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Innovative Express Care Helps Chicago Businesses Get Back to Work

Occupational Health COVID-19

It’s official. Illinois has flattened the curve and we are heading into phase III. This is exciting news for the restaurants, retail stores and other businesses who have been sidelined due to the pandemic. How we take this next step is critical. Innovative Express Care can help. Our team offers cost-effective virus testing, antibody testing and counsel on best practices for businesses to help them ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers. We take your employee’s insurance and also treat uninsured and undocumented patients for free. We’ll even come to you!

Businesses must understand that operating in the COVID-19 environment requires preventive measures and careful planning. This virus isn’t going anywhere, so we need to establish firm protocols and make them commonplace to prevent future outbreaks. COVID-19 swab testing, for the active virus, before or on the first day back at work will help you get off to a good start. Monitoring the health of your workforce is also important, as is having a plan in place for what you’ll do if someone does become ill. 

Innovative Express Care accepts insurance for COVID-19 testing, making this service a sure win for employers. A reasonable fee applies for ongoing medical counsel, additional testing or medical care for ill employees. We are here to help businesses both large and small, and across all industries, protect their employees and customers.

Here are a few steps to get you started:

Initial Baseline Testing

  • It’s extremely important to give your employees confidence that you are doing everything you can to keep them safe. Your employees understand that there’s a risk to returning to work. But have you done everything you can to protect them? The first thing to do is COVID-19 swab testing for all employees. The last thing you want is to re-open and then immediately have an outbreak due to one person coming back to work with the virus. It closed down the Ford plant recently. While testing every employee prior to coming back to work takes a bit of time and money, it shows your employees that you are serious about their health, and it helps to ensure a smooth re-opening.

Temperature Screening Before and After Work

  • Until there are no cases in Illinois, we must take measures to protect employees and prevent outbreaks. Daily temperature checks combined with asking employees if they have felt feverish, have experienced body aches, or have a cough is important to make sure your employees do not spread this virus.

Strict Isolation for Symptomatic Employees

  • You must have a strict policy in place when employees present with a fever. Prepare protocols on how you will get employees tested and evaluated by a physician quickly, as well as procedures for coming back to work. We offer same-day COVID-19 testing in our parking lot (while the patient remains in their car). We can then follow up with them via a virtual telemedicine visit to assess their symptoms and determine if they are cleared to get back to work. We will provide a note if they are approved to return to work.

Random Testing

  • For 2 weeks, there should be random testing on your high risk employees (those working in close contact with others). COVID-19 tests are generally covered by insurance, and Innovative Express Care can help you establish these protocols.

Although we will come to you, ongoing care can be done quickly and cost-effectively with telemedicine. We have used telemedicine to provide convenient care since I opened the clinic five years ago. When COVID-19 struck, we increased our telemedicine capacity by 1,000 percent and used virtual appointments to evaluate patients before they came on-site for testing. Telemedicine access is now available to employers who want to ensure their employees have quick access to care if someone becomes ill.

For more information about occupational health services at Innovative Express Care, please visit us online and complete our online form

Now What? Dr. Khare Weighs in on Phase III

Phase III COVID-19 Illinois

Great job, Chicago. You stayed home to the extent possible and together, we have flattened the curve. As Illinois comes down from its COVID-19 peak, there are many things to keep in mind. We have patients ask us daily — what’s next? Can we safely see neighbors or loved ones again? The answer is a bit complex, and you’ll need to make personal choices on what is best for you and your family as we move forward. 

Safer at Home

While the stay-at-home order will soon lift, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is not gone. We have successfully lowered the number of cases in our area, but you are still in fact safer at home. Does this mean you can’t go anywhere or see anyone? No, but your decisions should be based on your individual risk and the health of those around you. 

The elderly, as well as people living with chronic health conditions, have a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19. Conditions such as asthma, COPD, heart disease and autoimmune diseases are among these illnesses. Both young and old people fall into this group for whom the virus can be very serious, even deadly. 

Those who are in the high risk group should consider continuing to limit their social activities and time in public. This means avoiding large groups, and relying on others to run errands if possible. Those who are a low risk need to support these individuals and respect that their circumstances are not the same. 

