Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness | Loyola Medicine

Coronavirus Preparedness at Loyola Medicine

What is COVID?

COVID-19 is a new or novel, coronavirus. It is highly contagious. COVID-19 is transmitted person-to-person, with illnesses ranging from mild to severe. Person-to-person spread means being in close contact with an infected person or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. We are learning new information about this virus every day, including what is effective in stopping the spread and potential treatments.

Older people, especially those with a history of underlying health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, seem to be at the greatest risk of complications if exposed to the coronavirus.

Symptoms

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure*:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

If you feel sick with a fever, cough, have difficulty breathing, or if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, please call our Patient Access Center at 888-584-7888, Monday through Friday from 7 am – 4:30 pm.

*According to the CDC

What to Do if You Feel Sick

If you have a fever, trouble breathing or are coughing, call your doctor or a health care provider to set up an appointment to be tested. As a first step, please explain your symptoms over the phone before going to the doctor’s office, an immediate care center or emergency department.

Make sure to tell your doctor if you have traveled internationally. You should also mention if you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19:

  • There are some treatments (Remdesivir and Dexamethasone for example)—but no cure—for COVID-19 today.
  • Several other potential therapies, such as convalescent plasma, are being studied, including at Loyola Medicine.
  • Hydroxychloroquine has NOT been proven to be effective, as demonstrated by several randomized clinical trials. Patients may possibly become even more sick on this therapy.

VACCINES

  • Several pharmaceutical companies are making progress in developing a vaccine for COVID-19.  However, no vaccine is available today. We anticipate the first vaccines will be available in late spring of 2021 at the earliest.

PROTECTING YOURSELF AGAINST COVID-19

  • Wear masks anytime your leave your home, anytime you are with anyone outside of your household, in all indoor spaces and in all outdoor and public places where other people are present.  
  • Physical distance yourself from others by standing or sitting at least six feet apart. Avoid crowds, events or activities with small, medium and large gatherings.
  • Washing your hands is the most effective thing you can do to slow the spread of COVID-19.

It is essential that you stay home if you feel ill.

Loyola Medicine’s Commitment to Safety

Loyola is committed to using the best available clinical evidence to care for COVID-19 patients. Ultimately, we prefer that all treatments, therapies and vaccines must undergo randomized, double blind clinical trials with enough numbers of patients to justify their safe and effective use in clinical protocols.

Loyola follows all available clinical evidence and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect our patients using personal protective equipment (PPE), and frequently cleaning our patient rooms, treatment areas and common spaces at all our facilities.

Loyola is participating in research protocols and will clinical care protocols and processes that provide the best and safe care to patients.

How Loyola Medicine Is Prepared

Loyola Medicine is collaborating with the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and visitors. Our staff has been trained on how to screen for and proceed with care for possible cases of COVID-19.

Screening for COVID-19 and Next Steps for Potential Cases

Health care providers at Loyola obtain a detailed symptom history for patients being evaluated with fever and acute respiratory illness. Patients are considered high risk for the coronavirus if they have had exposure to confirmed COVID-19, patient being evaluated for COVID-19 or recently returned from areas outside the U.S. with widespread transmission of fever and severe respiratory illness.

Isolation: Patients who are under investigation for novel coronavirus will be provided a mask and moved to an airborne infection isolation room (AIIR) or private room, with Precautions sign placed on room entry door.

Patient Isolation Practices

Protecting our patients is our priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we have learned more about COVID-19, we have adjusted our patient isolation practices. We now know that some patients who have had COVID-19 may continue to have lingering symptoms, including cough and shortness of breath. Others may continue to test positive on COVID-19 tests (PCR - polymerase chain reaction tests) for weeks after first becoming infected. We also now know that these patients do not remain contagious for longer periods.

Multiple studies support the following:

  • Persons with mild COVID-19 infection stop being infectious by 10 days after their first symptoms (or after their first positive test if they did not experience symptoms).
     
  • Persons with severe COVID-19 stop being infectious by 20 days after their initial symptoms (or after their first positive test if they did not experience symptoms). This is also true of patients who have weakened immune systems due to certain medications or health conditions.

After these initial periods, studies have shown that patients are not contagious, even family members in the home are no longer at risk for infection.

When hospitalized patients at a Loyola Medicine hospital complete their isolation period, they are moved out of a COVID-19 Isolation Unit and into general patient rooms. This is similar to what occurs outside the hospital where a person is allowed to return to work, school or resume community interaction after completing a home quarantine period. Because the person is no longer contagious, we no longer need to isolate them from staff or separate them from other patients. They may eventually move into a shared room with another patient.

