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Coronavirus - General FAQ

CORONAVIRUS FAQ

LAST UPDATED: APR 28, 2020


What is the coronavirus and COVID-19?

Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1950s and generally cause mild upper respiratory illness characterized by cough, fever, and/or body aches. This is very similar to most viral illnesses including flu and the common cold. 

The current situation involves a new, or “novel,” coronavirus and the illness it causes is called COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). Because this virus is new, testing has been limited; there are no vaccines and no medicines designed specifically to treat it.

Am I at risk for coronavirus?

The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. As the pandemic expands, the risk of exposure will increase, and all persons are at risk for getting infected. Older adults and people of all ages who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, seem to be at higher risk of more serious illness due to COVID-19.  
 

What can we do to reduce the spread of the disease?

Everyone should be maximizing “social and physical distancing” to slow down the spread of COVID-19, as the disease is now in the community and can be spread by people who may not have symptoms.  Here are things you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the community:

  • Stay home unless it is necessary to go to work, purchase necessary items, help someone who needs support, or seek medical care.
  • Do not visit friends, gather in groups or otherwise socialize in person.  Use virtual technologies to stay connected.
  • If you need medical care, call in advance.  You may be able to get care virtually by telemedicine.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public settings where other social and physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies)
     

What are the symptoms caused by coronavirus?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

With allergy season here, it’s important to remember the symptoms of allergies differ from that of coronavirus or a viral infection. Common allergy symptoms include sneezing, itchy eyes or nose, runny or stuffy nose, and watery, red, or swollen eyes.

 

Can the coronavirus be treated?

Since this is a new virus, there are no established treatments.  There are several medications that are being tested in the most ill patients in hospitals.   Since it is unknown whether the benefits of these medications outweigh the risks, mild infections are treated in the same way as the common cold or flu with medications to relieve the symptoms of cough, congestion, and fever.


What should I do if I am experiencing symptoms? 

If you are in respiratory distress, call 911. If you have a fever, cough, and other symptoms of respiratory infection, call Summit Medical Group at 908-273-4300. Our team can help direct you to the appropriate site of care based on your symptoms and medical history such as recent international travel or exposure to someone with coronavirus.  Most persons with mild symptoms are best managed at home. For these people, coming to health care facilities may increase their risk of infection.  Those with higher risk or those who have more significant symptoms may be directed to an urgent care for evaluation. 

If you are concerned, call your primary care doctor or​ the Summit Medical Group at 908-273-4300.  Video visits for are available to help evaluate patients with symptoms and/or questions.

We have established screening procedures at our main campuses that will route symptomatic patients to screening areas, our Urgent Care Centers or to our partner, CityMD Urgent Care. These screening procedures are designed to keep healthy patients healthy, to ensure the safety of our teams, and to keep our offices operational. ​
 

Can I come in and be tested for coronavirus?

For those patients who are experiencing fever, shortness of breath, persistent cough and body aches, we recommend a video visit to evaluate your condition.

Testing supplies are very limited across the nation. And, testing is based on strict criteria.  If you are experiencing mild cold or flu-like symptoms or are among the “worried well” and would like to be tested for peace of mind, we understand your concerns, but we cannot and will not test you. Please call your provider or 908-273-4300 for evaluation.  We can help you determine the way to manage your symptoms. 

The best treatment for mild symptoms is:

  • Stay home
  • Isolate yourself
  • Treat with over-the-counter medicines*
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Continue with this regimen until you feel healthy

If your symptoms worsen to include fever for more than 3 days or shortness of breath/difficulty breathing and body aches, you should visit the nearest Summit Medical Group Urgent Care Center or CityMD Urgent Care location for evaluation and treatment.

IF YOU ARE TESTED FOR COVID-19, RESULTS MAY TAKE A WEEK OR MORE DUE TO LIMITED LAB CAPACITY.

