Currently, no vaccine is available to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure to this virus by following stay-at-home orders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyday preventive actions to help limit the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
It is important that anyone experiencing potential coronavirus symptoms first seek an evaluation – online or by phone – before seeking an in-person screening or test. Here’s the best course of action:
Depending on this initial evaluation:
- Patients with milder symptoms may be directed to stay at home in keeping with the new North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidelines. Patients can expect a follow-up virtual visit with their clinician 1-2 days after their assessment. Note, a majority of patients confirmed to have COVID-19 will have mild to moderate symptoms and will be advised to recover from home and isolate. Patients presumed to have COVID-19 with mild symptoms will be advised to do the same.
- Patients who present with more moderate to severe symptoms may be referred to a respiratory assessment center for further screening and testing. Here, clinicians can perform more detailed exams with additional treatment options, as clinically necessary.
As a reminder, people who have no symptoms, or mild symptoms, will not be tested. They should not visit a screening center or a respiratory assessment center as they do not meet the criteria for screening or testing. Visiting a screening center unnecessarily will only further one’s risk of exposure and put a strain on resources for those who need it most.
Novant Health has updated where and how community members can be screened and tested for the coronavirus, following revised guidelines by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).
The state health department now recommends patients with mild symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should stay at home to recover and do not need testing.
Patients with a fever and cough plus moderate to severe symptoms, which include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest discomfort, altered thinking or cyanosis, meet guidelines for testing. Patients considered high risk will be tested.
We know there’s a lot of uncertainty in our communities, and some people are asking to be tested, but if you do not currently meet the above guidelines, then you should not come to a medical facility looking for testing. Coming anyway will only further your risk of exposure and put a strain on resources that we must reserve for those who need it.
Each individual patient is different and we encourage you to take our online assessment or call our 24/7 helpline at 877-9NOVANT with questions about your symptoms and what screening options are available to you.
We’ve seen significant improvements in turnaround times for test results. Here’s what you can expect if you have been tested:
- If you have a MyChart account, your test results will be available there. If you test positive for COVID-19, you will also receive a call from your provider.
- If you do not have a MyChart account, you will receive a call with your results.
Novant Health screening centers have transitioned to include respiratory assessment centers.
Respiratory assessment centers are designed to test and treat patients, by referral, who are experiencing moderate to severe respiratory symptoms associated with the coronavirus. This can include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and chest discomfort. A patient can obtain a referral from a clinician through a virtual or telephonic visit. If someone does not have a doctor, they can call our 24/7 helpline at 877-9NOVANT for information on how to access further evaluation and care.
At a respiratory assessment center, patients can receive a detailed exam from a clinician with additional treatment options.
As a reminder, people who have no symptoms, or mild symptoms, will not be referred for screening or testing in keeping with the new North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidelines. Visiting a screening center unnecessarily will only further one’s risk of exposure and put a strain on resources for those who need it most.
The best thing you can do right now is stay informed with accurate information and do what you can to reduce your chances of catching any respiratory viruses.
Here’s what we think is most important to know:
Washing your hands is the best defense
Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. And please try to avoid touching your face. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used as an alternative, but handwashing is your best defense.
Call for care
We are asking individuals who feel they may have symptoms of the coronavirus to first take the online assessment, then if they need to be seen, please call ahead before coming to a Novant Health office, or to one of our screening or respiratory assessment centers. We will triage you by phone or MyChart to get you to the right place for further evaluation and screening. This will help you get care quickly while decreasing the risk of exposure to yourself or others.
If you do have symptoms that concern you, use our coronavirus assessment tool for recommendations on where to go for further evaluation and screening. Our 24/7 coronavirus helpline is also available for questions at 877-9NOVANT.
Putting distance between yourself and other people is key to helping curb the spread of the coronavirus. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
If you need care that’s not coronavirus-related and not an emergency, consider virtual health options. Novant Health offers virtual care through MyChart and TytoCare to help save you a trip to your physician’s office. For severe symptoms or a medical emergency, call 911.
It’s important to stay informed with accurate, up-to-date information. Check back here for updates or visit Coronavirus.gov for more resources.
Beginning May 4th, we will resume some of the non-time sensitive and non-emergent surgeries, procedures and appointments that we postponed back in March when the coronavirus first started to hit our communities.
