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COVID Cases Climbing at Innovative Care Testing Center

A sudden spike in COVID-19 test positivity rates suggests the virus is making its way back into our community. Innovative COVID, our testing site located at 1111 W. Diversey Parkway, is seeing an average positivity rate of around 5% this week to date. Just two weeks ago, the positivity rate at our clinic was holding steady at around 0.5 to 1%. 

This is a dramatic increase in positivity rate. Right on the heels of Lollapalooza and the city opening up. If you haven’t already, you’re going to be hearing about someone you know getting COVID even after getting the vaccine. Let’s figure out what this means.

Who is at Risk?

Unvaccinated individuals are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19, period. If you are eligible to get vaccinated, please do so. This is our best defense against COVID. Vaccinated individuals are not 100 percent protected from the virus, but they have a far lower risk of serious illness. Vaccination offers a significant level of protection to the individual. It also helps protect others around you. 

What is the Delta Variant? 

The CDC is watching new strains closely, as variants of the virus have the potential to spark new waves of illness. One variant in particular that is on the CDC watch list is the Delta strain (B.1.617.2). This mutation of COVID-19 was first detected in India in February 2021. This strain of COVID-19 is active in the United States and should be taken seriously. Early data has shown that if you have been vaccinated, the strain most likely will not affect you. Unvaccinated individuals are at the greatest risk. That said, breakthrough infections (COVID-19 in people who are vaccinated) do happen. The good news is this…if you’ve been vaccinated, you will have a lighter, more mild case of the virus. The flu vaccine works very much the same way. Getting the flu vaccine does not mean you can’t catch the flu. It does however mean that if you do catch it, your case will be more mild due to the fact that you have some level of protection. I strongly recommend that anyone who is eligible be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Who should be tested for COVID-19?
  • Anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should be tested, whether they are vaccinated or not
  • Unvaccinated individuals who have had a known exposure to the COVID-19 virus should be tested 5-7 days after that exposure, even if they do not have symptoms. 
If I’m vaccinated and get exposed, do I really need to get tested?

This is a tricky one. Here’s the issue, the Delta strain is extremely contagious. As we are seeing at Innovative Care, the vaccine does not fully protect you from getting COVID-19 again. You’ve probably seen news stories about this, but what the media does not mention enough is this: If you have received a vaccine, the risk of you being hospitalized due to COVID-19 illness is very low

Which means: vaccinated people can get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, however, their illness is extremely mild. But here’s the other tricky part, these people with mild symptoms who are positive for COVID-19 are still contagious. There are children and unvaccinated individuals who are still susceptible to getting very sick, or may even die, from a COVID-19 illness. This means that if you are exposed to COVID-19, and will be with people who are vulnerable (unvaccinated or have significant comorbidities), you should get tested.

Catching COVID-19 cases early allows us to isolate and stop the virus from spreading to others. Innovative Care offers COVID-19 testing seven days a week at our Diversey clinic. Appointments are recommended, but not required. Walk-ins are welcome. 

Will we see another shutdown?

While we certainly hope not, it is possible that we will see restrictions be put back in place. Numerous countries are struggling with a resurgence of COVID-19. Mask requirements, and if needed, restrictions play an important role in protecting those most vulnerable. Our priority remains to get as many people vaccinated as possible so we can continue to keep businesses open and events happening. 

Avoid COVID Fatigue

After 16 plus months of COVID-19 talk, it’s normal to be “over it” and want to move on. Let’s face it…everyone wishes this was all just a bad dream. Sadly, it’s not, and it will take effort from all of us to get rid of COVID-19 in our community. Our team has been here since day one, and we will continue to serve our community through virus testing and care. I ask that you do your part as well. Get vaccinated. Get tested if you are symptomatic and take isolation guidelines seriously if you are unvaccinated and exposed to the virus. If we all continue to do our part, we will continue to enjoy dinners out, baseball games, concerts and more. Hang in there, Chicago!

