Coronavirus FAQ

Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions & Updates

The SLVEmergency COVID-19 page, slvemergency.org/slv-covid-19, shows data from the region and is updated daily (not including weekends and holidays).

PSA from Konnie Martin, CEO, SLV Health

time is now to do your partAlamosa, Colorado. 11-12-2020

As you are likely aware, our region is experiencing a COVID surge. Different than our first two surges, many communities around the State of CO and the United States are experiencing surge at the same time. Because of the size and intensity of this surge, we are beginning to see implications to our health care system.

Here are several updates for your information:

  • COVID cases are increasing at a fast pace throughout the SLV.
  • Demand on/in the SLV Health Respiratory Clinic is increasing.
  • At the current time, SLVH has employees who are isolating or quarantined due to the disease or contact tracing.
  • At this time, we have 6 inpatient COVID positive patients with near capacity for our other beds, including Med/Surge, ICU and at Conejos County Hospital. Beds are directly related to availability of staffing.
  • Testing supplies for rapid COVID tests are in short supply, causing us to return to send-out test for various situations. We are reserving rapid tests for the healthcare workforce and bed placement needs. This may create longer waits for test results in some situations.
  • Hospitals all around CO are experiencing increased demand – with concerns rising that we may exceed bed capacity in certain areas of the state.
  • We have adequate PPE at this time, but the supply chain is unpredictable.
  • We are NOT planning any type of shut down at this time.

As we have shared throughout this pandemic, please follow safety guidelines: wear you mask, wash your hands, and socially distance. I know it is tough to face another surge.

We are all stretched and fatigued from COVID.

Let’s be kind, work together, and support each other. Please let me or any of our leaders know if you have specific questions.

Sincerely,

Konnie Martin, CEO, San Luis Valley Health

Is it Safe to Get a Flu Shot During the Pandemic?

Carmelo Hernandez, MD, SLV Health Chief Medical Officer addresses the question of getting a flu shot during the coronavirus pandemic. “COVID-19, the common cold, and influenza are all caused by viruses. In contrast to the first two, influenza has a vaccine available. With this vaccine, we expect to prevent an infection with the influenza virus or minimize the effect to an individual. A common misconception with this vaccine is that it causes the disease. This is not the case. Everyone should try to get an influenza vaccination, or more commonly known as the flu shot.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the impact on our society has been dramatic with over 215,194 COVID-19 deaths across our country, Jan-Oct 14, 2020. Consider this number compared to influenza, which annually causes between 12,000-61,000 deaths (cdc.gov/flu/about/burden).

Should I get my flu shot if I am COVID-19 Positive?

Vaccination of Persons with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19

Routine vaccination should be deferred for persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, regardless of symptoms, until criteria have been met for them to discontinue isolation. While mild illness is not a contraindication to vaccination, vaccination visits for these individuals should be postponed to avoid exposing healthcare personnel and other patients to the virus that causes COVID-19. When scheduling or confirming appointments for vaccination, patients should be instructed to notify the provider’s office in advance if they currently have or develop any symptoms of COVID-19.

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pandemic-guidance/index.html

Where can I get a COVID test?

Please contact the Respiratory Clinic during normal business hours. (719) 589-3000, press 9. Testing supplies are limited in the region and are reserved for pre-operative, emergency or hospitalized patients, patients who are showing signs of symptoms, or people who have been in close contact with a person who has a positive test result.

Do masks work?

The short answer is yes, along with other measures to keep yourself and those around you as healthy as possible. The CDC has a very good sight that explains this: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

SLV HEALTH IS SAFE FOR CARE

Message from Konnie Martin, CEO, SLV Health

"Our hospitals and clinics have made significant changes in recent months to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases while caring for patients. As your trusted partner in health since 1927, your health and well-being have been our top priority, especially during these uncertain times. Not only have we been able to safely test, treat, and isolate COVID-19 positive patients, we have sufficiently equipped and re-trained our caregivers and front line staff on proper infection control practices. Facilities has implemented social distancing in waiting rooms, mask-use in common areas, and limited entrance and exit points. Maintenance staff are regularly conducting deep-cleaning throughout our buildings. Clinicians have also made the painful but necessary decision to place restrictions on visitors, in alignment with CDC guidance. Our caring and dedicated staff have provided exemplary care for all of our patients and are deeply appreciated. We are proud of our track record and welcome all of our patients, visitors, and travelers to our safe facilities."

