Coronavirus Support for Health Professionals
Questions about coronavirus in DE? Contact Delaware’s Division of Public Health at 1-866-408-1899 or TTY at 1-800-232-5460 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon to Fri, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat and Sun. Or e-mail at email@example.com.
New Service Cancellations and Postponements Beginning March 19
Beginning at 1 pm on March 19, 2020:
- We are canceling all outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation services until further notice.
- We are requesting the postponement of all non-urgent laboratory and radiological screening exams and non-urgent elective services for at least four to six weeks (April 20 or later).
- We are requesting the postponement of all non-urgent outpatient diagnostic exams and services for at least four to six weeks (April 20 or later).
- Please ensure that you keep accurate records of all cancellations or postponements, which should include the time and date of the original appointment.
In addition, we are continuing to postpone surgeries, biopsies and invasive procedures that are considered elective. Clinicians and patients should consider the urgency of all other medical tests and procedures and consider deferring those activities to a later date.
Patients and providers should be working together to evaluate all medical needs at this time to maximize social distancing and postpone any activity that is not urgently needed.
These actions are vital to protect patients and caregivers from coronavirus COVID-19, as well as to preserve personal protective equipment and other supplies so that we can be prepared to meet the needs that we anticipate as this crisis evolves.
We will continue to reevaluate our policies on a daily basis and make every effort to reestablish normal care in our community as soon as it is appropriate.
We understand that this is an incredibly challenging time for you, your employees and your patients. We want to underscore how appreciative we are of you and your partnership as we work together to protect our patients, caregivers and community from the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.
HIPAA Privacy and Novel Coronavirus
At ChristianaCare, we understand that healthcare is an extremely personal matter that requires ongoing coordination between patients and their Caregivers. We also understand that in times like this, when caregivers are fighting outbreaks, juggling clinical obligations while protecting patient privacy can be difficult. Nonetheless, prioritizing patients’ privacy rights is still an essential facet of their health care experience. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Protected Health Information (PHI) can be used and disclosed for treatment, payment, and healthcare operations without the patient’s consent. Also, HIPAA permits healthcare providers like ChristianaCare, to use and disclose PHI for public health and safety purposes. However, all uses and disclosures must comply with the HIPAA Minimum Necessary requirement.
We have provided below a recent Office for Civil Rights (OCR) bulletin on COVID-19. The bulletin details how to handle patient privacy during this outbreak, as well as other uses and disclosures related to HIPAA. For COVID-19 privacy-related questions, please cal the ChristianaCare Privacy Hotline at 302-623-4468.
As always, any inquiries from the media regarding coronavirus COVID-19 should be directed to the External Affairs Media Relations team at 302-327-3300.
OCR’s Bulletin on HIPAA Privacy and Novel Coronavirus February 3, 2020
What is COVID-19?
A new respiratory virus continues to spread in numerous countries around the world and most recently has been seen in the United States, including Delaware. This virus spreads similar to influenza. ChristianaCare has continuously tracked the outbreak and made preparations as the virus has spread across the globe.
Where can I refer patients who have questions about COVID-19?
- About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about
- What you Need to Know: Handouts & Posters
- COVID-19 Video for Kids: https://www.brainpop.com/health/diseasesinjuriesandconditions/coronavirus/
- World Health Organization (WHO): Mythbusters
- For more information, call the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) Coronavirus information line at 1-866-408-1899, TTY at 1-800-232-5460 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I get patients tested?
- Patients can be referred to the DPH hotline.
- Commercial labs are offering testing (nasopharyngeal and/or oropharyngeal swabs must be collected in office).
- Please do not send patients to the emergency department unless they require emergent care.
- If you are considering sending a patient to the emergency department, call ahead first and advise the patient to wear a mask.
Provider Referral Center Information
Patients with non-urgent COVID-19 testing needs should not be sent to the Emergency Department. Alternatively, ChristianaCare is offering COVID-19 testing at Provider Referral Centers.
Patients must reserve a testing time online at COVID-19 Testing Locations in order to be seen at any center. Reservations can only be made while the center is open. Operating hours for both locations may vary. Please visit the COVID-19 Testing Locations page for daily operating status. These are NOT walk-in facilities. Only patients referred by their provider and in possession (physically or electronically) of a testing order will be tested. Patients will need to arrive to the testing site with their ID and insurance card as well.
