COVID-19 Patient Update
March 16, 2020
This post will be updated as information changes. Updated information is highlighted. Post updated April 30, 2020.
We are asking all patients to call first before coming in so we can best coordinate care. We can give you guidance over the phone about your visit. You may be able to you meet with your provider by TeleVist. For more information about TeleVisits see our patient portal page. We will be following up with patients to manage medication refills. Our Clover, Fort Mill and York locations will be closed as long as the municipal buildings they are in remain closed.
Affinity Health Center Patients and Community Members,
Currently our state/country is experiencing an unprecedented health threat known as the Novel Coronavirus 2019 or COVID-19. This viral infection is passed like the viral causes of the common cold: through contact with a person who already has the illness, specifically through contact with mucous generated by coughing or sneezing.
And, like the common cold, this virus is very contagious and can be passed from person to person very easily by way of this contact. To guard against this illness, we all need to take care to wash our hands frequently and avoid touching our faces after coming into contact with others. It is recommended that everyone wear a fabric mask to protect others when in public spaces.
Currently, there is no known treatment for COVID-19 (just as there is no specific treatment for colds) and no available vaccination to help immunize people against this virus.
Fortunately, the majority of people who contract COVID-19 experience a mild illness characterized by fever, chills, cough and body aches. Most people suffering from an infection with COVID-19 do not need to be seen by a healthcare provider at all and can self-treat at home with fluids, fever relievers (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen) and over the counter cough suppressants.
A few people, especially the elderly and folks with serious chronic medical conditions like lung disease or heart disease, are at risk for complications of the virus. These more serious illnesses are characterized by shortness of breath and respiratory failure; this type of illness will most likely lead to hospitalization for supportive care with IV medications, fluids and oxygen.
It is important to understand that testing a person who is afraid that they may have been in contact with a COVID-19 carrier, but who has no symptoms of infection, is neither recommended nor necessary. Testing should only be done to diagnose the actual infection in a person exhibiting typical COVID-19 symptoms. Current tests by Affinity Health Center go to South Carolina DHEC. Turnaround time is approximately 1 day. Positive tests at DHEC are sent on to the CDC lab in Atlanta for confirmatory testing. Affinity Health Center offers free curbside COVID-19 testing by appointment. Results return from the lab in 3 to 8 days.
One very important goal in limiting the spread of COVID-19 is to keep a lot of people from contracting the virus all at once, because having a very large number of people getting sick at the same time is more likely to overwhelm our healthcare system. Too many sick people all at one time will lead to shortages of things like hospital beds and ventilators, shortages which can lead to avoidable deaths. The best way to limit the spread of COVID-19 is to practice what has been called “social distancing,” which means making efforts to keep people from gathering in large groups that might inadvertently spread the virus amongst them. This principle is the reason aggressive measures have been employed recently, such as the cancellation of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the statewide closure of all SC schools. In addition to these efforts, people need to voluntarily avoid doing things that can put themselves at risk of contracting the virus, such as going out into crowded public places unnecessarily. Also, people who are already ill should avoid going out and potentially spreading their illness (regardless of the cause) to others. We all need to avoid shaking hands, a common standard greeting gesture, but one that can help spread viruses like COVID-19. Coughing or sneezing into your elbow instead of your hands is a good idea; but a better idea is to avoid going out in public at all when you are sick. Staying at home until you are over your illness is the most important measure to follow.
Patients and community members should call to speak to a screener nurse if they are ill and wish to be considered for testing.
If you have a respiratory illness with fever and cough or shortness of breath and are concerned that you might have COVID-19, you can get information from the CDC Coronavirus site, South Carolina DHEC website or MUSC website.
Testing at Affinity Health Center is available and will be ordered for patients who exhibit symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 infection and possible exposure to the virus. Patients should call to speak to a nurse if they are ill and wish to be considered for testing. Special arrangements will be made to allow your safe presentation to clinic for specimen collection. Anyone having shortness of breath and/or showing low blood oxygen levels with our pulse oximeter will be directed to the local hospital for further evaluation and treatment.