Dear Clinic Members,
In addition to a staffing update, today’s newsletter addresses the Omicron variant, our options for Covid testing, and the new antiviral medicines.
Our hearts are very heavy this week for our medical assistant, Leah, whose husband tragically passed away on Tuesday. If we are running a bit behind on responding to messages or phone calls, we very much appreciate your patience and understanding.
In other updates, the omicron surge is very much upon us at this time. Within our own membership we are seeing infection rates far higher than at any prior time during the pandemic. We have two main messages that we wish for our members to keep in mind at this point:
1. masks and social distancing remain effective at reducing viral transmission. We recommend properly-sourced* N-95 masks or KN-95 masks if possible. Double-masking with the inside layer being a surgical mask is the next best option if you’re unable to source these for yourself. As always, masks must cover the mouth and nose, and should have a snug fit around the face so that air is passing through the mask material rather than bypassing it.
2. remember that when vaccinated and boosted, the risk of hospitalization due to severe illness remains low.
We appreciated this Seattle Times article regarding how one might go about safely re-using N-95 masks.
We have adequate testing capacity at the office currently for members with Covid symptoms as well as known Covid contacts. We have both the ID Now molecular tests and Binax Now rapid tests, and we evaluate on a case-by- case basis which test is the best choice.
We were quite pleased last month to see the emergency use approval by the FDA for the new Pfizer and Merck antiviral medicines These are for people to take when infected with Covid, and they appear to be quite effective at preventing hospitalization. While this is extremely encouraging, we expect several weeks at the very least until they are available for use. Plan to hear further updates about these new antiviral medicines going forward.
For anyone whose insurance has changed effective 01/01/2022, please let our front office know so that we can update your information in our system.
Again, we are so very appreciative of our members, both throughout the pandemic and in particular during this latest surge. While Member Plus Family Health has fared comparatively well with our staffing and supplies during the course of the pandemic, the Omicron surge has presented some new challenges for us. We are up to the task, however, and will continue to occupy ourselves with attending to your health needs.
With deep respect,
Dr. Crandell and Staff
*Sourcing on genuine masks has been a problem throughout the pandemic, although the situation has improved over time. There is a list of approved masks on the CDC website here. You can also find a list of known counterfeit masks here. Lastly, one source of apparently-reliable masks is bonafidemasks.com (we ar unable to formally endorse this seller, but it’s one place to start your search).