What role do providers play?
- Please determine if a patient is symptomatic and appropriate for COVID-19 testing. Orders must be for Coronavirus 19 testing and include an appropriate diagnosis code.
- Orders for testing will only be accepted via a paper or email script from the referring provider. Provider offices can email the order to the patient or directly to the referral centers at email@example.com. Provider Referral Centers are unable to accept fax or phone orders.
How do patients make appointments at the Provider Referral Centers?
- Patients who receive an order to be tested for COVID-19 should visit christiana.care/prc and select the location they wish to be tested at to reserve a testing time and pre-register their appointment.
- Provider offices may reserve a testing time on behalf of patients who are not able to or don’t have access to a computer. Reservations are only able to be made online and will only be available for same-day appointments.
- Patients must reserve a testing time online in order to be seen at either location and reservations can only be made while the center is open.
- For daily operation times, visit christianacare.org/coronavirus.
What should patients bring to their appointment?
- Patients should bring their order, either via paper or electronically, ID and their insurance card.
How will results be communicated?
- Test results will be communicated within two to five days to the referring provider, who is responsible for delivering the results to their patient. Providers do not need to notify the Delaware Division of Public Health of any positive test results. The laboratory will do so.
- How do we test for COVID-19?
Being a novel, or new, virus there were no existing assays to run prior to 2020. Recently, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have issued emergency use authorization for a number of tests to increase testing capacity across the country. Currently Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp and Mayo Clinic Laboratories have approved tests, though testing requirements vary. All tests currently look for genetic material of the virus in order to determine positive or negative results.
- Where and how can physicians send patients for testing?
ChristianaCare has testing for COVID-19 at our Patient Referral Center. Delaware Division of Public Health has a limited number of tests, as such, they prioritize patients with known exposure, patients who are hospitalized and other high priority situations. If you think your patient qualifies, please call the DPH COVID hotline at: 1-866-408-1899, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon to Fri, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat and Sun. Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp both have test codes as well. All of these tests require swabs from the nose and/or mouth and are test specific. Ask your lab for details.
- My patients call me and tell me they think they have this virus, what should we tell them?
With all the attention being paid to the outbreak it is inevitable that there are worried well who will call. For those that are calling or visiting with influenza like illness symptoms, remember that it has been a severe flu season and the flu virus continues to be more prevalent in the community compared to COVID-19. If the patient is asymptomatic and you feel they don’t need to be seen medically, there is a DPH COVID-19 hotline at 1-866-408-1899 that is open.
- What should I do if I think someone has a respiratory illness like COVID-19?
For any patient with influenza like illness, the patient wear a mask and provider wear facemask, and the provider should wear a facemask and eye protection. In addition, the provider should practive good hand hygiene before and after contact. That will help prevent the spread of disease.
- Can I reuse the N95 mask and face shield if I am the only one using it?
PPE is one of the many ways we prevent the spread of infection in addition to hand hygiene, covering your cough, and not touching your face. For coronavirus and other viral respiratory illnesses, reusing your N95 mask or face shield can potentially expose the provider and is not recommended.
- Should I purchase a number of scrubs to avoid contamination of my street clothes?
- What is the best way to disinfect/wash whatever clothing I wear under the disposable gown?
Isolation gowns are designed to prevent infectious material from reaching your clothes. That is the case whether you are wearing scrubs or street clothes. Routine laundering of clothes is recommended.
- Do I need to wear disposable “booties” on my shoes?
Booties are often looked to by caregivers and providers as one way to prevent the spread of infection. In truth, the booties are designed to prevent the blood and bodily fluids from contaminating uncleanable surfaces of clinician footwear. In this case, booties are not appropriate protective equipment against the coronavirus COVID-19.
- What other protective equipment do I need to wear?
Personal protective equipment recommended by the World Health Organization to use when caring for suspected or confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 cases include:
- eye protection.
This is a contact and droplet transmission based precaution similar to other respiratory viruses like influenza.
- What is the best way to disinfect equipment that I will need to use (i.e. stethoscope, otoscope, etc)?
The virus is not hearty in the environment and on equipment, but the equipment must still be disinfected in order to be safe. Hospital grade disinfectants like PDI Sani Wipe (purple top canister) are effective at killing COVID-19.