March 11, 2020
Dear HomeCentris Patient,
As your healthcare provider, we are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and family members. From the beginning of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, we’ve been working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other agencies to stay up to date with the latest information. HomeCentris has a well-developed emergency preparedness plan and we have reviewed the plan with our staff. Below are some highlights to keep you informed. Please know that this information is changing daily, and we will do our best to update this notice.
- According to the CDC: “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.”
- The CDC is now recommending that anyone who has traveled to a Level 3 country – even if they don’t have any symptoms – to self-isolate for 14 days. As of March 9, 2020, these countries include China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. Instructions for self-isolation are on the CDC website here.
- For most patients who may have flu-like symptoms, testing for Coronavirus is still not necessary. There are many reasons why someone may have fever, cough, shortness of breath. If you have severe symptoms that are getting worse, go to an emergency room and mask yourself as soon as you can.
- If you become sick with the virus or if you believe you have been exposed, the CDC advises the you to: (1) stay home except to get medical care, (2) separate yourself from other people and animals in the home as much as possible (in a separate room with the door closed), (3) call ahead before visiting your doctor, (4) inform HomeCentris, and (5) wear a face mask in the presence of others.
- In addition, if you are limiting your exposure to the public, please let us know so we can take the appropriate precautions before we visit you. Please call us at 410-321-8448.
- Finally, we all should be vigilant about the spread of germs – especially during cold and flu season. The best ways to protect yourself and those around you are to:
- Practice Respiratory Etiquette: Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your bent elbow.
- Practice Hand Hygiene:Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60% to 95% alcohol.
- Take Environmental Health Action: Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects like cellphones, keyboards and doorknobs.
- The Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) and Medicare have advised Home Health Agencies to continue seeing patients in their homes during this outbreak. We will follow that guidance.
- We are following our standard “infection control” policies and procedures for the COVID-19 virus. The CDC has advised that good hand hygiene and other normal infection control procedures are the best practice to limit the spread of this virus. Please click here to see the guidance we have given our staff.
- We have begun screening patients prior to admission and before each visit to determine if the patient or any family members may be sick or have traveled to high-risk areas. In those cases, we expect to continue seeing patients, but we will ask the patient to wear a mask during our visit. In addition, if a family member is sick or is identified as a high-risk, we will ask that person to move to another room during our visit to prevent the spread of the virus.
- If any of our staff experience symptoms of COVID-19 or are diagnosed, we have instructed them to remain at home and stop performing home visits.
- For patients that become infected, please know that our staff will wear protective equipment when performing your visits. This may include a mask, eye protection, and/or protective gowns. We are doing this to prevent the spread to our staff or to our other patients.
- Our operations are completely mobile and should continue uninterrupted in the event we are instructed to close our offices. Our clinicians have mobile tablets to access your medical information and continue visits. In addition, our staff, both office staff and clinicians, can perform every aspect of their job from home if necessary. Our telephone system, our medical records, our faxing and emailing capabilities are all web-based and available from anywhere. We should be able to continue your treatment plan without interruption.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. What is my risk of contracting Coronavirus?
A. According to the CDC: “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.
Q. I have recently traveled from a Level 3 country – and I have flu-like symptoms.
A. If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and develop fever with cough, shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, please stay home and call your doctor.
Q. I don’t have symptoms, but I’d like to be tested. Where can I go for testing?
A. At this time, testing is being completed with a physician order and for patients who meet certain criteria, as provided by the CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health. If you have not traveled to a Level 3 country, do not have knowledge of coming into contact with a diagnosed case of COVID-19 and are not showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, there is no clinical reason for testing.
Q. I think I have been exposed to COVID-19. Should I come to the emergency room?
A. If you are in respiratory distress, call 911 immediately. If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and develop fever with cough, or shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, please stay home and call your doctor.
Q. Are patients and family members safe with your staff? Is it safe to keep my scheduled appointments?
A. Yes, it is safe. When a patient with an infectious disease presents at HomeCentris, we have the staff, and proper processes and protocols in place to take care of them and keep everyone safe (other patients, visitors, staff members and family). Currently, our staff has the personal protective equipment and the necessary training to care for all of our patients, regardless of their ailment. In addition, none of our staff has traveled out of the country in the last 14 days. There is no need to cancel or reschedule an appointment. If you have a question or concern, call our office at 410-321-8448.
Q. I’d like to limit my exposure until this outbreak passes. May I reschedule my appointments?
A. You may. However, please be aware that your physician has ordered your home health services and we are following his/her direction. If you would like to postpone your home health services, either you or HomeCentris will need to get the approval of your doctor and obtain those orders in writing. Please call our office to discuss this if you would like to follow this course. 410-321-8448.
Q. What can I do to protect myself, my family and my community?
A. The CDC recommends individuals and families follow everyday preventive measures:
Voluntary Home Isolation: Stay home when you are sick with infectious respiratory disease symptoms. At the present time, these symptoms are more likely due to influenza or other respiratory viruses than to COVID-19-related virus.
Respiratory Etiquette: Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your bent elbow.
Hand Hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
Environmental Health Action: Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
Flu shot. If you have not received a flu shot, while it won’t protect from COVID-19, it is your best protection for the flu.
Q. If I am an older adult which may be in a high risk group, what other information can I have?
A. The Maryland Department of Health released some information regarding COVID-19 and older adults. You may find that information by clicking here.
They also released a series of videos to help older adults and you can find them here: Videos