Your safety and that of all those we care for is our most important priority.

Safety Precautions at Loyola Medicine

Enhanced safety and cleanliness protocols are in place at all Loyola facilities to protect our patients and visitors, physicians, providers and support staff.

Everyone entering our facilities is screened for symptoms of COVID-19 and required to wear masks at all times. If they do not have a mask, we offer masks to wear to prevent the spread of infection to others.

In addition: 

  • All inpatients are screened for COVID-19 and all patients undergoing an elective surgery or procedure are tested for COVID-19 the day before or the day of the surgery or procedure.
  • If the patient tests positive, their procedure will be postponed until clinically appropriate.
  • We also are following the CDC’s standards with increased cleaning, with special attention to surfaces that are frequently touched, like doorknobs and flat surfaces.
  • We are continuing safe physical distancing measures wherever possible.

Visitor Restrictions

Hospitals

Protecting our patients is our top priority. Due to COVID-19, Loyola Medicine hospitals (Loyola University Medical Center, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital and MacNeal Hospital) will no longer allow visitors as a precaution for your safety and the safety of our patients, our caregivers and our community members.

On rare occasions, adult visitors will be allowed access to patient areas if they are important to the patient’s emotional well-being and care. The visitor will be screened for COVID-19 exposure based on established Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

Visitors must follow all safety precautions, including a temperature check before entering our facilities, wearing a mask, proper hand hygiene and social distancing. If allowed, visitors are limited to one person at one time in the patient room.

Outpatient Facilities

For your safety and the safety of our patients and their visitors, the following restrictions are in effect until further notice:

A no-visitor policy is in effect for all Loyola Medicine outpatient clinics and facilities. Exceptions include the following:

One family member/support person, if needed, because the patient is:

  • Cognitively impaired
  • A minor - only one parent/guardian for pediatric patients
  • Someone who is impaired physically and needs caregiver assistance
  • Going through treatment for a serious illness (i.e., cancer)
  • Someone who needs a family/caregiver present for any teaching or complex care coordination
  • Other exceptions may be made at the discretion of the clinical care team.

Any visitor approved from the list above will be screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms through a verbal screening process as well as have their temperature taken. Visitors will not be able to enter the facilities if they: 

  • Feel Sick
  • Have COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms
  • Have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last three weeks
  • Have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last two weeks
  • Have been asked to be on home quarantine
  • Refuse to wear a face mask (Neck gaiters, bandanas, and masks with exhalation valves are not permitted at Loyola Medicine)
  • Visitors MUST adhere to all social distancing and hand hygiene guidelines
    • No one under the age of 18 will be allowed as a support person. Siblings younger than 18 years of age won't be allowed in the outpatient setting.
    • Emergency department patients may have on support person, age 18 or older. However, our staff may ask you to wait in the waiting room or another area depending on the seriousness of the patients' condition in the emergency department. For stable patients, we may ask that the support person wait in their car if the waiting room is full to protect you from exposure to flu or COVID-19.
    • For those patients receiving therapy services (physical, occupational, or speech), adult visitors will be asked to wait in their car until the patient has completed services.
      • For adult patients there will be an exception if an adult caregiver is required for family training.
      • For pediatric patients, on adult may accompany the patient for the duration of the treatment.

Thank you for understanding and cooperation. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our visitor policies, call 708-216-5140 for Loyola University Medical Center, 708-681-3200 for Gottlieb Memorial Hospital and 708-783-9100 for MacNeal Hospital.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is at greatest risk for coronavirus infection (COVID-19)?

Currently, there is a wide range of people that can contract COVID-19. Those at greatest risk of infection are persons who have had prolonged, unprotected close contact with a patient with symptomatic, confirmed COVID-19 and those who live in or have recently been to areas with sustained transmission.

Who is at greatest risk for complications from coronavirus infection?

From the data that is available regarding COVID-19 infected patients and those with related coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus), it appears that older adults (60 years or older) and persons who have underlying chronic medical conditions (such as immunocompromising conditions, heart and lung disease, diabetes) may be at risk for more severe outcomes.

When is someone infectious?

The onset and duration of viral shedding and period of infectiousness for COVID-19 are variable. It is possible that SARS-CoV-2 RNA may be detectable in the upper or lower respiratory tract for weeks after illness onset, similar to infection with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. For SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses (e.g. MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV), the onset of symptoms (if they occur) is 2–14 days after infection by the virus.

Which body fluids can spread infection?