Does SLV Health offer COVID-19 Antibody Testing?

Yes, at both labs, in La Jara and in Alamosa. Please call ahead to schedule an appointment. Antibody testing appointments are available Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Please print and bring this form to your appointment.

Conejos County Hospital Lab: 719-274-6021

Regional Medical Center Lab: 719-587-1226

What is considered an outbreak?

Colorado uses specific definitions and criteria when talking about COVID-19 outbreaks. A confirmed outbreak is two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a facility or (non-household) group that began in a 14 day period. Most of Colorado’s outbreaks in this pandemic are in health care facilities like nursing homes, which is why our local facilities are being so very cautious in order to protect their residents and employees. There are also outbreaks in jails, workplaces, and other settings.

How many coronovirus tests have been administered in Alamosa County?

This number changes daily and is not currently published consistently, but the most consistent source for local statistics still resides with the public health department who report it to the public on SLVEmergency.org.

Where can I get tested if I suspect I might have the coronavirus?

To get tested, call:
• SLVHealth Respiratory Clinic
• 719-589-3000 ext. 9

FAQ's from the regional Healthcare Coalition

FAQs:

I was diagnosed with COVID-19, but I feel ok (I am asymptomatic, or I have recovered). When can I go back to work? If you received a positive COVID-19 test result, it is important to follow the guidelines Public Health gave you when they contacted you to follow up on the test result. Everyone’s case is different, depending on exposure, symptom severity and duration, and close contacts. If you have questions, call your local Public Health office.

My employer wants to know when I can come back to work, what can I tell them?

Tell them that you do not have a specific date, but need to stay home at least ten days since getting tested (with a positive test) or since you started feeling sick. This may be extended if you still feel sick after ten days, especially if you have a fever, or if Public Health has recommended you continue to stay home.

I was told to quarantine, but I got tested and the test was negative, can I go back to work? No, you need to stay home until the full 14 days of quarantine are over.

I’ve been told by Public Health to isolate, but I need a work excuse, how can I get one? Your Public Health office can provide a letter with isolation/quarantine recommendations that can be used for that purpose.

My employer told me I need a negative COVID-19 test result to come back to work. How do I get one? A negative COVID-19 test is not recommended by Public Health for clearance to go back to work. A person can test positive for several weeks despite being asymptomatic or properly recovered. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), “Negative results do not rule out the potential for infection and may offer a false sense of security.” More guidance for workplaces and employers can be found here: https://covid19.colorado.gov/guidance-resources.

I need a letter of clearance to go back to work, how do I get one? Public Health can provide a note saying you are no longer under quarantine or isolation guidance, but cannot officially “clear” you of COVID-19 to return to work.

I am asymptomatic. I was tested for COVID after close contact with someone who tested positive, and my test came back negative, when can I get tested again? You should wait at least 7 days if you are still asymptomatic to pursue testing again.

What are the visitor restrictions at the hospital? I need to be with my loved one at this time.

As of November 5, 2020, new visitor restrictions are in place. All visitors must check in at the front desk. No visitors are allowed physically to visit a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19. All visitors are required to wear a mask or face covering while in SLVH facilities. All visitors will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. Visitors are required to wash their hands or use an alcohol-based hand rub before entering or leaving a patient's room. All visitors are required to practice social or physical distancing, stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms' length) from others while in public areas.

One visitor (18 years or older) per patient per day is allowed. All visitors must stay in patient rooms or exam areas to limit traffic throughout the facility. All other family members and friends will NOT be permitted to enter the facility or wait in lobby or common areas.

Visitor restrictions are in place across all SLVH facilities, including clinics and the emergency department.

Visitors may use the SLVH cafeteria services. Staff can assist with virtual visitations for COVID patients.

Does a fever up to 103 degrees help one fight the coronavirus disease?

A fever is the body's way of attempting to fight off infection. However, a very high fever can also be harmful and should be addressed. If fever reducing medications are not working a person should consult with a medical provider, and may call our triage line for additional guidance, (719) 589-2511, press 9. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Please leave a message if after hours.

