Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness for Patients with Complex Chronic Conditions
As a nation, we’re just beginning to confront the challenge of COVID-19 and its impact on our communities. While everyone is talking about coronavirus, there is still uncertainty and limited guidance about its impact, especially for those patients living with complex chronic illness who may be receiving ongoing infusion therapy.
At IVX Health, we’re here to provide direction from the best resources and information currently available to provide common-sense approaches to handling coronavirus.
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found commonly in both people and animals. COVID-19 is a “novel” coronavirus — a new strain first detected in humans in late 2019. COVID-19 was originally detected in China but has now spread to over 100 countries, including the United States.
This coronavirus is similar in terms of structure and transmission to certain common colds but can present with more severe symptoms in certain segments of the population. We are still learning how COVID-19 spreads and how easily it can be transmitted, but it is likely transmitted through touch or inhalation of airborne droplets – either between people who are in close contact or by touching a surface or object that has the virus and then touching one’s eyes, ears, or mouth.
How should patients with complex chronic conditions think about COVID-19?
For most people, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is low, as exposure to this virus is still relatively unlikely. Generally speaking, patients who receive immunosuppressing medications to treat a chronic illness (e.g. infused biologic medication) are typically at an elevated risk for infections of all kinds, including viruses. This would presumably hold true for COVID-19, although it is not certain at this time. Specialists who treat these conditions continue to make judgments about the value of treatment and good disease control relative to the risks of biologic therapy.
We recommend that all people and patients take common-sense precautions to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, including:
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth if you have not washed your hands
- When handwashing, use soap and water for at least 20 seconds – a great trick is to sing “Happy Birthday” in your head to ensure a thorough cleaning
- Use hand sanitizer when handwashing is not available – check the label to make sure your hand sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol
- When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth with a tissue and immediately throw away the tissue – if you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the elbow of your shirt
- Avoid having close contact with people who are sick and generally avoid extended contact within people within 3 feet
How is IVX Health helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
IVX Health is committed to providing the safest experience possible for our patients.
One of our greatest differentiators has always been the physical environment in which we operate, as our facilities have real and unique advantages when caring for immunocompromised patients. Most notably, our exclusive private suite model ensures that our patients always receive a private room, thereby minimizing unnecessary close contact with others. Moreover, our centers are located in individual retail spaces – not in shared healthcare facilities like the hospital or physician office. Lastly, our appointment only model – coupled with our focus on ensuring our patients are shown to their room immediately upon arrival – allows us to minimize the risk of exposure to others that might occur in a traditional waiting room setting.
Our clinical team works hard to make the entire IVX Health facility an aseptic environment, meaning it is contamination-free and free from disease-causing microorganisms. Patient rooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before and after every patient visit. This not only includes the infusion chair but every other shared object – including the TV remote, iPads, blankets, and other items – which receive a sterile cleaning using CaviWipes or other disinfecting agent. We also thoroughly clean all other areas at multiple intervals throughout the day, including our entryway, front desk, restrooms, and break room.
In direct response to COVID-19, IVX Health has taken additional steps for its patients, including expanded pre-appointment screening, new guidelines and limitations on guests, new protective equipment for clinicians and staff, and more. Thanks to our setup, our careful approach, and our standard way of operating, we believe there’s no safer place for patients who need infusion therapy to receive it.
At IVX Health, patients are our #1 priority. Our goal is to stay vigilant against the transmission of COVID-19 in a smart and compassionate way, always putting patient safety as our utmost concern.
COVID-19 is a rapidly developing situation. IVX Health is following the updated guidance provided by the CDC and will continue to proactively amend its policies in line with the best available information.
In addition, many of our partners and advocacy groups have also issued additional information on coronavirus, including:
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
- Arthritis Foundation
- Lupus Foundation of America
Dr. Andrew Lasher
Chief Medical Officer, IVX Health