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Pfizer Vaccine Boosters Approved for Additional High-Risk Individuals

Pfizer Vaccine BoostersThere has been a lot of debate about COVID-19 booster vaccines, including whether they are necessary, at what point in time, and for whom they are most appropriate. On Friday, the FDA Advisory Committee voted on the use of Pfizer vaccine boosters. Since there is a lot of misinformation out there, I will summarize their decision for you here. 

Pfizer Booster Vaccine Decision

The committee reviewed extensive data, including the current situation in the United States (COVID cases, hospitalization, vaccinations and vaccine effectiveness), and scientific studies before voting. There was a lot of discussion and debate. Two votes were held to decide who should receive a Pfizer booster vaccine. The first vote was to determine if boosters should be given to all individuals. This did not pass and was voted down.  The second vote was to determine who specifically should receive a Pfizer booster vaccine. The criteria that passed the vote (unanimously) was to give a Pfizer booster vaccine to the following individuals:

People who previously received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with their second dose being at least 6 months ago, AND who…

  • Are age 65+
  • Are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 (clarification yet to come on who this may include)
  • Are at high risk for occupational exposure to COVID-19 (this includes healthcare workers and others to be determined)
Can I Go Get My Booster Vaccine? 

Even if you qualify for a booster vaccine based on the criteria passed during the vote, this does not mean that you can or should go out and get a booster immediately. There are still regulatory steps that must take place, including an official authorization being made (FDA EUA authorization). The CDC advisory committee must also meet to discuss the guidance and make their own recommendations on the matter. This is where we may see additional fine-tuning, such as what is considered to put someone at risk for severe COVID-19, and what occupations beyond healthcare workers should be included. If you are interested in really digging into this topic, you can find the presentation materials here

Vaccinations Available in Downers Grove

Innovative Care is currently offering vaccine doses 1 and 2 of both the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines at our Downers Grove clinic. We are also offering booster vaccines for certain immunocompromised individuals per the August FDA EUA Authorization. We are not yet offering Pfizer boosters to the extended population (voted on September 18, 2021 for over age 65, healthcare workers), but we will expand our criteria to see those patients as soon as the respective FDA Emergency Use Authorization is in place. Vaccine appointments can be made online

Telemedicine is Here to Stay at Innovative Care

Telemedicine Covered by Insurance?

Consumers have come to enjoy conveniences that started during the COVID pandemic. With curbside retail pick-ups, grocery delivery and virtual appointments with your doctor, you hardly have to leave home anymore! The COVID pandemic forced many businesses into a consumer-centric mindset designed to make convenience (and the ability to stay home) king. In healthcare, this was rare pre-pandemic. But not at Innovative Care! We have offered telemedicine since we opened our doors in 2015, as it is part of our promise to make quality care more convenient. When the pandemic hit, we simply utilized the system we already had in place to see even more patients virtually. 

Is telemedicine here to stay?

It is at Innovative Care! In fact, we are continuing to ramp up our telemedicine services. We offer virtual visits as well as in-person visits at our urgent care, primary care and behavioral health practices. We also utilize virtual visits in other programs, such as our ADHD management and Innovative Weight Management programs. Patients want convenience, and with the technology readily available to us, there is no reason not to offer it. 

The question remains as to whether or not other clinics will do the same. This recent article in the Washington Post suggests that while patients want telemedicine to continue, many clinics will reduce or eliminate virtual appointments in the coming months due to insurer policies. 

Does insurance cover telemedicine at Innovative?

Yes! Insurance may be used for visits with our urgent care and primary care teams, as well as for ADHD evaluations, and visits that are part of our weight management program

Committed to Convenient Care

Innovative Care was founded with the promise to provide quality care that is also convenient and efficient. We understand that our patients are busy. They do not have time for unnecessary visits, or long hold times trying to make an appointment. We utilize technology to offer virtual appointments and easy, online scheduling.

Five Ways to Help Your Community Through COVID

Prevent serious illness if you do get COVID

Being vaccinated does not mean you are bulletproof to COVID. It does however significantly lower your risk of serious illness and complications from the virus. This means you are unlikely to require hospitalization for your symptoms. 

If you do get sick, getting a monoclonal antibody infusion is an additional step you can take to ensure you do not become seriously ill. This FDA EUA approved treatment is the only known treatment for COVID. It works by infusing antibodies into your body to fight the virus. Monoclonal antibodies are administered via an IV during a short infusion performed at our clinic (about 20-30 minutes). You’ll then be monitored for an hour before heading home to recover and rest. Innovative Care began offering monoclonal antibody treatment this week. Insurance covers the cost. Uninsured patients will be covered by the CARES Act. There is no cost to patients. 

It is critical that we prevent hospitalizations from COVID so our hospital system is not overburdened and unable to care for all patients. Treating COVID symptoms with monoclonal antibodies within the first 10 days may help. 