Workplace Safety

As I mentioned, COVID-19 is not gone. That’s why it is important that employers be vigilant about establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. COVID-19 testing when work resumes will play an important role. Employee temperature checks and personal protective equipment (masks, gloves) will be critical in many settings. Innovative Express Care offers occupational health services to help businesses get back to work safely. We travel to the business for testing, offer counsel on best practices and are here to provide care in the event someone does get ill. 

Accept a New Normal

The coming months will not be what anyone wanted. Summer in Chicago will look different and we will miss the events that make our city special. Still, we must realize that without change we are at risk of going back in time in this pandemic. We must do our part to accept the changes so we can further reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in our community. 

Stay Home When You Are Sick

Now more than ever, it’s important to stay home when you are feeling sick. Americans have been trained to work through illness and in the past, a stuffy nose, headache, even a mild fever may not stop us. This needs to change. In order to prevent COVID-19 from spiking again in our community, we need to listen to our body, stay home and stay isolated when we are ill. If you do get sick, please get tested. When we identify COVID-19, we can properly isolate and take precautions to prevent it from spreading. Innovative Express Care offers COVID-19 virus swab testing daily in our outdoor medical tent. Walk-ins are accepted, or you may make an appointment online. We take insurance and accept uninsured patients for COVID-19 testing and care under the CARES Act. 

We also offer the COVID-19 antibody test, which may determine if you’ve previously had the virus. An appointment is required for the antibody test, as it requires a blood draw in our clinic. 

Again, great job Chicago. Please continue to be mindful of COVID-19 as we resume activities so we can protect those at risk and avoid a future spike in cases.

 

Free COVID-19 Virus and Antibody Testing for Uninsured Patients

Free COVID-19 Virus and Antibody Testing

I am excited to announce that we are now offering free COVID-19 virus and antibody tests to uninsured patients. This is possible under the federal CARES Act. I believe that everyone should have access to COVID-19 testing and care. This is a relentless virus, especially for those who have underlying medical conditions. It is affecting Black and Hispanic communities at an alarming rate and is spreading at a higher rate in low income communities. Symptoms cannot be ignored. 

Since the pandemic started, we have drastically increased our hours to accommodate as many patients as possible. We have performed more than 20,000 COVID-19 virus and antibody tests to date, and see upward of 500 patients every day. Our team will not stop until this virus is under control. 

How to get tested

An appointment is not required for COVID-19 virus swab testing. Patients who wish to have the swab test can simply check-in at the outdoor medical testing tent. Social distancing is in place and everyone is given a mask to limit possible exposure to the virus. 

Antibody testing does require an appointment, as a blood draw is needed and patients are seen in the clinic for this test. COVID-19 antibody test appointments can be scheduled online at www.innovativecorona.com

The federal CARES Act only applies to those who are uninsured. This means that if you have insurance, and we accept your plan, you have to use your insurance. If you are insured, but we do not accept your plan, you can choose to pay a self-pay fee of $250 for the evaluation and test or find a clinic that takes your insurance. 

COVID-19 antibody tests (blood draw) typically begin with a telemedicine consultation. The virtual visit minimizes the amount of time patients are on-site at the clinic. Patients come in for COVID-19 testing on the same day or the next day after their virtual visit. 

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, visit us online at www.innovativecorona.com

Stay well Chicago. 

How Accurate is the Antibody Test? That Depends on Where You Go

COVID-19 Antibody Testing Accuracy

 

The COVID-19 antibody test allows those who had symptoms, yet were never tested for the virus, to determine if it was likely that they had COVID-19. We believe it’s rare for someone to become ill from COVID-19 a second time, so having the antibodies may offer a level of immunity to the virus. Innovative Express Care was among the first clinics in Chicago to offer COVID-19 antibody testing. We’ve seen thousands of patients to date, and almost everyone has the same question when they get their results — how accurate is the test? That answer largely depends on where you go and what test is being used. Innovative Express Care uses the test believed to be the most accurate on the market, the SARS-COV-2 test from Abbott. 

About the SARS-COV-2 Test

The SARS-COV-2 test requires a blood draw that looks for IgG antibodies. When antibodies are present, we are able to deduct that you may have already encountered the COVID-19 virus and therefore have some level of protection against the virus. The test is far more accurate than others on the market at this time, with 100 percent accuracy 17 days or more after virus symptoms began according to Abbott. Our tests are sent to Quest Diagnostics and results are available in 3-5 days. More information, including frequently asked questions and insurance codes can be found on our website

Safe, fast and efficient COVID-19 antibody testing

Antibody test appointments begin with a physician evaluation via telemedicine. During this virtual chat, we’ll make sure you qualify for the test (no symptoms for at least 14 days) and collect the necessary patient and insurance information. Then, either same-day or next day, you will come on-site for your blood test. There is no additional cost for the telemedicine portion of your appointment. This simply streamlines the process and helps you get in/out quickly on the day of your on-site visit. Book now.