ANY PATIENT WHO MEETS CRITERIA FOR TESTING AND IS TESTED MUST SELF-QUARANTINE UNTIL THE TEST RESULTS ARE RECEIVED.IN THE CASE OF A POSITIVE TEST THE REQUIRED QUARANTINE TIME IS UNTIL THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS ARE MET:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and;
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and;
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

 

*Is it safe to take ibuprofen?

There is currently no scientific evidence suggesting that use of ibuprofen can worsen COVID-19. This concern is hypothetical. The World Health Organization (WHO) has made no recommendation against the use of ibuprofen. If you are taking prescription ibuprofen, it is safe to continue taking it for your condition as prescribed by your provider. It is also safe to take either over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen at recommended doses for short-term use to relieve pain and reduce fever. Discuss with your providers about long-term use of either medication.


What should I do to avoid infection?

Please stay aware and take proper precautions. It is believed the coronavirus spreads via respiratory droplets such as from a cough or sneeze, so you should be using the same prevention methods as you would to avoid a cold or the flu:

  • Wash your 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 unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home from school or work when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. ​
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public settings where other social and physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies)


​​I have a regularly scheduled appointment with my doctor or an elective procedure. Should I come? 

To protect yourself and to protect our dedicated team of providers and support staff, we are taking aggressive measures to ensure that fewer symptomatic patients come to our offices and hubs.

At this point, all care that can be given without a physical visit to the office will be done remotely.  Our providers are available to offer video and telephone visits where applicable.

  • Call your provider’s office to determine whether a virtual visit is better or whether you need to come to the office.
  • If your care can be delivered virtually, our staff will help you set up a virtual visit appointment.
  • If you do have to come to the office for a scheduled appointment, you will be screened before you can come to the office and asked to stay home if you have symptoms.
  • Non-essential cases are being postponed for 6-8 weeks at both our Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) and at the hospitals where our doctors are affiliated unless urgent clinical decision making is dependent on the surgery.

 

Are there any changes to your hours or open locations?

In order to preserve our ability to staff our sites with the dedicated doctors and teams you rely on from SMG, we are proactively taking the step of establishing new hours of operation and temporarily closing, consolidating or relocating some of our offices. Check our website or call 908-273-4300 for regular updates.

 

Are you offering telemedicine?

We have rapidly expanded our ability to offer telemedicine visits with a provider to help make it easy for patients to seek care, while limiting exposure for all health care workers and patients to the coronavirus. Almost all specialties can offer video and telephone-based telemedicine visits. 

Please call your provider, reach out by portal message, or call Summit Medical Group at 908-273-4300 to determine which type of virtual visit will work best to meet your needs.


What is Summit Medical Group doing to keep patients safe?

We take this situation very seriously and have been preparing for potential cases for weeks. To help protect all patients, our campuses, practice sites and call center are using a special coronavirus protocol to direct patients with flu-like symptoms to the appropriate site of care, typically an urgent care. This will ensure that the SMG offices remain safe for patients seeking care unrelated to the coronavirus.

At our Summit Medical Group and CityMD urgent care sites, all staff are trained on the appropriate care for patients with flu-like symptoms and are wearing masks and using protective equipment when appropriate. We are following CDC and DOH guidelines to limit the spread of the virus including how we isolate patients with symptoms and how we disinfect rooms between patients.

Is there help available to cope through COVID-19?

Fear and anxiety concerning COVID-19 can be overwhelming. Individuals who are struggling specifically with anxiety about the COVID-19 outbreak can call (908) 277-8908 to speak to one of Summit Medical Group’s behavioral health clinicians who will conduct a brief phone assessment and provide coping tools. The service is available Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 



Where can I get more information?

NJ Department of Health:  

NJ COVID-19 Information Hub

NY Department of Health:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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Telemedicine Now Available!

Summit Medical Group is making it easier than ever for patients to seek care while limiting exposure to COVID-19. Our telemedicine options include virtual video visits, telephone check-ins, and patient portal communication.

Call (908) 273-4300 to determine which type of telemedicine visit will meet your needs. Or Click here to learn more.