Innovative Primary Care to Offer Newly FDA Approved Obesity Drug


Obesity is a chronic medical condition that requires long term management. It is associated with many serious health conditions and decreased life expectancy. So why don’t we treat it the same way we treat so many other chronic conditions more often? We use medications for blood pressure, cholesterol and other conditions in association with diet and exercise, yet with obesity, patients are too often expected to make a change on their own. This is beginning to change. Earlier this month, the FDA approved Wegovy to be used in addition to diet and exercises. 

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is an injectable, once weekly medicine used for adults 18 and above, with BMI 30 or above, or BMI 27 and above who also have weight-related medical problems to help them to lose weight and keep the weight off. 

Wegovy contains semaglutide, a GLP1 receptor agonist, with 94% similarity to naturally occurring human GLP-1 hormone. It induces weight loss by reducing hunger, increasing feeling of fullness and thereby helping people to eat less. Participants in clinical trials lost an average of 17-18 percent of their weight and sustained their weight over 68 weeks. This is a significant amount when you consider it equates to 45-60lb lost for someone 300 pounds. 

While the drug has been officially approved by the FDA, it is not yet widely available for use in weight management. Insurers have not yet determined how much of this prescription-only drug will be covered, but there is a savings program. You can pay $25 for a 28-day supply for Wegovy. Without insurance, semaglutide can cost up to $1,500 per month. 

We are excited to have another tool in our arsenal in the fight against obesity, and we are excited to include Wegovy in our Innovative Weight Management program. 

Innovative Weight Management

If you have struggled with your weight for years, it may be time for a new approach. Innovative Primary Care can help. You won’t find fad diets here. We offer medical weight loss solutions to help you achieve a healthy weight. 

Having your physician by your side is a game-changer when it comes to weight loss. Sure, your doctor has probably suggested you lose weight before, but have they ever really helped you accomplish it? Innovative Weight Management is a physician led program. We record benchmarks and help you every step of the way. Insurance is accepted.  

The 12-month program includes:

  • Regular check-ins (weekly for the first four weeks, monthly thereafter)
  • All four core elements of weight management will be addressed: behavior, nutrition, physical activity and pharmacology. 

Let’s reach your goals together. Schedule an appointment at Innovative Primary Care today.

Summer Sniffles, Sneezes and Coughs On the Rise

flu shot 2020

Illinois is in phase 5, restrictions have been lifted and summer fun is underway. It’s good to feel normal again! But as we unmask and gather together, we may be swapping more than handshakes and hugs. Cold viruses are making a comeback, too. Isolation and mask-wearing allowed us to largely skip the winter cold season. Now, as we make up for lost time, those pesky viruses are spreading once again. This, coupled with a bad allergy season, has a lot of people sniffling, sneezing and coughing their way into summer. So how can you tell a summer cold from COVID? Do you need a COVID test if you become symptomatic? Should you head to urgent care? Here’s what you need to know:

Cold viruses versus COVID

We are absolutely seeing an uptick in cold-like symptoms. While similar to COVID-19 symptoms, there are some differences to watch for. For example, COVID-19 often causes coughing and shortness of breath, coupled with body aches. Summer colds tend to be more similar to allergies, with sneezing, sniffling and a cough. They are also more short-lived. 

When to test for COVID

COVID-19 numbers are low right now, but there are still cases in the area. New strains, such as the Delta strain (originated in India) are causing illness in unvaccinated individuals. Determining whether you have a summer cold or COVID-19 can be tricky since symptoms are similar, but here are a few general guidelines:

If you are vaccinated, it’s most likely a summer cold. Breakthrough COVID cases are possible, however they are not common. Pay attention to your symptoms. If they are minor and more sneezing, sniffling as opposed to shortness of breath, fever, body aches, and you are vaccinated, you probably have a cold virus. 

If you were exposed to COVID-19, you should take your symptoms seriously and get tested for the virus. Known exposures still warrant testing, especially if you are symptomatic. Follow the quarantine guidelines if you have no symptoms but have had a known exposure. 

Do you have summer allergies? This season has been a bad one for summer allergies. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s very possible that your symptoms are related to the season. Allergies can develop into a sinus infection, so contact your primary care provider if your allergy medication is not helping or your symptoms continue. 