Same-Day or Next-Day Appointments Available

We have increased our hours to meet the demand for COVID-19 antibody testing. Appointments are typically available same-day, or the next day and can be scheduled online. The antibody test is available to anyone who has not experienced symptoms of COVID-19 in at least 14 days and insurance is accepted. Appointments are required for this test.

Dr. Khare: Four Things You Can Do to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

prevent the spread of covid-19

 

By now, we all know that staying home is the single most important step you can take to limit the spread of COVID-19. Beyond that, what else should you be doing? Here are the four most important things I want people to do and know. 

Understand that not having symptoms doesn’t mean you are healthy

You can feel perfectly well, yet be carrying the COVID-19 virus. Scientists studying this novel coronavirus have discovered that many people only get minor symptoms, which may be unknowingly attributed to the common cold or even seasonal allergies. Meanwhile, that person can be spreading COVID-19. 

In addition, it takes 5-7 days for COVID-19 symptoms to appear after you are infected by the virus. This means that you are shedding the virus every place you go, and every person you come in contact with is now at risk. 

Please think about others. Skip unnecessary trips out in public, resist the temptation to mingle with neighbors and hold off on all playdates with other kids. This includes allowing your kids to play at the park. It’s a hard time for all, but these measures must be taken in order to put an end to COVID-19. 

Go out as little as possible

As a result of the above, please go out as little as possible. You may feel well, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t carrying the virus. Each interaction you have puts another person at risk. Ask yourself, do I need to go out or do I want to go out? It’s normal to be stir crazy and crave getting out in public as you used to, but it’s important to stay put in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Get by on the minimum

Most people are in the habit of going to the grocery store at least once a week, usually more. This is not the time to be doing that. Plan to get by with what you have to the extent that is possible. Your meals may be less gourmet, but you will be reducing your risk significantly by limiting your trips to the store. When you do go out, be brief. Don’t browse or shop for anything other than the essentials. 

Wear a mask in public

If everyone wore a mask when in public, we could significantly decrease the spread of COVID-19. N95 masks are not recommended for the general public, as basic fabric masks will do. You can easily turn a bandana, scarf or T-shirt into a mask. Protect others and protect yourself. It will make a difference. 

If you are sick and feel you need a COVID-19 test, visit our website to complete the evaluation form. If you qualify, you will be prompted to schedule an appointment at our outdoor testing tent.

A Look Inside Our Medical Testing Tent

While I never expected to move our urgent care clinic outdoors, I was prepared for this moment. I studied epidemiology and have almost two decades of experience as an emergency medicine physician. I’ve also led medical relief efforts in foreign countries following natural disasters, so I’m no stranger to a medical tent. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck Chicago, I put my experience into action. 

My team at Innovative Express Care quickly ordered supplies and planned for the worst so we could provide the best care to our patients. We are the only urgent care clinic in Chicago testing or COVID-19 right now and we’ve seen hundreds of patients. Many people have asked me how this all works, so I’ll take a moment to explain. 

A Streamlined Process

Innovative Express Care has used telemedicine to provide convenient and efficient care to our patients since we opened our doors. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, we immediately converted that system to COVID-19 screenings. A telemedicine screening is required before a patient comes to the clinic for medical testing. Telemedicine is the safest and most efficient way to limit exposure to the virus. Patient history, symptoms and insurance is taken during the online appointment, which expedites the process on-site. Innovative Express Care follows a three-step process for COVID-19 patients:

  • Step 1:  Screening via a telemedicine appointment with a physician
  • Step 2:  Medical tests (if warranted) at our outdoor medical tent or urgent care clinic (if necessary based on symptoms)
  • Step 3:  Follow-up appointment via telemedicine (if symptoms worsen, or if the COVID-19 test is positive). Patients with COVID-19 continue to have follow-up appointments every three days. 

Innovative Express Care uses a private lab for COVID-19 testing. Clinicians use CDC guidelines and their discretion to determine who should be tested for COVID-19.

