A COVID-19 message from your physicians and from the leadership at Austin Regional Clinic
March 14, 2020
Please stay safe out there. We are reaching out to you so that you can be aware, informed, and prepared.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) remains a fluid situation, now close to home, and we want to acknowledge the concern that affects and impacts all of us.
Our priority is the health and safety of our patients and employees. To stay on top of all the developments, ARC leadership meets daily and has been actively planning for several weeks.
After the recent news of the patients in the Austin community with presumptive positive tests, we quickly moved into our next stage of planning that includes the following:
- Continuing to develop plans for how to appropriately care for all of our patients for both sick and routine visits, while minimizing exposure;
- Preparing to offer telemedicine options; and
- Continuing to prepare and train our clinical staff to ensure a safe environment.
Your health is always our priority. Our relationship is a partnership and during these unprecedented circumstances we need to envision what it feels like to be in each other’s shoes. Our doctors and staff are also looking for childcare, thinking about their parents, and doing everything they can so they can show up everyday to be on the front lines to care for our communities throughout Central Texas.
When you wait a long time on hold, it’s because the person on the other end has been answering calls non-stop and is trying to respond to everyone’s needs with care. When you are standing in a long line, the people at the front desk may not have taken a break because they are covering for staff who are out. We appreciate your patience and understanding with any changes we make in the coming days.
We are in this together and can all play a part in keeping each other—our loved ones, friends, and communities—healthy and safe.
In good health,
Anas Daghestani, MD, CEO Austin Regional Clinic
Norman Chenven, MD, Founding CEO Austin Regional Clinic
Jay Zdunek, DO, Chief Medical Officer Austin Regional Clinic
What you need to know about COVID-19
To keep you and your family healthy and prepared, informed and safe, you can stay up to date on the latest developments by reading our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the ARC website. This page is updated daily with the latest information on the status of COVID-19 and resources.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.
What are the symptoms?
Most people, especially children and those under 60 with no chronic medical conditions, who contract COVID-19 develop very mild symptoms that include fever, a dry cough, fatigue. A minority of people will develop more advanced symptoms such as shortness of breath.
The World Health Organization (WHO) found that nasal congestion occurs in only 4.8% of patients and runny nose in almost no one. Some people, usually with additional medical complications, can develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia.
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs* include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face.
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Do I need to go to the ER?
No, If you don't have any emergency warning signs. Call your primary doctor at the first sign of symptoms. This will help limit the spread of the virus in our community. It will also allow emergency departments to care for patients with the most critical needs first.
How can I protect myself and my family?
Everyday preventive measures are effective; the same ones that prevent the spread of colds and the flu:
- Stay home if you are sick. Self-isolation, until your symptoms resolve and up to 14 days helps to prevent spreading, especially avoid contact with those over 60 and/or with additional serious chronic medical conditions.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Put your used tissue in a waste basket and wash your hands. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Practice social distancing by avoiding large crowds.
- Avoid handshakes, hugs, and kisses. Learn how to greet without exposure.
- Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
How important is it to practice social distancing now?
We should be practicing social distancing now that we have known cases in Austin, to minimize the spread of the virus. When we stay away from many people we deprive the virus the opportunity to move from one person to another. What does that mean in everyday actions?
- Stay at home as much as possible.
- Avoid gathering in public places.
- Get your exercise outside rather than in a space with groups of people.
- Take advantage of grocery delivery and pick up services or shop when it is less crowded.
- Keep 6 -10 feet away from other people.
- Avoid handshakes, hugs, and kisses. Learn how to greet without exposure.
Social distancing feels awkward and unnatural. We are social beings who need human interaction, so this call to distance ourselves from each other will be difficult. It has proved successful in places like Hong Kong and Singapore where they were able to flatten out the curve, unlike in Italy where it has overwhelmed their healthcare resources. The best we can do is learn from others' success.
What can I do to reduce stress and anxiety?
- Give yourself a break from screens: watching the news, social media, your smart phone.
- Take deep breaths, eat healthy, outdoor exercise, and get plenty of rest.
- Do activities you enjoy (keeping in mind the social distancing measures above).
- Connect with friends and family online or by phone, or in person if everyone is feeling healthy and symptom-free.
What is ARC doing to protect patients?
- To prevent the spread of the germs, we are asking all patients with a cough or respiratory symptoms to wear a face mask.
- We continue to disinfect exam rooms and all other clinic areas. This includes surfaces, door handles, grab bars, and stethoscopes.
- We also ask that you use eCheck-in through ARC MyChart to fill out necessary paperwork before your visit to avoid transmitting germs with pens at the front desk.
Can anybody get tested for COVID-19?
ARC follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. We test high-risk patients with fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and travel from the Level 3 zones or exposure to a positive COVID-19 patient.
If you are not at high risk we will advise you on treating your symptoms. We have many patients who are asking to be tested to rule out COVID-19. We appreciate your understanding at this time for helping us conserve our limited supplies for the patients most at risk.
Where do I go to get tested if I have fever, dry cough, and suspect COVID-19?
Book an appointment by phone or online, and notify the schedulers about your symptoms and why you suspect COVID-19. You will be asked to place a mask when arriving to the clinic unless you have one already. If you are deemed high risk, your ARC care team will swab your nose and throat in our offices and send the samples to one of the labs that run the test.
You do not have to be an established ARC patient to make an appointment. We have availability during the day, in the evenings, and on weekends. Phone schedulers are available 24/7.
Call any clinic and press “1” to schedule an appointment.
How much does the test cost?
Right now the state labs are not charging patients for the test. Most insurance plans have said they will cover the tests at commercial labs, Please check with your insurance provider for confirmation.
How long does it take to get the results?
Currently it takes 2-4 days to receive results from any of the labs.
Will I see my results in ARC MyChart?
Yes, after your ARC care team calls you with your results, you will be able to see it in ARC MyChart.
Where can I find up to date credible details and updates?