In the meantime, some additional things that can help reduce fever are increasing fluid intake (preferably clear liquids), remove warming clothes such as jackets, sweats, and blankets, use cool packs on the forehead, under the arms, and in the groin.

If you don’t have access to a thermometer, some indications of a fever would include: feeling/looking flushed, experiencing chills, shivering, being hot to the touch (when someone else touches a neutral area like the cheeks or forehead). Sometimes elderly people may also get confused, agitated, and disoriented.

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911.

The average normal body temperature is generally accepted as 98.6°F (37°C). Some studies have shown that the "normal" body temperature can have a wide range, from 97°F (36.1°C) to 99°F (37.2°C). A temperature over 100.4°F (38°C) most often means you have a fever caused by an infection or illness.

Who should be wearing a protective facemask?

  • Yes! Keep others safe when you are out in public.
  • If you are coughing frequently, you should wear a facemask to limit possible exposure to others;
  • Healthcare workers who are testing, triaging, and treating patients who are ill, will wear appropriate Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) according to CDC guidelines.
  • Research has shown that a DIY (Do it Yourself) mask may help block the spread of COVID-19 by preventing people who are asymptomatically infected from spreading the disease unknowingly. There are many ways in which you can create a mask to wear from using a bandanna to sewing a mask using one of the many DIY patterns available. While the DIY mask may help slow the spread of COVID-19, it does not provide 100% safety from transmission. It is important to wash your hands, follow the stay-at-home orders and adhere to the social distancing guidelines

How can I protect myself? Is there a vaccine?

Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:

  • Avoid contact with sick people and stay home when you are ill.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60-95% alcohol.
  • It is especially important to clean your hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to practice the prevention strategies described above and avoid being exposed. If you have not received the flu vaccine,it is not too late! Visit https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses and scroll down for the answer about vaccines.

What should I do if I think I have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

  • If you feel you have symptoms, please call SLV Health at (719) 589-2511 and press 9.
  • The most common symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Other symptoms like loss of smell are listed on the CDC website.
  • The nurses and providers will probably make special arrangements if they suspect you have the coronavirus and want you to come in for testing or for a visit.
  • Click here for people who have or might have Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and their families or caregivers.

  • Going to the clinic or hospital without calling ahead could expose more people to the virus.
  • What are the less common symptoms of COVID-19?

    Other less common symptoms include headache, loss of taste and smell, nausea, diarrhea and body aches. If you have mild symptoms, you can usually self-care, rest, and make sure to stay hydrated. The symptoms should resolve in a week or less.

    If you develop emergency warning signs you should get medical attention immediately - these include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to wake up, or bluish lips or face.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html

What constitutes having a fever?

Having a fever usually means that an adult body temperature has reached 100.4° F (38°C) or higher, but this can vary between people. An infection, such as the flu, is the most common cause of fever.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/fever-in-adults2

I am getting ready to go on a trip. What should I know about any sort of travel restrictions?

It's important to stay informed about travel restrictions. Call your airline ahead of your travel date. The CDC has a helpful web page.

How is coronavirus treated?

The best treatment is prevention! The more that patients and caregivers can do to prevent spreading the virus, the better. Treatment will vary, depending upon the patient's level of acuity. Washing hands for a minimum of 20 seconds and using alcohol-based rubs will help prevent the virus from spreading.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

Can I get tested in the San Luis Valley anywhere? If so, what is the process and how long will it take for me to get the results?

The people being tested are those who are hospitalized, have been identified by Public Health to be part of a possible outbreak, are planning to have surgery, or have severe manifestations of the disease.

Will wearing a mask help prevent me from getting the virus?

  • Wear a mask if you are coughing, sneezing, or around other people.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.ht

How Can I Find The Video To Sew A Mask?

Click Here to find a video with instructions how to sew a facemask.

Further Resources – These links address current Coronavirus (COVID-19) facts.

American Hospital Association

Center for Disease Control

World Health Organization

Center for Disease Research and Policy

Please submit your question by sending an email to VirusFAQ@slvrmc.org

You will not receive a personal email reply. Your question may be addressed on our FAQ page, so please check back frequently.