COVID-19 Office Policies & Updates

We are taking extra steps to ensure the health and safety of our patients and staff.

Your doctor or nurse practitioner at Ninth Street Internal Medicine will work with you to decide whether an appointment in the office is recommended as part of your ongoing medical care.  Please call the office if you have questions about your care after reading the following information.

How we are keeping you safe and healthy

  1. If you are sick or were exposed to someone with COVID-19, please contact our office.
  2. We are seeing sick patients in the office during special hours in the late afternoon, and we are still doing telehealth visits as well.
  3. We can perform both rapid COVID-19 testing and send-out COVID-19 testing at our office depending on what you need, as well as regular flu and strep testing too. Please schedule an appointment so you can discuss with a medical provider what is best for you.
  4. Due to limited resources during the current COVID-19 surge, we will not be performing COVID-19 testing on patients who are asymptomatic and without any known exposure.
  5. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should isolate at home until your appointment. The optimal window for testing is 5-7 days after exposure, but please call us right away so we can make all of the proper arrangements for you.
  6. If you live in the same household with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you are at a high risk of becoming infected. You should quarantine at home until you can be sure that you are not infected. Please schedule a telehealth visit for specific instructions for your individual situation. Please visit the CDC website for more instructions about what to do or for more information about quarantine.

Is it better for me to schedule a telemedicine visit or an in-person visit?

Virtual/Telemedicine Visits allow you to use a phone or desktop device to speak with your physician. Examples of when telemedicine may be appropriate include:

  • Minor illnesses, like a cold or sinus infection
  • Minor injuries, like small cuts or sprains
  • Non-severe symptoms from a chronic condition
  • General health concerns or questions
  • Annual wellness visits
  • Anyone with respiratory symptoms, or other symptoms concerning for a COVID-19 infection, MUST speak with a provider by phone or video before coming in to the office.

In-Person Visit

There are times where it will be best to see your doctor in person for more complex and personalized care. For example:

  • Cancer screenings and treatments
  • Complex chronic disease care
  • Vaccines
  • Certain worrisome symptoms including stomach pain, pelvic pain or other gynecologic symptoms, chest pain, headache, certain musculoskeletal problems.

Please call the office, or send a message via the patient portal if you have questions about what type of appointment is recommended.

Can I postpone my in-office appointment?

It is more important than ever to take care of your health, especially chronic conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic heart and lung conditions. Cancer screening and immunizations are also crucial to your continued health. Some routine care may be able to wait, but other issues are important to address quickly. Your provider will determine if an office appointment is recommended as part of your ongoing medical care.

Is it safe for me to go to my upcoming doctor’s appointment?

We are taking extra steps to ensure the health and safety of all patients and staff who enter the office. These include:

  • No COVID-19 testing is being done in the office. No patients with current symptoms of, or recent exposure to someone with COVID-19 will be permitted in the office.
  • Pre-appointment symptoms screening
  • Temperature check for all staff and patients on arrival
  • Masks must be worn by staff and patients at all times while in the office.
  • No-waiting in the waiting room. Patients will be taken directly to an exam room after check in
  • Limitations on the number of staff and patients in the office each day will help us to follow recommended social distancing guidelines
  • No walk-in hours. Please contact the office first to schedule all appointments
  • Exam rooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between patients.

What should I do to prepare to come in for an appointment?

  • One day before your appointment, the office will contact you to screen you for COVID-19 symptoms. If you have any symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19 (these include fevers, chills, cough, loss of sense of taste or smell, muscle pain, headache, or sore throat), a doctor or nurse practitioner will contact you to review your symptoms and determine next steps.
  • Wear a face covering or mask to your visit.

What type of face covering is appropriate to wear?

Your face covering should cover the nose and mouth, and be secured to the head with ties or straps, or wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

Face masks with one-way exhalation valves should not be worn. These masks filter the air that is inhaled by the person wearing it, protecting them from dust and small particles in their surroundings. However, the exhalation valve allows unfiltered exhaled air to escape into the environment, putting those around the wearer at risk.

For more information about face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19, please see the CDC website:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

Woman wearing face masks

Should I have bloodwork done?

Yes. Routine bloodwork is important for preventing, monitoring, and managing many chronic conditions. It may also be important to monitor bloodwork if you take certain medications. If you have an upcoming annual physical exam appointment, or if you typically have bloodwork done before appointments (such as for diabetes), we request that you have bloodwork done. Most LabCorp and Quest Diagnostic laboratories remain open, and are taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We recommend that you schedule an appointment to have bloodwork done with your nearest lab. Please call the office if you have specific questions.

Can I bring a family member or caregiver to my appointment?

Individuals with physical or cognitive limitations who require the assistance of another person to attend their appointment are permitted to bring one person with them to the appointment. To help us limited the number of individuals in the office and follow social distancing guidelines, we request that patients who are able to do so come to their appointments unaccompanied.

Since I scheduled my appointment, I lost my job and no longer have health insurance (or my insurance changed). What should I do?

We are committed to helping all of our patients get the care that they need. Please call the office, or send a message via the patient portal to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

Where can I find more information?

Protecting yourself from COVID-19 infection
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Testing for COVID-19
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/testing/index.html

Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

Information about the end of stay-at-home orders and the gradual reopening of Philadelphia
https://www.phila.gov/2020-05-29-what-the-yellow-phase-means-for-philadelphia/
https://www.phila.gov/guides/safer-at-home/

Guidelines for people who have close contact with someone who has COVID-19
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html

Self-isolation guidelines for people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/end-home-isolation.html

Caring for someone at home who is sick with COVID-19
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html

Guidelines for Caregivers who are sick
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/parents-caregivers.html

COVID-19 Update

As your primary care providers, we at Ninth Street Internal Medicine and MDVIP would like to encourage everyone to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. We believe in both the safety and efficacy of this vaccine. If you would like to learn more about how mRNA vaccines work, we encourage you to visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html to learn more. Anyone who still has questions or reservations about getting the vaccine should schedule a phone appointment to discuss with your doctor. This vaccine is the best way for all of us to end this pandemic and get back to normal life!

We encourage everyone who is interested in receiving the vaccine to register with their local health department.

The vaccine is being offered in phases in an effort to get as many high-risk individuals vaccinated as quickly as possible. Please be patient as we go through these phases and understand there will be some variability based on your county of residence, and some of these phases will overlap. Currently we are in Phase 1a (healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities). Some areas are now starting Phase 1b (frontline essential workers, people over age 65, and younger adults with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, COPD, and others). There will be continued updates as vaccine is offered to additional groups, and checking your local health department website is the best way to know when it will be your turn.

We have applied through the Philadelphia Health Department to be a vaccine distributor, but we have not received any vaccine yet. We will send updates via email and the NSIM website if we are approved to distribute vaccine in the future. If you are offered the vaccine through your employer or pharmacy or local health department, you should get the vaccine that way. We will do our best to keep everyone updated as more information becomes available.

You can learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and distribution here:

https://www.pennmedicine.org/coronavirus/vaccine
https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Vaccine.aspx

Sincerely,
Ninth Street Internal Medicine and MDVIP

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Call us at (215) 440-8681