Continue to be COVID cautious

Indoor mask mandates are back in Illinois as of 8/26/2021 when the Governor announced further mitigation strategies. Please take this seriously. Healthcare workers have been wearing masks for decades. This is not a new strategy to prevent illness. Do your part, distance, wear masks and don’t give up. 

Get vaccinated

The number one way you can help your community is by getting vaccinated. Per the Governor’s press conference today, 96 percent of hospitalizations due to COVID are in unvaccinated individuals.Our Downers Grove clinic offers COVID vaccines seven days a week. Appointments can easily be scheduled online

Thank a healthcare worker

It’s been 18 months since this pandemic started. Healthcare workers who were hopeful in the spring as virus spread and hospitalizations decreased, are once again exhausted and fatigued. Take a moment to recognize someone you know on the front lines. A simple thank you can go a long way as they continue their mission to beat COVID. 

Support local businesses

Every time virus activity spikes, local businesses lose customers. Whether it be from capacity restrictions, people staying home, or staff illness, it has a huge impact on their ability to succeed. Continue to shop local whenever possible and treat yourself to a carryout meal from your favorite neighborhood spot to help them continue to thrive during this unprecedented time. 

We can do this together. Stay well, Chicago.

Innovative Care to Offer Monoclonal Antibody Treatment to COVID Positive Patients

Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

Regen-COV infusion may lessen severity of virus and reduce the risk of complications for high-risk patients

COVID-19 can be serious, even life-threatening. If you test positive for COVID-19, and have symptoms, seeking monoclonal antibody treatment within the first 10 days may help you fight the virus and avoid serious complications and even death. Monoclonal antibody treatment is intended for people who are at a high risk of serious illness. Innovative Care will begin offering monoclonal antibody treatment to patients. 

Monoclonal antibodies are produced in a laboratory. They serve as substitute antibodies that help our immune systems mimic the defense of natural COVID-19 antibodies. Innovative Care uses the monoclonal antibody Regen-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab, administered together, made by Regeneron) to treat COVID positive patients. This treatment received FDA EUA approval in November, yet it is not widely available. Innovative Care is committed to fighting COVID and proud to offer a treatment for those who are fighting the virus. More information on Regen-COV can be found here. Insurance is accepted for this treatment. 

“We have been here to test and treat patients since the start of the pandemic. This is a natural progression for us to continue serving our community with COVID testing and care,” said Rahul Khare, MD, CEO and founder of Innovative Care. “Monoclonal antibodies attach to the spike protein and may aid your immune system as it works to fight the virus.”

Innovative Care will treat patients who qualify at their dedicated COVID clinic. Each visit begins with a provider consultation. If the patient opts to receive treatment, Regen-COV will be administered during the same appointment. The total infusion time is 20 minutes. Patients may also choose to forgo treatment. More information about what to expect can be found online here.  

Insurance Accepted

Innovative COVID accepts most major insurance plans, and 99 percent of people who get this treatment will not get a bill or pay for monoclonal antibody treatment. If the bill is not covered by insurance, there are funds to get this covered. By this mechanism, patients will not pay anything out of pocket for this treatment. If you do not have any medical insurance, your treatment will be covered under the federal CARES Act. 

More Information

Innovative Care has operated a COVID testing site for nearly 18 months. They are a leader in COVID testing and were among the first in Chicago to offer COVID antibody testing. Innovative Care also offers COVID vaccines at their Downers Grove clinic. For more information, visit Innovative Care online

COVID Booster Vaccines Available in Downers Grove

Innovative Care is now offering COVID booster vaccines for eligible individuals in our Downers Grove clinic. We currently have both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available. Booster vaccines are for immunocompromised individuals per the recent FDA approval. Patients seeking a booster vaccine should bring their original vaccination card showing that dose 1 and dose 2 have been administered. Per the recent FDA Emergency Use Authorization, mixing of mRNA vaccines is only permitted for the third shot if the original vaccine is not available. 

Booster Vaccine Eligibility

Booster vaccine eligibility is on your honor, as per the authorization, medical records or a prescription from your physician are not needed. Patients with moderate to severe immune compromise due to a medical condition, or receipt of immunosuppressive medications or treatments, are eligible for booster vaccinations at this time. This includes the following: 

  • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.

The CDC announced that beginning this fall, everyone will be eligible for a COVID booster vaccine eight months after they received their second dose of the vaccine. 

Free Vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge, as it is supplied by the United States Government. Your insurance will be billed for the injection only. If you have no medical insurance, you will be covered under the federal CARES Act. No patient – whether insured or not insured – will be billed for any charges. The vaccine is free for patients.

Online Scheduling 

If you are eligible for a COVID-19 booster vaccine, you can schedule an appointment online here. Note, COVID-19 vaccines are only available at our Downers Grove clinic location.