Urgent Care appointments are easy

Innovative Express Care is open seven days a week and making an appointment is easy with online scheduling. Be sure to tell our receptionist if you are having symptoms that are associated with COVID-19 when you check in. This way we can lead you directly to an exam room. We offer COVID-19 testing at our urgent care and at our dedicated COVID-19 testing site. Innovative Express Care also offers telemedicine visits, which are a great way to discuss your symptoms with a medical provider from the comfort of your own home. An in-person visit may still be required, but many illnesses can be diagnosed remotely, allowing you to get a treatment plan and medical advice without ever leaving home. 

Vaccines available

If you have not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19, we strongly urge you to do so. Innovative Express Care is currently offering the Pfizer vaccine for individuals age 12 and up at our Downers Grove location. 

Innovative Express Care Celebrates Six Years of Exceptional Care

Six years ago, Innovative Express Care started as a dream to do healthcare differently. More than a decade in the Emergency Department at a large academic medical center had opened my eyes to gaps in the healthcare system. It also allowed me to realize the need for greater innovation and technology to improve the patient experience. I wanted to evolve the healthcare experience. 

Pairing Quality with Convenience

Long before telemedicine was mainstream (thanks COVID), Innovative Express Care used virtual visits to afford patients more convenience. Virtual visits work well for medication refills, symptom consults, and more, and they can be done from a patient’s home or office. 

Innovative also offers online scheduling. Patients can easily secure an appointment time that works within their schedule. Walk-in wait times are also published. 

Forward Thinking

As an independent clinic, Innovative is nimble. We execute on our ideas quickly. In 2016, we expanded our services to include medical cannabis certification. While legal in Illinois, most medical providers were not supporting patients who chose to pursue cannabis as a means of symptom relief. Innovative Express Care quickly became the go to clinic for patients who wanted to incorporate cannabis alongside traditional therapies for chronic pain and/or depression caused by a qualifying medical condition. 

Innovative Express Care was also among the first clinics in Chicago to offer Ketamine infusions for the treatment of severe depression, anxiety and PTSD. Demand for both medical cannabis certification and ketamine infusions ultimately spurred two new clinics, now known as Innovative Wellness and Innovative Ketamine. 

Caring for our Community

When COVID-19 hit Chicago, Innovative was among the first medical providers to respond to the need for community testing. We erected a medical tent in our parking lot to see symptomatic patients safely, while reducing exposure and the risk of transmission to other patients. Our team later moved to a larger site that allowed us to see over 1,500 patients every day. 

Still, every appointment filled daily. Patients demand prompted us to establish three additional testing sites. By fall, our testing capacity was more than 3,000 COVID-19 tests per day. 

Innovative Express Care was the first clinic in Chicago to offer COVID-19 antibody testing. We were also among the first clinics to have the COVID-19 vaccine. We have worked to curb this pandemic for more than a year at this point, and we will not stop until COVID-19 is behind us. 

Six Clinics Strong
  • Innovative Express Care drew many patients who did not have a medical home and needed a primary care provider. Innovative Primary Care was born from this need and began seeing patients in 2016. Today, the busy primary care has five medical providers. 
  • Innovative Therapy was also established to serve the needs of Innovative Express Care patients. A behavioral health component has allowed us to meet both the physical and emotional needs of our patients, while also providing consults on PTSD and ADHD. 
  • Innovative MedSpa offers a full range of services, including facials, Botox, fillers, PRP therapy and more. 
  • Innovative Ketamine is a leader in IV ketamine infusions for the treatment of depression, anxiety and PTSD. 
  • Innovative Wellness continues to be Chicago’s choice for medical cannabis certification and cannabis consulting. 
What does the future hold?

In six years, we evolved from one standalone urgent care, to a full medical group. We call this Innovative Care. Our focus moving forward will be on primary care, urgent care and behavioral health. The combination of these services in one medical group will make Innovative Care unique. We will grow our three key practices, while nurturing the affiliate practices our patients also love. Innovative Care will be the “go to” place for primary care, urgent care and behavioral health on Chicago’s North side. Patients will continue to choose Innovative Care because we provide high-quality health care that is also efficient and convenient. Technology and innovative thinking improve the patient experience.

