone with me to my appointment?
For the continued safety of patients, physicians, staff and the community, all Advantia Health practices have implemented visitor/escort restrictions. Please contact your provider’s office directly to learn about their current visitor/escort limits.
Getting Virtual Care
Can I change my scheduled appointment to a call or video (telemedicine) visit?
All of our clinics now offer telemedicine appointments. Depending on the reason for your visit, we might be able to provide care virtually and help you avoid any unnecessary trips to one of our clinics. Simply call your office to schedule a video-based appointment with your provider today.
Common appointments that are offered through telemedicine include: contraception counseling, Coronavirus (COVID-19) screening, reviewing lab results, refilling prescriptions, mental wellness counseling, and more.
Telemedicine: What to Expect
- Many insurance companies don’t require copays for telemedicine visits right now
- Our providers can screen you for COVID-19 virtually to determine if you need testing
- If you have an annual exam scheduled, you can receive preventive care virtually now and come in later for a physical exam (if you need a pap smear, etc.)
- Telemedicine is private and easy to use
- All you need is a smartphone or a computer with a camera!
Please note: you can still come in for an in-person visit for OB and urgent care needs that can’t be completed virtually.
Pregnancy & Prenatal Care
What if I am pregnant? Am I at an increased risk?
At this time, we do not know if pregnant women are more likely or at a higher risk than the rest of the general public. Currently, available data has not provided direct evidence that COVID-19 increases the risk of miscarriage, increases risk of early pregnancy loss, or is passed to the baby during pregnancy. However, we do know that pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that can increase their risk of infection and the severity of their illness, like with the flu or respiratory infections. Because we are still learning about COVID-19, we recommend that you take all of the same precautions as the general public, as well as continue with your prenatal appointments and care. Don’t hesitate to call your provider’s office if you have any questions or concerns.
You might also be thinking about vitamins and nutrition to help avoid getting sick. Know that a well rounded diet along with your prenatal vitamin has everything your body needs. You can also take Vitamin C or eat foods with Vitamin C like oranges, kiwis and strawberries.
Advantia Health Practices
Ob-Gyn & Associates
Advantia OB-GYN Shady Grove
Simmonds, Martin & Helmbrecht
Women’s Health Specialists
Reiter, Hill & Johnson
Physicians & Midwives
Women’s Health and Surgery Center
Reiter, Hill & Johnson
Reiter, Hill & Johnson
Illinois & Missouri
Heartland Women’s Healthcare