Shenandoah Valley Gastroenterology Center is a collaborator in the National Quality Improvement Registry [GIQuIC] measuring quality of endoscopy services.
CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE (5/20/2020) — The new normal
Please note that we have gradually opened and are here to help you. As Shenandoah Valley Gastroenterology Center strives to keep patients and staff protected from COVID-19, we are also offering appointments using TeleHealth or GI on demand from the safety and comfort of your home.
OFFICE APPOINTMENTS ARE AVAILABLE NOW
Here is what to expect.
A. Check-in Process
- You will be screened with a pre-visit COVID-19 telephone questionnaire.
- You will receive an invitation to our secure and HIPAA compliant portal where you can fill out all your medical and demographic information. You can even make payments online or over the phone.
- The day of an office visit, you will wait in your vehicle/off premises. Do Not enter the office until you are instructed to do so.
- Upon your arrival, please call 540-437-0087. Leave a message if you get the voicemail, as the staff may be taking care of other patients. If you don’t get a response in the next 5-10 minutes, please call again.
- You will receive a telephone call when it's time to room you. Your relatives or companions must remain in the car.
- You must wear a mask or a washable cloth. This is important to protect yourself and the medical and non-medical staff.
- Your temperature will be taken by a staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) as you enter the office.
- You will be roomed in a private room. Thorough disinfection of rooms after every patient is the norm.
- No two patients will have a procedure back to back in the same room. This will allow time for proper disinfection and aeration of the room.
- Social distancing is the norm. There won’t be patients in the waiting room and no more than 10 people will be allowed in the building at once.
- Rigorous pre-procedure screening and recommended use of PPE (per the CDC) for all office staff and patients is mandatory.
- During the procedure you'll be wearing an oxygen mask to contain the spread of aerosols. Once recovered, your oxygen mask will come off and your personal mask will come on.
- The role of COVID testing is unclear (many false negatives), not widely available, and results are yet to be validated. However, if you wish to be tested prior to a procedure or visit, please contact us.
- Check-in and check-out times will be limited to the bare minimum to prevent crowding and unnecessary contact with others. If you feel that 100% of your questions weren’t answered on discharge, you’ll have a chance to discuss those questions in a two-week Telehealth follow-up. For more urgent questions, call the office back in the afternoon.
- Expect follow-up phone calls after the procedures in 7 and 14 days for an update on your health. If you do not hear from us or we can not connect for whatever reason, please do not hesitate to call us to let us know how you are doing.
- As the situation evolves, we’ll continue to re-evaluate and update you.
- You, the patient and the community are our biggest friends. If you have any questions, suggestions or see something doubtful, please don't hesitate to contact us. We want to be able to offer you the very best as we are here for you.
B. CALL US but DO NOT SHOW UP AT THE OFFICE IF YOU HAVE fever, cough, sore throat, allergies, new onset of loss of smell or taste, new onset of headaches, new onset nausea with or without vomiting, new onset of fatigue or lack of energy, upper body aches, respiratory illness, shortness of breath, any significant new or unusual symptom, tested positive for Coronavirus or think you have or have been exposed to COVID-19.
How to Protect Yourself & Others from COVID-19
Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19 illness. More information on Are you at higher risk for serious illness.
Know how it spreads
- There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
- The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
- The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
Wash your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home. If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
- Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home.
- Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
- Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
- Do not gather in groups.
- Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
- Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
- Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
- Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
- Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
Cover coughs and sneezes
- If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.
Monitor Your Health
- Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
- Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
- Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
For more information visit the CDC website.
Use this helpful tool to check your risk for COVID-19Coronavirus Checker
Thank you to the first responders and healthcare workers in the ER, and ICU for their bravery, courage and sacrifice.
May the force be with you!!!
Decrease your chances of contracting COVID-19
The best measures to decrease the risk of contracting COVID-19 are the same as standard practices against any viral illness, and include:
- Meticulous hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand sanitizers or soap and water.
- Washing your hands each time you enter into a room, or come in from the outside.
- Coughing or sneezing into your arm as opposed to hands or air.
- After using a tissue for your nose, always washing your hands and/or using hand sanitizer.
- Avoiding close contact with anyone with influenza-like and/or upper respiratory symptoms.
- Stay home if you are ill.
These are the facts about COVID-19 that we currently know:
- COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, the capital city of China’s Hubei Province, in December 2019.
- Most infections with COVID-19 appear to be mild (approximately 80%). Symptoms when present include:
- Fever (83-93%)
- Cough (46-82%)
- Myalgia, fatigue (11-44%)
- Shortness of breath (31%)
- Transmission is through respiratory droplets and secretions (person to person).
- Median time from first symptom onset to development of shortness of breath: 5-8 days.
- Fatality rate for hospitalized patients: 1.4%-15%.
- Incubation period averages 5 days, but ranges from 2-14 days.
- GI and Liver symptoms:
- Diarrhea (2-33%) and possibly may be a source of transmission
- Leukopenia (9-25%)
- Leukocytosis (25-30%)
- ALT/AST elevations (up to 37%)
- Elevated bilirubin (10%)
The elevations in liver tests appear to be associated with the most severe COVID-19 infections with mild acute self-limited elevations of liver tests being noted in those with mild COVID-19 infections.
Most importantly, we must recognize that COVID-19 is an evolving story and we need to do everything possible to keep our patients, our community, our families, and ourselves safe.
We will keep you updated with new information as it becomes available.
Make an Appointment for a Screening
Do you know how to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer? The risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with age. Colorectal cancer screening saves lives, but many people are not being screened. The first step is yours … contact our office to make an appointment.
Bob Corso of WHSV TV3 Interviews Dr. Pou about colonscopy advice
Consider this blog by Danny Zollars
Dr. Pou had the pleasure to meet Danny at a GI conference where Danny shared the patient perspective with doctors. There is a lot of depth to Danny's blog. Be sure to visit the archive pages.
Danny Zollars was diagnosed with Stage 4 rectal cancer at the age of 33 and found to have liver and lung metastases. He has undergone more than 30 surgeries and other procedures, 28 days of radiation therapy, weeks of hospital stays and months of chemotherapy to combat the disease. He was able to do all of this while being a part of two Stanley Cup Championships as the VP of Marketing for the LA Kings.
Danny's battle against this horrible disease has been ongoing for more than 4 1/2 years, and he will spend the first two months of 2018 sitting in the chemo chair to hold back multiple tumors in his lungs.
Needless to say, Danny has learned the ins and outs of the medical world and has a unique perspective he shares on his blog, Rectal Talk. It can be found at dannyzollars.tumblr.com.
Danny currently works for Image Engineering as the Executive Vice President of the Western US where he specializes in sports and entertainment production. He resides in LA with his wife Amy and their daughter Zoe.