Innovative Care is healthcare evolved, and we look forward to continuing to execute on the mission we set for ourselves six years ago.


COVID Policies are Key in Spring Sports

Spring sports are back and parents and kids alike are thrilled. Fresh air, exercise, and a sense of “normal” is a welcome change after a year of restrictions. We are thrilled, too, but we also want to make sure the rules of the game are clear, as we are not out of the woods when it comes to COVID. 

Don’t Brush Off Precautions

While it’s true that the risk of virus spread is less outdoors, it still exists. Rather than throw caution (and face masks) to the wind, keep some protocols in place to protect your players. Spacing on the bench, masks in the dugout, sanitizing stations and more can go a long way to keeping your team from being sidelined. 

Take Quarantine Time Outs Seriously

Parents are always asking…my kid can’t go to school because of a possible exposure. Can they still go to practice? The answer is no. If you are quarantined from school, you are quarantined from sports, too. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Protect your teammates and their families so we can keep virus spread to a minimum. Sports are back, so let’s keep them running by practicing safely. 

Get Your Stats Straight

Until you have a COVID positive case or exposure in your house, you may not pay much attention to the timelines. So here’s a breakdown:

If you test positive to COVID, you must quarantine for 10 days (from your positive test). 

If you were exposed to COVID, you must quarantine for 14 days. Eager to get back to the game sooner? If you have no symptoms, you can get a PCR test 5-7 days after your most recent exposure to the virus. For example, if Johnny was exposed to COVID at the game on Saturday, he can get a PCR test as of Thursday. If the PCR test is negative, Johnny can return to the game after 10 days of quarantine (versus 14 days). 

If one child was exposed, do my other kids have to stay home too? No. Only the person(s) directly exposed need to quarantine. Other family members are considered a secondary exposure and do not have to quarantine (unless the person originally exposed ends up testing positive. Then a quarantine would be in place for siblings, too.)

Finalize Your Playbook

Encourage your organization to have solid COVID policies in place. Let parents know what they can expect of you, the organization, and what you expect of them. Have open communication about cases and work to protect one another. 

Testing 7 days/week at Innovative

Our Lincoln Park clinic is open seven days a week for COVID testing. Make an appointment online or walk-up for your COVID test. We also offer COVID testing in Downers Grove.

COVID-19 Cases on the Rise in Lincoln Park

We have seen an alarming rise in positive COVID-19 cases in the last month. On March 1, just 2.3% of the rapid COVID-19 tests administered at Innovative Express Care were positive for COVID-19. On March 31, it was 9.4%, and we are holding pretty steady thus far in April (average 8.6% positive). This trajectory mirrors what city officials are saying, noting Lincoln Park is one of the neighborhoods seeing a sharp increase in virus activity.

I am very concerned by these numbers. After a full year of COVID-19 restrictions, the city has begun to reemerge, and nobody wants to see a resurgence of virus activity. Still, as we venture out to enjoy the weather, gather with friends, or travel for spring break, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is still active in our communities. 

Young Adult Cases on the Rise

The majority of positive cases are in younger adults. There are many reasons for this, ranging from lifestyle or career, to the inability to be vaccinated yet. My hope is that unvaccinated people who remain at risk of COVID-19 understand the severity of this virus. It’s critical that we get this under control, so until vaccination efforts can be fully rolled out, we must remain vigilant. 

Don’t let your guard down

Please continue to wear masks and social distance. If you have not been vaccinated and are traveling from an orange state, please get tested upon return to Chicago. Pay attention to symptoms, always assess your risk, and take responsibility for your actions so we can keep one another safe.

We all want the old days back. Parties, hugs, concerts and travel will all return. For now however we must continue to protect our health and the health of those around us. 

Stay well.

Getting Vaccines to Those who Need Them Most

We are often asked, how do you distribute your vaccines? Is it all just a race to snag an appointment online faster than others? Unfortunately, there is a race for a subset of our appointments online, however that is far from the only way we do it. Let me explain.