Very limited data is available about detection of SARS-CoV-2 and infectious virus in clinical specimens. SARS-CoV-2 has been isolated from upper respiratory tract specimens and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. SARS-CoV-2 RNA has been detected in blood and stool specimens, but whether infectious virus is present in extrapulmonary specimens is being studied. It is also being studied whether other non-respiratory body fluids from an infected person including vomit, urine, breast milk, or semen can contain viable, infectious SARS-CoV-2.

Can people who recover from COVID-19 be infected again?

It is not yet known whether patients with COVID-19 who have tested positive for COVID can be infected again.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the CDC and IDPH websites.

Do I need to wear a mask?

To keep you and your family safe, we provide and require masks for all colleagues, patients and visitors at our facilities.

Are visitors allowed?

To ensure excellent patient care and family and visitor safety, we are continuing visitor restrictions. One adult may accompany a patient receiving anesthesia or sedation as part of their procedure, or if they are necessary for the patient’s visit, provided the visitor meets COVID-19 screening criteria. 

Visitors must follow all safety precautions, including wearing a mask, proper hand hygiene and social distancing. 

We will coordinate the details of your drop-off and pickup with your support person before and after your surgery or procedure.

Am I required to get tested if I have an appointment?

All patients undergoing an elective surgery or procedure will be tested for COVID-19 the day before or the day of the surgery or procedure. If the patient tests positive, their procedure will be postponed until clinically appropriate.

Is it safe to seek care at Loyola Medicine?

Enhanced safety and cleanliness protocols at all Loyola facilities are aimed at protecting our patients and visitors, physicians, providers and support staff.

Everyone entering our facilities will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19. We are also offering a mask to wear to prevent spread of infection to others. We have bed capacity to accommodate an increase in the need for COVID-19 patient care, if needed. 

You may be afraid anytime you need to visit a hospital or receive medical care, and we understand this is a more concerning time than usual. We are here for you and are committed to keeping you safe while you get the medical care you need.

What kind of care is available to me?

In addition to in-person visits, we are also offering telehealth services for select primary and specialty care services (routine check-ups and non-urgent care). Telehealth is virtual health care, allowing you to receive the same care you would get in an in-person clinic visit from the comfort of your home. Visit our online scheduling site to learn more about telehealth service options available at Loyola Medicine. 

If you are struggling with your emotional health, feel stressed or are depressed, please call 888-584-7888 for an appointment with a Loyola psychologist. We are here to help you. 

COVID-19 Testing

During these unprecedented times, it is important for you to know the cost of COVID-19 diagnostic testing. The COVID-19 test cash price is $135 – $375, depending on the type of test. The test conducted will be billed. Patients are not required to pay for COVID-19 tests. The cash price will be charged to third party payers if a contracted price has not been negotiated. The amount charged also is subject to adjustment if state law mandates pricing or the test is performed by a government agency.

Quarantining

Homes and Residential Communities

This guidance may help prevent COVID from spreading among people in their homes and in other residential communities.

The following guidance applies to:

  • People with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, including persons under investigation (PUI), who do not need to be hospitalized and who can receive care at home.
  • People with confirmed COVID-19, who were hospitalized and then determined to be medically stable to go home.
  • Household members, intimate partners, and caregivers in a non-health care setting of a person with symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19.
  • People with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 who do not need to be hospitalized.
  • People with confirmed COVID-19 who were hospitalized and determined to be medically stable to go home.

Your doctor and public health staff will evaluate whether you can be cared for at home (this may be an over-the-phone evaluation of your travel history, exposure history and symptoms). If it is determined that you do not need to be hospitalized and can be isolated at home but have high risk or known exposure to COVID-19, you will be asked to self-quarantine. Your local or state health department may check in on you.

Follow these prevention steps until your doctor or local or state health department says you can return to your normal activities.

Prevention

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day.
  • Monitor your symptoms.
  • Discontinuing home isolation.
  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
  • People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.

Animals

You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor.

If you have a medical appointment, call your provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Wear a face mask

You should wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a health care provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a mask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a mask if they enter your room. If they must be in the same room without a mask, then keep your distance from them (e.g., separation of six feet or more).

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.

Clean your hands often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid sharing personal household items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day

High-touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

Monitor your symptoms

Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty
breathing). Before seeking care, call your doctor and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for, COVID-19. Put on a face mask before you enter the facility. These steps will help the provider’s office keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed. Ask your provider to call the local or state health department. Persons who are placed under active monitoring or facilitated self-monitoring should follow instructions provided by their local health department or occupational health professionals, as appropriate.

