A Message From Our Medical Director re: COVID-19 & the Light At the End of the Tunnel
December 7, 2020
Dear Hands On Medicine patients, families and community,
As the Medical Director at Hands On Medicine, it is with Gratitude and Grace that I write this update. We appreciate your continued support of this small, minority-owned business. We appreciate your understanding regarding all the appointment changes, protocol changes, and requests for your flexibility. And I thank you for your own expressions of Gratitude and Grace for our care and services.
Hands On Medicine continues to remain open 5 days a week. We are seeing patients via telemedicine and in-person, if needed. We are, however, temporarily closed to new patients (other than new additions to existing families). We continue to COVID test in the drive-thru and treat our COVID-positive patients. We are tracking all positive patients for long-term symptoms. If you have had COVID and your PCP (primary care provider) is not aware, please call the clinic for a telemedicine appointment.
As the Medical Director I cannot express how hard clinic staff are working right now. In fact, could someone please bring back the nightly pots and pans brigade? Nearly every member of our 15-member staff is juggling home-schooling children, childcare, work, and concern regarding sick family members. The collective exhaustion is heavy, very heavy. Please know we appreciate your grace and patience as we deal with the same oppressive environment you are, while tending to thousands of patients. I could not be prouder of this team and our patients!
Hands On Medicine continues to exercise an abundance of caution regarding cleaning the clinic and ourselves, wearing PPE and screening patients that have office visits (versus telemedicine), staying masked all day and distancing from one another while working, screening patients and ourselves for COVID, staying in our bio-bubbles and encouraging all those in our community to do the same. During these times of mixed messages and increased anxiety I would like to reassure each of you that Hands On Medicine is doing its very best to care for our patients, and we are doing a damn good job!
Do What You Can: During this pandemic there are many things we do not have control of, but we should control what we can:
- Wash your hands and all surfaces more than you think necessary.
- Cover your cough.
- Wear a mask when outside of your immediate bio-bubble.
- Do not travel. Period.
- Get your flu shot!
- If you have COVID symptoms or contact with a known positive, err on the side of caution; quarantine and call us for an appointment.
COVID-19 Vaccine/Preventative Medicine: We have been receiving an increased number of inquiries regarding the vaccine. The manufacturers are largely working with large pharmacies. The state and local health departments are working with the large hospital systems and other large organizations. We have no plans as of now to provide the vaccine, though this will likely change in the deep spring. Each and every one of the Hands On Medicine staff will be getting vaccinated (we already are 100% vaccinated for flu this year). We take preventative medicine seriously at Hands On Medicine; vaccination is a wonderful tool. The priority population cohorts have been established by the Oregon Heath Authority. Group A will be the first responders (police, EMTs, firefighters, etc.), healthcare providers in direct patient contact, and other front-line workers. Group B will be those at high-risk medical conditions and occupations. Eventually the vaccine will be available to everyone, but we cannot predict when. We will continue to keep you abreast of all concrete changes in recommendations, timelines, and availability.
Do No Harm: In addition to this strong principle of preventative medicine, we hold strong to the principle of doing no harm. If your provider is not available at the exact time you want, or needs to reschedule you, or is interrupted by a COVID-related urgent management issue, or you end up seeing another provider in the clinic during a pinch, please remember we are doing our very best to provide the best quality of healthcare possible during this pandemic.
Thank you again for your Grace and Gratitude. We are in this mega ultramarathon together.
Shelda R. Holmes, FNP
Hands On Medicine
A Message From Our Medical Director re: COVID-19
March 24, 2020
Dear Valued Patients and Community Members,
I recognize this is a time of exceptional uncertainty and stress. Hands on Medicine remains committed to our founding mission to provide exemplary care to individuals and families in our community through exceptionally high quality of care and patient empowerment.
In an effort to continue to provide high quality care and limit exposure and spread of COVID-19 we have implemented numerous procedural changes. On March 16th we rolled out telemedicine for the vast majority of patient visits (please see the above links for each provider’s online “waiting room”).
Despite the recent “Shelter in Place” order, we understand that you and your families continue to need care: new baby/mama visits, well-child developmental assessments, injuries, illnesses and chronic health and illness management and medications refills. If you need medical care, do not hesitate to contact us for medical triage to determine an appropriate course of action. Please note that while we are COVID-19 testing when clinically necessary, every possible precaution is being taken to protect our staff, their families, patients, their families and our community at large.
I think it is especially important to recognize the extent to which these times are straining us psychologically. For those of us struggling with an exacerbation of anxiety, depression or other mental health challenges, please know that you are not alone. I strongly encourage all of us to reach out for help when we need it. Just because we are in “isolation” does not mean we should be isolated. To this end, we have hired two fabulous full-time therapists: Maddison VanderHoff, LCSW, and Myra Bazell, LCSW. Both Myra and Maddison are also doing telemedicine appointments.
As a devoted professional medical provider for over twenty years, I can wholeheartedly state that Hands On Medicine staff and procedures are surpassing all standards of care and expectations. Together we will see this pandemic through and be a stronger community because of it.
In health and solidarity,
Shelda R. Holmes, FNP
Hands on Medicine
How have you changed procedures to keep staff and patients safer?
- All patients are screened for COVID-19 symptoms before and at the time of their visit.
- Adult patients must come unaccompanied and children under 16 may have only one guardian.
- All patients and staff must wear a mask at all times in the clinic.
- As before the pandemic, all work spaces and exam rooms are sterilized and cleaned multiple times daily.
- When possible, we are seeing most of our patients via telemedicine.
- We are sheduling healthy patients in the morning and sick patients in the afternoon to reduce exposure.
- Likewise we are exclusively testing patients for COVID-19 outside in their cars to prevent exposure inside the clinic.
What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 symptoms?
Please call and make a telemedicine appointment with your PCP if you have COVID-19 symptoms. We will assess your symptoms and guide you through the next steps. While you are waiting for your appointment please isolate yourself to protect others.
What if I don’t have COVID-19 symptoms but I want to get tested for COVID-19?
We are following the Oregon Health Authority guidelines regarding testing people for COVID-19 who do not have symptoms.
What about the COVID-19 antibody test? Are you offering this?
We are not currently offering the antibody test because it is uncertain what the results of the test mean. If a person tests positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, we do not know if those antibodies will protect them from getting COVID-19.
How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?
- Learn about COVID-19. The CDC has very helpful information about how the virus spreads and what you can do to reduce your risks here.
- Wash your hands often: before and after eating, after blowing nose and using the toilet, after tending to the toileting of others, after coughing and sneezing, and at least every couple of hours.
- Avoid sharing indoor space with other people outside your household.
- Social distance, keeping at least 6 feet between yourself and other people.
- Wear a mask when you cannot social distance.
- Cough and sneeze into your mask, under your shirt, or into your elbow.
- Stop smoking. Your PCP can help you quit tobacco. Schedule a telemedicine visit to discuss this.
- Keep your nails short, hair pulled back and try not to touch your face.
- Shower every evening, including hair (our hair captures microbes and pollens).
- When wearing a mask, do not pull the mask onto your hair. Instead, pull your mask down.
- Clean all surfaces and frequently touched/shared items daily.
- Do not let your pets sleep with you.
- Pets should not be touched by anyone outside of your household.