Lompoc Health COVID-19 Update and TeleVisits

in LVMC News

We want to update you on the latest information regarding COVID-19, as well as provide our best recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus, based upon guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations. Please keep in mind that the guidance and recommendations from these organizations continue to evolve and are subject to change. Also, we’re pleased to announce Lompoc Health patients now have access to TeleVisits with many of our providers.

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We want to update you on the latest information regarding COVID-19, as well as provide our best recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus, based upon guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations. Please keep in mind that the guidance and recommendations from these organizations continue to evolve and are subject to change. Also, we’re pleased to announce Lompoc Health patients now have access to TeleVisits with many of our providers.

COVID-19 is a dangerous virus that spreads more easily than the flu or other viruses. Although it carries a higher mortality rate than influenza, the majority of patients, of all ages, do not become severely ill. We at Lompoc Health, want you to know the signs and symptoms. They are: fever, weakness, cough, and shortness of breath. In some cases, patients experience soft stool or diarrhea. Although it is challenging to differentiate COVID-19 from other cold and flu viruses, there are a few features that are consistent and can help with the diagnosis. COVID-19 typically affects the lower respiratory tract, i.e., chest and lungs. Typical viral infections affect the upper respiratory tract causing a runny nose, sore throat, and sinus congestion symptoms. About 15% of COVID-19 infected patients go on to develop pneumonia in the second week of illness. 

Due to the difficulty we have in differentiating COVID-19 from Influenza or other forms of viral upper respiratory illnesses and the limitations on testing, we have been given the following guidelines from the CDC and County Public Health:  

Any patient with upper or lower respiratory symptoms, whether COVID-19 is considered likely or not, is expected to remain in self-quarantine until all 3 of the following criteria below are met: 

  1. At least seven days have passed since the onset of symptoms.
  2. Fevers have been resolved for at least three days without Tylenol or other fever control medicine.
  3. At least three days have passed since respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved. 

Our goals are to screen patients who have symptoms of COVID-19 and identify those who are developing severe respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain, as well as isolating patients showing symptoms of COVID-19 in order to prevent incidental spread to other patients and healthcare workers.

Recommendations for All of Our Patients

  • If you are feeling unwell, but believe that you do not need to see a doctor immediately, we ask that you stay at home and rest. Please call to reschedule your appointment.
  • However, if your symptoms are severe, such as shortness of breath, profound weakness, or chest pain, call 911 or go to the Emergency Room. If your symptoms are not severe, but you feel like you need to be evaluated, please call for an appointment with the Urgent Care at (805) 737-8786. Typically, you will be able to have an appointment on the same day or the next day.
  • Most of our Providers are offering TeleVisits by video or by phone for patients who do not want to come into the clinic for a traditional evaluation. If you would like to convert an upcoming appointment to a TeleVisit or if you want to schedule a new TeleVisit, please call your respective clinic.
    • TeleVisits are appropriate for monitoring of stable ongoing medical conditions or refills of current medications. If further diagnostic evaluation is needed, you will be advised by your Provider during the phone or TeleVisit.
  • When entering the clinic prior to your appointment, please use hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water. We also have hand sanitizer available at all front desk locations.
  • Wash your hands after coming in contact with high touch surfaces in public places, such as: card reader pads at grocery stores, groceries, doorknobs, gas pumps, etc. Also, practice regular cleaning of your personal cell phones.
  • Avoid touching your face. This will reduce the risk of infection for you and others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 
  • Avoid shaking hands and hugging others to avoid the spread of any virus.

COVID-19 Testing

Currently, COVID-19 testing is available. Lompoc Health clinics facilitate COVID-19 testing based upon screening criteria established by Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. Presently, all samples collected are sent out of state for processing resulting in delayed results. No hospitals or medical clinics in Santa Barbara County perform on-site COVID-19 testing. For those who meet the criteria, specimens are collected on-site and then sent to either a Public Health Department laboratory (1-2 day turnaround), or a commercial laboratory (4-5 day turnaround). Be advised that turnaround times have been taking even longer than these stated times. Very recently, alternatives have been advanced for more testing capacity, quicker turnaround times, and the possibility of on-site testing at local hospital laboratories, including LVMC. Updated COVID-19 testing information will be provided when available.

What We Are Doing to Help Protect Our Patients:

  • We are closely monitoring and implementing as appropriate, the COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California Department of Public Health, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, and other organizations.
  • We have enhanced the cleaning protocols for all our facilities, especially waiting room areas, patient exam rooms, bathrooms, doorknobs, etc. We are also cleaning our facilities more frequently with recommended sanitizing products.
  • We are instructing any of our employees who feel ill to stay home. We are also instructing all of our employees to be vigilant about frequent hand washing and other infection prevention measures, including the proper use of personal protective equipment.
  • We are offering interactive video TeleVisits through Doxy.Me. Using a telehealth platform like Doxy.Me, you will have the option to stay at home and interact with your Physician, Physician Assistant, or Nurse Practitioner through a secure online patient portal. You can schedule a TeleVisit by calling your clinic and asking for a TeleVisit. 

 We remain committed to providing access to quality medical care through the entirety of this crisis. Your health, as well as the health of your family and our entire community, is our highest priority. We appreciate the trust you have placed in Lompoc Health. Please visit lompochealth.com for more information and updates.

Sincerely,

Randall G. Michel, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Chief Medical Officer
Lompoc Valley Medical Center
Paul Fry PA-C
Director of Ambulatory Services
Lompoc Health

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Author: Paul Fry, Director of Ambulatory Services

Physician Assistant Paul Fry is the Director of Ambulatory Services at LVMC: Physician Services. Fry has been in clinical practice as a Physician Assistant since 2000 and has worked at LVMC since 2011.

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