CMH RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Please scroll down to learn about the COVID-19 vaccine and for answers to frequently asked questions about the virus.

COVID-19 VACCINATION UPDATE

Updated 1.13.21

Nearly 40,000 Capital Region residents have received the COVID-19 vaccine. As developments continue to rapidly unfold in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, visit www.CapitalRegionVAX.org. This webpage is updated regularly and includes useful information about New York’s tiers and about the vaccine itself. Volunteers are still needed to help distribute the vaccine. Volunteer information may be found on the webpage along with instructions about how to sign up via ServNY.

As of Monday, January 11, New York State moved into Phase 1B on the vaccination plan, which opens vaccine access to all community members and patients age 65 and older, as well as specific front-line essential workers, including police officers, first responders, teachers, childcare providers and others eligible in Phase 1B.

The Phase 1B announcement created a very high demand, as many are anxious to get their vaccination scheduled. Our operators, call centers, and physician offices are experiencing an extremely high volume of calls regarding vaccinations. Please do not call or email Columbia Memorial or your physician to schedule your appointment. We will share updates on our website as new information becomes available.

Below are some frequently asked questions:

When and where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Currently, vaccinations are by appointment only at community locations, and subject to vaccine availability and state-guided prioritization.

To determine your eligibility and make an appointment at a community location, you must go to NY.GOV/Vaccine and click on Am I Eligible?

OR follow this link: https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ and click “Get Started”. If you’re eligible, the website will display a message confirming eligibility and provide a list of locations with sign-up time slots. These are pharmacies, county-run sites and other community locations identified by the NYS Department of Health.

If you’re not able to fill out the form online, the state has launched a vaccination hotline to schedule an appointment. You can reach the hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).

As the vaccine becomes available to more people, we will share the information broadly through our website Columbia Memorial website, our social media accounts, and other channels.

 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FEEL SICK

If you aren’t feeling well, the best advice is to stay home and rest. Drink plenty of clear fluids. If symptoms persist or worsen, call your primary care physician or other health care provider.

What should I do if I think I’ve contracted the COVID-19 VIRUS?

To best protect you, our patients, our staff and the public, it is very important that you call your primary care provider before seeking testing or care for a coronavirus related concern. As always, if there is an emergent need for care of any kind, come directly to the ER without delay.

What is COVID-19?

While coronaviruses are common throughout the world, scientists have identified seven different types of the virus, from the common cold to more severe diseases such as coronavirus. This novel coronavirus is called COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that primarily spreads when coming in contact with the respiratory droplets — coughing, sneezing, saliva or nasal discharge — from an infected person.

To minimize spreading the virus, it is critical to practice good hygiene, washing your hands regularly with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water. Also, make sure to cough or sneeze into your flexed elbow and immediately discard tissues after being used.

What are the symptoms?

People with COVID-19 usually have a fever and respiratory symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, sore throat and runny nose. Some patients have gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea) as well.  In most patients the symptoms are not severe enough to warrant hospitalization, but in some patients (particularly those over the age of 60 or with weakened immune systems), symptoms can progress to pneumonia and in the most severe cases even death.

Is there a treatment for COVID-19?

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated based on your clinical condition. Supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.

If I have flu-like symptoms, what should I do?

If you aren’t feeling well, the best advice is to stay home and rest. Drink plenty of clear fluids. If symptoms persist or worsen, call your primary care physician or other health care provider.  They will ask you a series of questions to determine the level of risk that the illness you are experiencing is related to COVID-19 as opposed to other, more usual viruses such as the flu or common cold.

Consider urgent care centers if necessary, but avoid going to emergency departments—which are historically busy this time of year—unless your symptoms worsen and you have no other options to receive care.  It is important to call ahead before you arrive at an urgent care center, emergency room or doctor’s office so they know to take the appropriate precautions to protect other patients and the staff.

How is COVID-19 tested?

CMH tests individuals who are symptomatic and whose travel history suggests they may have been exposed. Testing is currently coordinated through the county and state health departments.

Who is CMH testing?

CMH is following guidance from the NY State Departments of Health to identify patients who benefit from testing for the COVID 19 virus.  These guidelines are updated frequently, and the most recent advice can be found here:

https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/

At this point, we are ONLY testing individuals who fit into one of the high-risk categories approved by the state and have symptoms.

What if I was in close contact with someone who has been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 patient?

The CDC does not recommend testing, symptom monitoring or special management for people exposed to asymptomatic people with potential exposures to COVID-19, such as in a household, workplace or social setting.

What is CMH’s plan to minimize the spread of COVID-19?

Patients and visitors may notice some changes that have been put in place, which includes visitor restrictions, Telehealth virtual appointments and asking screening questions to all patients.

How is CMH protecting staff?

All front-line providers in CMH’s Emergency Departments are trained and wearing the recommended personal protective equipment to reduce exposure when a potential case presents. CMH is following standards that meet and go beyond the CDC’s recommendations. The COVID-19 outbreak is an evolving situation and the health system stands ready to adhere to changing recommendations from regulatory agencies.

Any limitations on visitation?

Visitation Program for All Hospitalized Patients

Beginning January 8, 2021, CMH will temporarily suspend visitation to patient care units; except in the following circumstances:

  • Patient in labor/delivery process
  • Pediatric Patients
  • Patients who are terminally ill/end of life

This temporary change will greatly assist in keeping our staff, patients and community safe.

What else can I do to stay well during this crisis?

Remaining in good physical and emotional health is important as COVID-19 continues to spread. Consider the following tips:

  • Obtain your flu shot if you have not already. 
  • Exercise good judgement by avoiding non-essential travel to impacted areas identified by the CDC. 
  • Take practical steps such as routine handwashing to protect yourself and your families.

Other helpful information on COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website.

Helpful Resources

NYSDOH: Novel Coronavirus

CDC: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

CDC: What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

New York State Department of Health Coronavirus Hotline: 1-888-364-3065