CORONAVIRUS

As we continue to battle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we want to assure you that Southern Cancer Center is closely monitoring new information and new developments from healthcare officials. The health and safety of our patients remains our top priority. We strongly encourage all patients NOT experiencing flu-like symptoms to continue with their prescribed treatment plans and attend all previously scheduled appointments. Your cancer care needs currently outweigh the risk posed at this time.

*** SCC patients should immediately notify our office if you are experiencing symptoms of a cough, fever or difficulty breathing, flu-like symptoms or if you may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Due to the nature of our patient population, it is IMPERATIVE that patients call our office for further direction prior to coming into the office for medical care if they are experiencing symptoms or believe they may have been exposed.

As a reminder, we have physicians available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If our patients or their families require assistance outside of normal business hours, please call our office at 251.625.6896 and our on-call staff will assist you further.

Visitor’s Policy

The following restrictions are in place at all Southern Cancer Center clinics, effective immediately until further notice (updated 1/1/21):

  • ONE visitor per patient allowed ONLY for new patients or those physically unable to care for themselves.
  • NO other visitors are allowed and may wait outside of the facility.
  • Approved visitors will be screened prior to entering our clinics. Any visitor who is coughing or shows other signs of illness will be asked to wait outside.
  • ALL patients and visitors MUST wear a face covering and practice social distancing while inside of our clinics. Patients are encouraged to bring their own face covering; however, a mask will be available to those who need it upon clinic entry, as supplies last.
  • ALL patients and visitors MUST have a temperature check by a member of our staff.
  • All patients and visitors should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before entering our clinics.

Telemedicine

For your safety and convenience, Southern Cancer Center offers virtual appointments scheduled through a service called telemedicine. These appointments allow for a real-time conversation between you and your provider through a secure platform. Telemedicine does not eliminate the need for patients to travel for certain aspects of treatment and in-person doctor visits, but offers patients the option to visit with their physician when traveling to the office is not ideal.

How It Works: Your provider will connect to your smartphone or tablet using a HIPAA compliant app found in your app store. During your visit, you and your provider will be able to see and hear one another. If you’re having trouble downloading the app or connecting to it, please call our office at 251.625.6896 and trained members of our staff will be able to assist you.

Who Can You Speak With: Every physician and nurse practitioner at Southern Cancer Center is available for appointments through telemedicine.

Appropriate Telemedicine Visits: Each of our providers will independently determine when a telemedicine visit is appropriate for a patient, but some examples may include:

  • Evaluate patients that have infectious risk without bringing them in to the office
  • Select new patient visits
  • Acute care visits
  • Certain patient education and/or counseling visit
  • Support our patients who are on active treatment
  • Provide routine care and follow up of our patients who are not on active treatment

Insurance Coverage: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most major insurance carriers now provide various levels of coverage for telemedicine visits.

See this patient facing, step-by-step guide to download the VSee program used for a telemedicine visit: https://enews.mckessonspecialtyhealth.com/rs/856-MGL-296/images/PatientPCInstructions.mp4

How Our Patients Can Protect Themselves

Cancer patients often have compromised immune systems and therefore can be at additional risk for catching COVID-19. Patients and their caregivers can protect themselves by taking common-sense prevention steps:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly, frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
  • Avoid close contact, for at least 14 days, with anyone who may have traveled to an area with COVID-19 outbreaks.
  • Stay home if you are not well.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid large crowds while receiving active therapy and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or cough into your elbow, then throw the tissue into a trash can.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects with a bleach or alcohol based cleaning solution.
  • If your caregiver is sick they should seek medical help and avoid contact with them until they are well or free from fever for at least 24-48 hours.

It may be necessary to wear a face mask.

  • The CDC recommends that the general population wear non-medical, cloth face masks or coverings in public and whenever social distancing is difficult to maintain. All face coverings should cover both the nose and mouth.
  • Face coverings are to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.

Steps Southern Cancer Center is taking due to COVID-19:

  • The CDC-recommended protocols for healthcare providers regarding COVID-19 are aligned with existing protocols for flu season, which already are in place at Southern Cancer Center.
  • During flu season we emphasize an array of preventative measures that protect our staff and our patients from exposure to illness. These include hand hygiene (washing hand with soap and/or alcohol-based sanitizers) and proper use of personal protective equipment like gloves, face masks and gowns.
  • In addition, our teams have been educated to our established protocol for isolating patients who come into our locations exhibiting concerning symptoms. As the COVID-19 situation changes, we will keep our staff and our patients updated.
  • We have restricted office access to outside vendors and non-essential reps, as well as made modifications to our patient visitor’s policy (see above).
  • We have implemented travel restrictions for our employees, are checking staff temperatures, have taken extra employee “social distancing” precautions, and have mandated that any employee(s) with fever and respiratory symptoms stay home.

Quarantine

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been in close contact or exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department. Close contact could mean:

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

Those who test positive for COVID-19, should isolate themselves even if they are not experiencing symptoms. Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their own home.

About the Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face. The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).

Risk Factors

The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person among those in close contact, or persons within about 6 feet of each other. The virus spreads by respiratory droplets released when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes, breathes, sings or talks. These droplets can be inhaled or land in the mouth, nose or eyes of a person nearby.

It can also spread if a person touches a surface or object with the virus on it and then touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes, although this isn’t considered to be a main way it spreads. In some situations, the COVID-19 virus can spread by a person being exposed to small droplets or aerosols that stay in the air for several minutes or hours — called airborne transmission. It’s not yet known how common it is for the virus to spread this way.

Symptoms

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu and respiratory illnesses. Symptoms may appear from 2-14 days after exposure. The CDC recommends that patients showing signs and symptoms be isolated to prevent infecting others with the virus for a period of 14 days. If a person experiences any of the following symptoms, especially fever, cough or shortness of breath, he or she should consult a physician.

  • Fever or Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or Body Aches
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Runny Nose
  • Headache
  • New Loss of Taste or Smell
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Persistent Pain or Pressure in Chest
  • New Confusion
  • Inability to Wake or Stay Awake
  • Bluish Lips or Face

Vaccine/ Treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization for two coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Supply of these vaccines are limited and are being managed (locally) by The Alabama Department of Public Health. Please know that Southern Cancer Center is closely following vaccine related developments from federal and state agencies. We’ll share more information about the vaccine and its impact for the Southern Cancer Center community as the situation develops.

Southern Cancer Center is currently not administering the coronavirus vaccine due to limited allocation within the state of Alabama and logistical constraints. Information about vaccine (vaccine status, availability, safety, etc.) is updated regularly and made available at these following sites:

Resources

We urge you to turn to trusted, reliable sources for information about COVID-19, to help you avoid misinformation. It is important to understand the facts to avoid unnecessary or misplaced fear. We recommend these websites:

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