Teamwork

Our entire team has played a vital role in executing our COVID-19 plan. In the clinic, we have a medical team doing telemedicine visits, seeing patients for X-ray imaging, taking appointments and restocking supplies. Outside in the tent, we have a team of physicians, medical assistants and nurses who greet patients, take vital signs, administer tests, chart everything and stock supplies. It takes teamwork to effectively run the clinic both indoors and outdoors, while also adhering to the absolute highest standards of safety for both our patients and our staff. 

The Patient Experience

Telemedicine allows patients to consult with a physician from the comfort of their own home. If testing is needed, they are able to wait in their car and a clinician will come to them. These are just a couple of the measures we take to make the patient experience quick and easy, while protecting everyone’s health. Patients who test positive for COVID-19 have follow-up telemedicine visits every three days to make sure they are doing well and that their symptoms are stable or improving. 

You are making a difference

While we have yet to see the virus peak, we are effectively flattening the curve by dramatically changing our lives and staying home. Please continue to do this. It’s hard, lonely and frustrating, but it matters. You are saving lives.

COVID-19 Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

COVID-19 Symptoms

 

My team and I have screened over 500 patients for COVID-19 in the last two weeks. Of those, we tested nearly 200 individuals and are continuing to monitor 27 patients who were positive for the novel coronavirus. You’ve heard the most common symptoms – fever, shortness of breath, cough and respiratory symptoms – but I want to point out that there are other things to watch out for, too. If you are feeling ill, please listen to your body and don’t wait too long to consult with a physician. 

GI Symptoms

A recently published study that looked at a sample of people in China, indicates that GI symptoms may be a sign of the novel coronavirus. While a larger study is needed, doctors in the United States are beginning to report seeing GI symptoms as well. At Innovative Express Care, approximately five percent of our COVID-19 positive patients have had GI symptoms.

Severe malaise, body aches

Many patients report feeling achy and weak throughout their body. This feeling is sometimes mistaken for the flu, so pay attention to respiratory symptoms that also develop and if you are questioning whether or not your symptoms may be COVID-19, consult with your doctor. 

Loss of smell and/or taste

Recently, a group of British doctors reported hearing from experts around the world that loss of senses, specifically taste and smell, may be associated with the novel coronavirus COVID-19. 

While this may not be on the list of official symptoms to watch out for, it is something we have seen in our patient population at Innovative Express Care. It’s important to pay attention to your health. Not every patient will have the classic symptoms and be a textbook case. If you are concerned and have questions, please schedule a consultation with your doctor, particularly if you have underlying health conditions that could make you at a higher risk of developing complications from the virus. 

If you are feeling ill, please stay home. If you are well, stay home. It is critical that we curb the spread of COVID-19. Innovative Express Care is using telemedicine to screen patients for COVID-19. If a test is warranted, we see patients at our outdoor medical testing tent to limit exposure to the virus. Simply pull up and wait in your car. One of our clinicians will come to you. For more information, visit Innovativecorona.com.

Dr. Khare Provides an Honest Account of the status of COVID-19 in the United States

Dr. Rahul Khare, Innovative Express Care

Many people have asked me how to best protect themselves and their family against the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. Here’s the bottom line: COVID-19 is coming the US and to Chicago. It is likely that a significant amount of people will get infected. There are however things you can do to limit your risk.

Fallout from the virus will go beyond the spread of illness in the United States. China supplies the world with many products. As such, global stock markets and financials may be in question. The risk of the virus itself, and the impact it will have on our economy, will be scary for all of us. However, transmission rates will begin to slow, and hopefully subside by the summer.

There are several things to keep in mind regarding the COVID-19 virus:
  • The mortality rate of COVID-19 is still relatively low compared to Swine Flu and SARS.
  • People who are over 75 years of age are more at risk than those who are younger. Kids, for some reason, seem to be protected somehow.
  • The single most important thing you can do, is wash your hands regularly. This means before every meal, after using the restroom, following a trip to the mall or running errands, etc. Frequent hand washing is crucial in preventing the spread of colds, flu and the novel coronavirus that is active in many countries, including in the United States.
  • Keep an eye on travel warnings – The CDC has issued several travel warnings in response to COVID-19 activity in several countries. Stay on top of the latest warning levels, which in many regions is to “avoid non-essential travel” currently.
  • Any time you are traveling abroad, it’s a good idea to consult with a travel medicine physician who can share region-specific health information and advise you on any precautions to take prior, or during your trip.
  • When you are sick, stay home – We all have work and school obligations, however the truth is, you aren’t doing yourself or anyone else any favors when reporting to these places sick. If you have symptoms of illness, especially fever, stay home. Respiratory illnesses such as cold viruses, flu, and the novel coronavirus are all easily spread when an infected individual comes in contact with others.
  • Use the CDC as your guide – Remember, despite your political allegiance, the CDC director is a veteran virologist, Robert Redfield, MD, who has studied HIV and other infectious viruses for over 30 years. We have to trust that the CDC will give us the proper instructions during the time of COVID-19