If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a mask before emergency medical services arrive.

Discontinuing home isolation

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low. The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with health care providers and state and local health departments.

Recommended precautions for household members, intimate partners, and caregivers in a non-health care setting of persons with COVID-19 or persons being evaluated for COVID-19

Household members, intimate partners, and caregivers in a non-health care setting may have close contact with a person with symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or a person being evaluated for COVID-19. Close contacts should monitor their health; they should call their doctor right away if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath) .

Close contacts should also follow these recommendations:  

  • Household members should stay in another room or be separated from the person with COVID-19 as much as possible and use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.
  • Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.
  • Household members should care for any pets in the home. Do not handle pets or other animals while sick. _Make sure that shared spaces in the home have good air flow, such as by an air conditioner or an opened window, weather permitting.
  • Perform hand hygiene frequently. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • You and the person with COVID-19 should wear a mask if you are in the same room.
  • Avoid sharing household items with the person with COVID-19. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items. After the person with COVID-19 uses these items, wash them thoroughly.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables, every day. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool or body fluids on them.
    • Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly.
    • Immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool or body fluids on them.
    • Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items and keep soiled items away from your body. Clean your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after removing your gloves.
    • Read and follow directions on labels of laundry or clothing items and detergent. In general, using a normal laundry detergent according to washing machine instructions and dry thoroughly using the warmest temperatures recommended on the clothing label.
  • Place all used disposable gloves, masks and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household waste. Clean your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after handling these items. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Discuss any additional questions with your state or local health department or health care provider. 

Protect Yourself from COVID

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure. In general, we recommend taking the following precautions to avoid exposure:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  •  If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60-95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home if you 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.
  • Facemasks:  The CDC recommends that people who are well wear a cloth facemask when going out in public, especially to places where social distancing is difficult (i.e., grocery stores, pharmacies) to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

Precautions You Can Take if You Have COVID-19

You can take precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you have or suspect you have COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community:

  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals
  • Wear a face mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal items
  • Clean all "high-touch" surfaces everyday
  • Monitor any symptoms you might be experiencing
  • If you feel sick with fever, cough, have difficulty breathing, or if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, please call our Patient Access Center at 888-584-7888, Monday through Friday from 7 am – 4:30 pm.

Make an Appointment

You may be afraid anytime you need to visit a hospital or receive medical care, and we understand this is a more concerning time than usual. We are here for you and are committed to keeping you safe while you get the medical care you need.

To schedule your surgery, procedure or physician visit, please call 888-584-7888. 

We are also offering telehealth services for select primary and specialty care services (routine check-ups and non-urgent care). Telehealth is virtual health care, allowing you to receive the same care you would get in an in-person clinic visit from the comfort of your home. Visit our website’s online appointment page to learn more about telehealth service options available at Loyola Medicine.

How You Can Help

There are many ways you can help our health care providers, patients and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, including donating funds, meals and supplies. Please refer to the details below to find the right giving opportunity for you.

Monetary Donations

Loyola Medicine COVID-19 Medical Response Fund

The Loyola Medicine COVID-19 Medical Response Fund will address the greatest needs related to our regional COVID-19 response. Gifts to this fund will be available to support critical needs related to equipment, supplies, personnel, capital projects, telehealth, technology and operational expenses.

Loyola Medicine Colleague Assistance Fund

The Loyola Medicine Colleague Assistance Fund will assist employees who experience sudden, urgent financial hardship. Gifts to this fund will be available to provide assistance including childcare, elder care, housing, medical, utilities and other basic living expenses.
 

Meal Donations

Send a meal (or food/beverage donation) directly to nurses, physicians, food service workers and other members of our health care teams caring for COVID-19 patients.

Supply Donations

We are accepting (in original and sealed packaging):

  • Disposable masks, including N95 (Halyard & 3M only) and KN95 (any brand)
  • Hand sanitizers containing over 60% alcohol content
  • Hand-sewn cloth masks
  • Cavicide wipes
  • Disposable isolation gowns
  • Disposable surgical masks
  • Disposable surgical caps
  • Disposable foot covers
  • Disposable exam gloves, especially non-latex
  • Safety goggles
  • Face shields
  • Wipes (bleach or antimicrobial)​

Supplies Not Accepted

  • 3D ventilator parts
  • Medications
  • Blankets

Contact Information for Supply Donations

Email: Wil Gonzalez, Procurement Project Manager, Supply Chain
Phone: Donation Hotline: 708-216-5079 (Monday-Friday, 8 am – 5 pm)

COVID-19 Symptom Checker

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