COVID-19: Things to Know
Are CoxHealth clinics open and seeing patients?
Yes, CoxHealth clinics are ready to serve patients for emerging and ongoing health needs. We know COVID-19 concerns have made many patients apprehensive about visiting their doctor or the hospital. However, for some, delaying or neglecting medical care can be a serious risk. We want to assure you we’re prepared to care for patients in a safe environment and have quick access in our clinics and urgent cares. Please don’t delay seeking medical care when it’s needed:
We’re here and ready to see you.
Are we doing anything special from a safety perspective?
Our priority is ensuring that patients have a safe experience when they visit CoxHealth facilities. We’ve always had rigorous cleaning protocols in place, but we’ve now increased how often cleaning is done. In some cases, high-touch areas – such as door handles and elevator buttons – are cleaned four times as often as they were before.
Other efforts include screening and checking the temperature of patients and employees before they enter a CoxHealth location; masking all employees; adjusting waiting areas so that seats are at least 6 feet apart; requesting patients wait in their cars for appointments at some locations; and expanding Virtual Visits, providing primary and specialty care visits from home.
How is COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that primarily spreads from person to person, such as when someone coughs or sneezes. This happens more frequently when people are 6 feet or less apart from one another, which is why limiting the size of groups of people is important to stopping spread of the virus.
What are lasting impacts from COVID-19?
Given how new this virus is, we’re still learning about what possible outcomes are for individuals who contract it. Thankfully, there are many patients who experience no or mild symptoms. However, this virus can cause severe and fatal issues in other patients. Many of these involve respiratory distress and require hospitalization. While widespread studies have yet to be confirmed, current data shows other effects, including damage to organs and other body systems. These unknowns are one reason why it’s important to be very cautious with this virus.
Who should be tested and how is the test done?
When concerns around COVID-19 began to rise, access to testing was a problem in many areas of the region. This access has expanded, making it much easier for someone to get a test if their provider feels it’s necessary. If someone exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever, shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and loss of taste or smell, they can use CoxHealth’s Virtual Visits On Demand to receive an evaluation from a provider. If your provider determines a test is needed, they’ll refer the patient to a testing location.
Most tests are done using a nasal swab and take only a few seconds. Patients will be contacted with their results when they’re available.
If someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, they’ll receive instructions on how to move forward with care. The patient’s local health department will also likely do contact tracing. This is performed to determine if others may be at risk from contracting the virus and is based on interactions in the days prior to diagnosis. The health department will do appropriate notifications if necessary.
What constitutes “close contact”?
“Close contact” refers to anyone who is within 6 feet of other people for a prolonged period of time and those who have been in contact with an infected individual’s secretions. In this case, “prolonged” is up to the interpretation of local health authorities looking into the situation. They determine what amount of time makes the most sense.
Why should I wear a mask in public?
Wearing a mask helps protect people around you from the virus. Given the range of symptoms related to COVID-19, there are many instances when people don’t realize they’re ill but can still pass along the virus to others. If everyone wears a mask, it helps us protect each other.
What is the effectiveness of antibody testing?
Antibody testing involves testing an individual’s blood to see if a sample contains antibodies, which are produced when someone has fought the virus. In other viruses, the presence of antibodies can mean that an individual has some immunity. It’s unknown at this time if this is true of COVID-19 or how reliable antibody testing is.
CoxHealth does not currently offer antibody testing.
Why shouldn’t groups of people gather?
There’s a period of time when people infected with COVID-19 show no symptoms or such mild symptoms that they don’t even notice – but they can still give the virus to other people. Sitting or standing in close proximity to others increases the chance of transmission, given that one cough or sneeze could infect whoever is within a fairly large space around the person.
Science is also starting to show that this virus can be spread through the air, which means that it could be passed to others for up to several hours after someone coughs or sneezes. Having groups of people in one place greatly increases the chance that someone in that group has the virus, even if they don’t know it. If they do, they could pass it to many people at one time. Avoiding gathering in groups is a good way to help reduce the possible spread of COVID-19. Group gatherings could exponentially increase the amount of cases in southwest Missouri.
What should I do if I have any COVID-19 symptoms?
The list of COVID-19 symptoms is evolving, but right now, the main symptoms include cough, fever of 100.4 or greater, shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and loss of taste or smell. If you or a loved one has any of these symptoms, please utilize Virtual Visits On Demand to see a health care provider. If you need a test, you’ll be referred to your closest location.