We needed to take a pause, giving us critical time and space, to focus on increasing our capacity to care for COVID-19 patients while the community helped flatten the curve. It is clear physical distancing and efforts to reduce spread have been effective.
Instead, and consistent with national trends, we have seen a disturbing decline in patients seeking care for potentially emergent conditions, including heart attack and stroke. At the advice of our physicians, and on behalf of our patients who need care, we have thoughtfully decided to resume some of these services so we can continue caring for all of our patients when and where they need us.
Putting off care indefinitely, is simply not good for our patients – and in some cases, deadly. We urge our community to seek the care they need. While virtual care options will continue and are encouraged to be used as much as possible, this announcement ensures patients who had their care delayed can resume treatment, including many surgical procedures.
We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust as necessary to keep our patients and team members safe and healthy.
To ensure the safety and health of our communities, we are resuming our services in phases.
We will begin rescheduling patients who had delayed appointments, procedures and surgeries. Patients who fall into this category, prioritizing pediatric well visits, will receive communication from their healthcare provider with additional information.
While virtual care options will continue and are encouraged to use as much as possible, we will prioritize office visits for patients with acute care needs or chronic disease.
Novant Health facilities will add enhanced safety measures, including patient and team member screenings, required masking of patient-facing team members, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes. Novant Health has also taken measures to ensure physical distancing and address clinical safety concerns, which may include lowering the number of patients in the clinic at once, workflows to reduce use of waiting rooms, and even some care delivery within the confines of your vehicle. Visitor restrictions will remain in place.
All Novant Health hospitals offer free Wi-Fi connection, so we encourage patients to bring a smart phone, tablet or laptop to stay connected with their friends and family members during this time.
Novant Health is also helping patients stay connected to their care plan while in the hospital by using MyChart Bedside, a free app patients can download to their personal devices. MyChart Beside is also available on Novant Health tablets at select facilities.* With MyChart Bedside, patients in the hospital can:
- View vitals, labs and medications
- Access patient education materials
- View and chat with their care team
- View scheduled events, such as an upcoming surgery
- Make nonurgent requests for items such as blankets and ice
- Access games and entertainment
*Facilities include Novant Health Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital, Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center, Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center, Novant Health UVA Health System Haymarket Medical Center and Novant Health UVA Health System Prince William Medical Center.
Yes. All community events and classes at our facilities are cancelled until further notice, including lactation classes, facility tours and Baby Cafés. We encourage expecting moms to consider these two online class options:
Novant Health supports stay-at-home orders across North Carolina. In order to prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, this action is necessary. The coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the state, and without an order to stay home, our front line medical care teams are at risk. Our system simply cannot support the surge of critical patients should the virus reach levels seen elsewhere.
The safety of our patients, team members, and the communities we serve are at risk without an immediate change in behaviors to reduce the spread of the virus. While difficult, this order will help to preserve critical supplies and ensure we can care for the most vulnerable when they need us most.
Once stay-at-home has passed, Novant Health is committed to working with county, state, and national leaders to help our communities restore good health and prosperity.
While clinical trial participation is voluntary, not all patients will be eligible for the trial. Each patient’s healthcare team will discuss treatment options with them, including eligibility for any clinical trials.
It’s important for the community to know that, while clinical trials are a vital step in the development of future treatments for COVID-19, the activation of these trials does not change the importance of continued social distancing and other prevention measures. COVID-19 is still a very serious threat to our communities. We are committed to identifying treatment options for our patients and the communities we serve.
Our mobile screening center and respiratory assessment center sites will offer testing to individuals experiencing coronavirus symptoms. You can drive or walk to the centers to receive care. Testing will be available, should a provider determine it is necessary.
While appointments are not necessary, we do recommend that anyone experiencing symptoms first call our 24/7 coronavirus helpline at 877-9NOVANT to get advice on whether they should be further evaluated. As a reminder, not all people who have symptoms are being tested right now, per CDC guidelines, and visiting a screening center unnecessarily will only further your risk of exposure and put a strain on resources for those who need it most.
Your mental health is important to you, and it’s important to us. The coronavirus has impacted the wellness of many, which includes our mental health. If the anxiety around the coronavirus and social distancing are causing you overwhelming feelings of fear or depression, Novant Health has resources to help. We have licensed therapists available to speak with you 24/7. Call 800-718-3550 to be connected to a therapist now.
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