Our first priority is to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations of people. As a center who has conducted upward of 300,000 COVID-19 tests to date, we have been in the trenches for a full year now. We’ve seen the impact COVID has had on our communities, particularly those who are older or living with comorbidities. We also know COVID-19 has hit Black and Latinx communities at disproportionate numbers compared to predominantly white communities. Distributing vaccines to these communities, and senior citizens, is a key part of our distribution strategy.

Weekly Allocation COVID Vaccines

Community Equity & Seniors

In the last month, we’ve established relationships with three community groups dedicated to providing vaccine access to seniors and those in medically underserved communities. Each week, when doses come from the city, we earmark around 10 percent of those vaccines for this effort. We work with My Block, My City, My Hood to ensure vaccine access for majority-Black and Latinx communities hardest hit by COVID-19. Local Vaccine Angels also contribute, dedicating countless hours of time each day to secure vaccine appointments for seniors.

Online booking systems can be challenging for older adults or those who do not have internet access. We recognize this and rely on help from these groups who play an important role in vaccine equity for our community. The local teen who leads a Chicago Vaccine Angel group was recently featured on Good Morning America for his work.

Innovative Primary Care also plays a role in getting vaccines to eligible patients. We communicate with patients 65 and older to encourage them to schedule vaccine appointments, and can accommodate them during well visits at our clinic or at our vaccine center.

Chicago Public School Staff and Teachers

Classrooms across the country have been disrupted by COVID. Just this week, we hit the one-year mark since Chicago Public Schools had to pivot to remote learning due to the virus. Getting our teachers and school staff vaccinated to children can return to the classroom is critical. Innovative Express Care operates four vaccination sites for Chicago Public Schools. Each week when we get our vaccine allotment, 1,500 doses are earmarked for this school vaccination effort. Over the last few weeks, this has been 30 percent of our total vaccine allotment.


Innovative Express Care was one of the first sites to sign on with ZocDoc for vaccine scheduling. This effort was spearheaded by the City of Chicago as a way to offer a one-stop shop for locating vaccine appointments in the city. We open at least 100 appointments on ZocDoc weekly.

Strike Teams

While the vast majority of our vaccines are administered at our clinics, we also have a strike team that heads out into the community to test or vaccinate eligible individuals. This team has traveled to factories, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, area schools and more.

Innovative COVID

Each week, we release as many appointments as possible for individuals to book vaccine appointments directly on our website. Since the amount of doses we get weekly from the City of Chicago varies, this amount does as well. When a shipment of vaccines arrives, we first have to remove the doses allocated for Chicago Public Schools. Next, we have to set aside the quantity needed for second doses. Then, we are able to begin allocating to the various efforts listed above. The remainder is put on our website for open booking.

Traveling from an Orange State? Skip the Quarantine with an At-Home PCR Test

As people resume travel for work and pleasure, many will learn that COVID testing requirements vary from state to state. Depending on where you go, you may even find yourself under quarantine upon return home to Chicago. 

The city of Chicago currently requires anyone traveling from an orange state to a self-quarantine for 10 days, or obtain a negative COVID test up to 72 hours prior to their arrival in Chicago. This means that during your vacation, you’ll need to find a COVID testing site to prove you are negative in order to resume your day-to-day life once back in Chicago. Nobody wants to waste time on vacation at a COVID testing site.

Take a Test Kit with you on Vacation

You can avoid the hassle of finding a testing site by purchasing a $99 take home kit that you can mail to the lab from wherever you are in the US.

I recently took my family on a ski trip to Utah and went through this very experience. While I am fully vaccinated, my family had a choice to make. We could test within 72 hours of our return trip home, or agree to quarantine upon arrival. My kids have spent very little time inside a school building this year, so keeping them home longer was not ideal. Instead, we used the at-home saliva test kit and mailed in our saliva sample while still in Utah so we could have our results in time to avoid a quarantine back home. 

If you are traveling in the near future, keep an eye on restrictions. Some destinations require proof of a negative test prior to travel. Lab times can vary and be unpredictable, so this may leave you looking for a fast option to guarantee your travel plans are not put on hold. Innovative Express Care has two options to accommodate travelers. 

