Latest Clinic News:
COVID-19 Update (3-15-2020)
I want to share some recommendations with each of the members of our practice. I will preface by stating that the recommendations I’m sharing may change quickly as we learn more information and they are not meant to be all encompassing.
As everyone likely knows by now, we are in a pandemic with the novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. We now understand that the United States is behind other countries in detecting widespread infection among the population. I have been asked by some patients about whether and how to get tested for infection. The simple answer is that no testing will be performed on any individual unless you fulfill the CDC requirements (essentially that a person shows signs of this illness and has at least a “high-risk” contact history). I know that there are drive through testing centers opening up in Austin but the same rules apply. Those clinics will obtain specimens with results available after typically 2-3 days. There is not currently a rapid test to detect SARS-Cov-2. Also there is concern about the current tests being not optimally accurate. This means that the result may falsely state negative, when true infection exists, or that the test result is falsely positive when there is no actual infection. I noticed on the news yesterday that President Trump was tested. My suspicion is that he does not have symptoms but underwent testing anyway. I’m sure he will likely have repeat tests since he is after all our President.
The recent “shut-down” of practically every event and function which involves congregation of large groups of people is purposefully to slow the rate of growth of infections to allow our health care system to accommodate people who require hospitalization. It has become our “civic duty” to avoid contact (as much as possible) with those outside of our household at least for the next couple of weeks to contain the spread of this infection. Avoiding all contact is optimal but probably not practical. It is very important to limit exposure to people in all public places, even our close friends. Since we are running out of disinfecting supplies, it may be helpful to use paper towels on door handles or other surfaces you must touch. Always avoid hand shaking and use hand sanitizer often. Be aware that a recent study shows that the virus survives for up to 3 days on surfaces such as plastics and stainless steel. It may also remain floating in the air as an aerosol for several hours after someone has coughed or sneezed. And it may also pass in feces so bathroom hygiene is critical as well.
If you become or think you are becoming ill, check your temperature immediately then a few more times each day. A temperature above 100.8f (38.0C) is considered abnormal by CDC criteria. At that point, treat the symptoms (Tylenol or ibuprofen if your health allows) and self-quarantine in your home to avoid exposure to others. The duration of self-quarantine should be at least 24 hours, but preferably 72 hours after you feel better. Any severe symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid breathing (more than 14 times per minute), fast resting pulse (above 100 beats per minute), confusion, severe weakness should be reported (to me) immediately. I read today that hospitals in New York are turning away patients that do not fulfill CDC criteria for testing and are simply asking patients to self-quarantine.
This week is my children’s spring break and I am not scheduled to be in the office, but our office is open and the staff will reach out to me if needed, and you can always contact me after hours if needed.
COVID-19 Update (3-17-2020)
This is an important update regarding immediate changes to our practice policy regarding office scheduling. Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, and the concern that person to person spread is inevitable, we are changing our office appointment policy to minimize the risk that any of our staff or patients come in contact with SARS-Cov-2, the virus which causes COVID-19 illness.
Today, some of you may have heard that Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler closed all bars and restaurants to the public and recommended that no gatherings of greater than 10 people take place. In alignment with this same concept, we are changing our in-office appointments to only those which absolutely require face to face encounters and encouraging Telehealth visits instead. Telehealth visits can be accomplished with a smart phone, tablet or any computer which is able to provide video calls. The most common Apps used are Apple’s iPhone FaceTime App, Skype and Facebook Messenger. If such a device is not owned by a patient, it can be borrowed from a family member or close friend. Currently, Medicare will reimburse for such visits, and most major insurers will likely follow suit. If your plan denies such service, only an office copay would be charged.
If a patient must be seen in the office, we request that only the patient enter the office lobby for the appointment. If there are any respiratory symptoms or concern of illness with fever, a mask must be worn upon entry, which will be provided outside of the front door. We will schedule these appointments at least one hour apart from other appointments in order to avoid having patients pass by other patients. We will be prohibiting vendors and sales reps from entering our office except for deliveries. These are truly unprecedented times and we greatly appreciate your cooperation with these policy changes. I will attempt to put as much up to date information about office policies and changes on our website at www.leotoupinmd.com. As always, I can be contacted after hours on my mobile number, 512-626-3351. Thank you again, Dr Toupin.