From NCMS: Keeping up with Covid-19: Special Message from NCDHHS for Primary Care Providers

March 17, 2020

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) recognizes that many primary care and outpatient clinics may be feeling overwhelmed with the vast amount of nearly hourly news about Covid-19 and are looking for easy access to practical information as they are on the frontlines of patient care. Yesterday NCDHHS sent a message to providers with links to topics that are of most interest at the moment. Here is that message:

“As you are aware, there has been a rapid increase in COVID-19 infections across the country and we have begun to see cases in North Carolina over the past two weeks. In partnership with our providers and our local health departments, we have been doing intensive containment strategies for the first phase of our response. This includes proactive identification of cases, isolation of sick patients, and contact tracing and quarantine of exposed people.
All cases confirmed in the state thus far have been in persons who have traveled outside the state or had contact with a known or suspected case during the incubation period. However, we expect that community transmission is occurring in our state and so North Carolina has implemented several proactive community mitigation measures to complement our containment strategies and reduce opportunities for transmission and “flatten the curve”. Increasing access to testing for individuals is important in this stage to help with our containment strategies, to understand better the spread of infection in North Carolina, and to inform our mitigation strategies.

We know that providers need help in understanding how to facilitate testing and caring for their patients. The NCDHHS is committed to providing updated information and guidance to help North Carolina clinicians respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, please find attached three documents:

1. Guidance for COVID-19 assessment in outpatient settings;
2. Interim guidance for use of personal protective equipment; and
3. Interim guidance for discontinuation of home isolation for persons with COVID-19.

All primary care providers have a role to play in assessing patients with COVID-19 concerns. We hope that these documents will help you better serve your patients, including understanding how to access testing for those who need it.

Additional guidance for health care providers and other groups is available at www.ncdhhs.gov. This is a rapidly evolving situation and guidance will change as we continue to learn more. We will continue to disseminate guidance but we encourage you to check the website for the latest guidance.”

Note that NCMS has compiled a list of links with guidance from the NCDHHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on testing guidance, personal protective equipment, reimbursement and telehealth and other topics on our Covid-19 webpage. Access it here.

NCDHHS and NC AHEC will again have a Provider Forum this Friday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to answer your questions directly. Please submit your questions by 5 p.m. on Wednesday to questionsCOVID19forum@gmail.com). Access the forum through your computer at https://zoom.us/j/705979628. Or you can dial-in for audio-only, by calling 1-646-558-8656 and entering the conference ID: 705979628#. Last week, the subject matter expert on the call did answer some questions that came in live.

Remember: The most timely and credible information is available at the
NC Department of Health and Human Services Covid-19 website
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website
• For immediate questions/concerns from members of the public, please call 866-462-3821.
• For non-urgent health care provider questions, please email ncresponse@nc.dhhs.gov.
• For urgent provider or local health department questions, please call 919-733-3419 (available 24/7). Please do NOT give this number to patients and members of the public.

A huge THANK YOU to the many health care professionals who are responding with care and compassion during this historic, rapidly evolving and stressful situation.

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