  1. At home test kit
  2. 30-minute PCR results at our affiliate clinic, COVID of Chicago

For more information about 30-minute PCR testing for travel, visit our website

To purchase an at-home testing kit, click here

City of Chicago emergency travel order information can be found here

Will Chicago See Another Surge in COVID Cases?

Illinois and Chicago are reporting record lows in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since the pandemic began one year ago. Does this good news mean we are approaching the end of the pandemic? The obvious answer is we hope so, however Innovative Express Care is seeing an upward trend of cases in our own patient data.

In just two weeks, our clinic in Lincoln Park went from a 2.6% positivity rate to a 6% positivity rate. This means there are more than twice as many positive cases this week as there were two weeks ago. While still low by comparison to the peak points during the pandemic, this upward trend is making us take notice. Here’s a look at the data:

Will the uptick continue?

There is a lot to learn from data. If you look at the trajectory of COVID since March of 2020 until now, you’ll see there are peaks and valleys. A peak during the March/April 2021 timeframe was predicted. Many experts say the next two months are a critical time period that will determine if the United States experiences another widespread surge in cases. Others comment on how vaccination rates must continue improving in order to prevent variants from fueling COVID-19. 

I agree. We must hold steady, continue wearing masks and speed up vaccination efforts in order to maintain control of the virus spread. 

When can I get vaccinated? 

Innovative Express Care is currently vaccinating individuals in the 1a, 1b and 1b+ (under 65 but with qualifying medical conditions). We have administered over 28,000 vaccines in the last eight weeks. We will ramp up our efforts as soon as we can get our hands on more vaccine doses. We have the staff and space to help and we are eager to make a greater impact. 

When will things return to normal?

Truthfully, we won’t see the “normal” we once had for quite some time. COVID-19 has changed our lives forever. Expect to see mask requirements for many months. Many employers will continue to embrace work from home situations or hoteling in the office to limit the number of employees in one space at a time (and save on real estate). COVID-19 testing will continue and vaccines may become something we have to get annually like the flu shot. That said, things will improve. They already have to a large degree. We simply need to stay the course for a bit longer and adapt to the changes COVID has brought. As more Americans get vaccinated, we will see a sharp decline in cases. 

What if I’m not vaccinated and have symptoms or was exposed?

Please get tested if you feel ill. Also, get tested if you have been exposed. It is still important to quarantine yourself if you have COVID-19. 


Innovative Express Care Helps Seniors Get Vaccinated

Many people have compared searching for a COVID vaccine appointment to the Hunger Games, or scoring front row concert tickets. Unfortunately, this does feel true. A global pandemic that impacts everyone creates more phone inquiries than call centers can handle. What happens? Scheduling moves online, which makes securing an appointment difficult for senior citizens and patients who do not have access to technology. Countless community groups and individuals have stepped up to help seniors get vaccinated. Innovative Express Care is proud to partner with two of the groups making a huge impact in Chicago. 

Chicago Vaccine Hunters

This week, we released over 100 appointments to the individuals leading the Chicago Vaccine Hunters Facebook group. This volunteer run group pairs Vaccine Angels with eligible individuals who are struggling to secure an appointment, mostly

 senior citizens. They also serve as a forum for individuals to ask questions, share appointment information and other tips. Innovative will allocate doses to them weekly so we can vaccinate Chicago’s most vulnerable populations. 

My Block, My Hood, My City

Innovative Express Care is also teaming up with My Block, My Hood, My City to reach Chicago seniors in underserved communities. An additional 100+ appointments per week will be allocated to the group, allowing their volunteers to secure appoin

tments for older individuals in areas most impacted by COVID-19. Innovative Express Care was the first clinic to sign on to help My Block, My Hoo

d, My City launch their initiative.

Scheduling a Vaccine

To date, we have administered over 11,000 COVID vaccines. We have the capacity to do many more and will increase our appointment slots as soon as we have the doses needed to do so. If you are eligible for a vaccine and want to make an appointment, keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for appointment availability. 

We sincerely hope to help more Chicagoans get vaccinated very soon. We have been here since the start of the pandemic for testing, and we will be here until it is over for vaccinations.