Innovative Express Care is an urgent care practice open seven days a week for your convenience. Contact us to schedule an appointment or walk-in, as wait times are typically less than 30 minutes.

Did you forget to get your flu shot this year? No problem, it’s not too late and we can help.

Need a new primary care physician? Innovative Primary Care is now accepting new patients.

5 Tips for a Healthy Year Away at College

As an urgent and primary care provider, I see a lot of patients with coughs, colds and season viruses. Our location, being just steps from a college campus, means that a lot of these cases could be prevented with some basic, healthy habits. Following are five simple tips that I hope my own children will need when they head off to school in a few years.  

Sleep (just not through class)

It’s back to school season, which means getting plenty of sleep. It is your best defense against illness. Yes, you can go out and have a good time, but don’t forget to get some rest so your body can restore itself and keep you going. Lack of sleep lowers your resistance, making you more prone to coughs, colds and seasonal flu. Kick your noisy roommate out for a bit and take a nap if you need to.

Choose food that fuels your mind

Pizza and breadsticks at 3am alone will not cut it. Choose foods that fuel your mind. Fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins are essential to keeping your body strong. Bonus, they also help prevent unwanted weight gain that many experience in college. While mom’s home cooking may be miles away, the grocery store is a short walk. Don’t live on pizza delivery alone. Eating healthy will help keep you in school and away from your medicine cabinet.  

Fluids are your friend

Drink plenty of water and other non-carbonated, non-caffeinated beverages each day. Staying hydrated is essential to keeping our body healthy. It also flushes out any toxins you may have consumed the night before. Need an extra boost? Innovative Express Care, located just off the DePaul campus, offers IV fluids for hangovers which will get you back on your feet in no time. 

Get your flu shot

Think you don’t need your flu shot? Think again. The flu likes college living just as much as you do. Your best protection against the flu is to get the vaccine. We have walk-in appointments available daily and will have you in and out in no time.

If you get sick, call us (and your mom)

Did you get sick despite your best attempts to stay healthy? Call us. We offer same-day appointments and even walk-in appointments, which means you can just Uber on over to Innovative Express Care. Oh and call your mom, too. She’ll want to know. She may even make you some chicken soup.  

 

Get Your Flu Shot. Fight the Flu.

While warm weather may still be upon us, flu season is fast approaching. In fact, we’ve already seen our first flu case of the season at Innovative Express Care. Your best defense against influenza is to get your flu vaccine, which will offer you and your family protection all season. Still unsure? Read on to learn more about the importance of flu vaccines.  

How does the flu shot work?

The flu vaccine significantly lowers your risk of catching influenza, and if you do happen to get the flu, it lessens the severity of the symptoms and duration of the virus. The flu shot works by injecting inactive influenza viruses into your body. This allows your body to create antibodies that fight the virus. The viruses targeted in the flu shot are modified each season based on flu predictions, and typically include Inflenza A, H1N1, H3N2, and Influenza B. Learn more about the Influenza viruses here

Why vaccinate for the flu?

We all have a friend that claims the flu shot makes you sick. This is absolutely false. The flu vaccine is your best protection against the flu. It takes about two weeks for your body to build up antibodies, so it’s best to receive your flu shot early in the season. Complications from the flu have the potential to be life-threatening, especially for high-risk individuals, which include infants, children, pregnant women and the elderly, as well as those with underlying health conditions. In the 2018-2019 flu season, there were approximately 550,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths from flu viruses.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Everyone over the age of six months (with the exception of those who are allergic to vaccine ingredients), should receive their flu vaccine. Innovative Express Care has the flu shot available now, and we will be offering flu vaccines all season long. We do accept insurance and self-pay is only $30.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, visit our website or call 773-270-5600.