Innovative Care Simplifies ADHD Management for Patients

ADHD Management

We think managing your ADHD should be fast, easy, convenient, and dignified. If you are tired of trekking to the doctor monthly just to get a prescription refill, we can help. Innovative Care recently launched Innovative ADHD, a service designed to make managing ADHD more convenient for patients. Our providers will see you virtually for medication refills, which means you only need to physically come to the clinic twice a year. Keep reading if you are ready to save time and simplify your ADHD management. 

Already diagnosed with ADHD?

If you have already been diagnosed with ADHD and want to benefit from virtual appointments and a far more convenient management program, visit us online. You can have better ADHD care in three simple steps. 

Step 1: Complete online form

Step 2: Schedule an in-person visit

Step 3: Monthly telemedicine management

Not yet diagnosed but believe you have ADHD? 

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects between 3-5 percent of the adult population. Symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity (but not always), and impulsive behavior can make everyday life a challenge. If you are struggling to stay focused and are feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities, our therapy team can help

Step 1: Complete the online form

Step 2: Virtual evaluation

Step 3: Primary care visit

Step 4: Telemedicine management 

We Accept Insurance

Innovative Care is a medical group in Chicago. We have brick and mortar clinics, and we also offer telemedicine. Our goal is to make quality healthcare more convenient and efficient for our patients. We accept most insurance plans for ADHD evaluations and management. A list of accepted insurance plans can be found here

ADHD Evolved

Our tagline is Healthcare Evolved. Well, Innovative ADHD makes ADHD management evolved, too. Patients benefit from a real clinic, with real providers (unlike those online only pharmacies) managing their care. With only two in-person visits a year, it’s a no-brainer. We’ll even deliver your medications to your house or work! Get started today.

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

Wegovy

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.

Will our “Normal” Days Last? Dr. Khare weighs in on new COVID strains and what to expect moving forward

No restrictions. None. Normal. Well, almost normal. Whatever you want to call where we are right now, it’s wonderful. Chicago is out and about, smiling and socializing. We even have full capacity Cubs games again. We’ve come a long way since the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on our lives. But is it over? I asked Dr. Khare to offer his perspective on what’s next. Will we continue to see small spikes? Is the new strain going to threaten to shut things down again? Here’s what he had to say. 

Q: Should we be worried about new strains of COVID-19?

A: 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. India, as we’ve seen on the news, has suffered tremendous loss. Thousands of people got sick. This strain of COVID-19 is already in the United States. Whether it creates another round of illness is the real question, but here’s the data: If you have been vaccinated, this strain will not affect you. The only issue is for those who have not been vaccinated. There is a significant amount of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) that is pushed in the media (obviously, they need to get clicks and reads), but right now, in my medical opinion, this strain will not cause an increase in COVID-19 cases in those who are vaccinated.

Q: Will COVID-19 ever be gone from our lives? 

A: Probably not. However, it will likely become less problematic and we will learn to live with it. Vaccines, coupled with people having antibodies from previous infection, will limit new strains from spreading. When COVID-19 first entered the United States, we had no protection. It spread like wildfire and caused serious illness. Now, even if new COVID-19 strains continue to crop up, we have some level of protection. We learn more about the virus every day, which allows us to create effective vaccines and to be proactive in preventing its spread.

Q: Will additional vaccines be required? 

A: Much like flu viruses, COVID-19 viruses can mutate and change. For this reason it is entirely possible that we will one day have annual vaccines for COVID-19 variants. Scientists are continuing to study how well the existing vaccines protect against the variants. They are also astudying how long the vaccines will last and protect us. I suspect booster vaccines will be needed down the road, probably starting in October. You will probably need to get a booster from the same manufacturer as your original vaccine. 

Q: Do we still need to be tested for COVID-19 every time we get symptoms? 

A: While COVID-19 virus numbers are low currently, it’s still best to be tested if you have cold-like symptoms, a cough, fever or shortness of breath. Innovative Express Care continues to offer COVID-19 testing at our 1111 W. Diversey Parkway location. Testing and early identification of the virus allows you to quarantine and prevent spreading the illness to others. The days of dismissing symptoms and going to work sick or not are likely over. COVID-19 devastated many businesses as employee outbreaks occurred. For this reason, many will continue to require COVID tests and take a more proactive approach to employee health.

More Businesses Invest in Employee Health

Innovative Care for Business

The COVID pandemic put a tremendous strain on businesses. Many companies were unprepared for remote work and unsure how to implement safety protocols in the workplace. As we move forward from the pandemic and return to the office, Innovative Care is helping companies limit further disruptions. Innovative Care for Business grew from an employee testing program launched last summer, to a full concierge health service for companies.

Small Investment, Big Reward

Companies who take a proactive approach to employee health will experience fewer disruptions in the workplace due to illness. We are here to help companies develop policies to protect their workforce, as well as to offer immediate access to care when it’s needed. A full list of the services offered through Innovative Care for Business is below. 

  • Priority urgent care appointments (sick visits, injuries, medication refills, X-ray services)
  • Telemedicine appointments 7 days/week
  • Annual flu shots given at your workplace 
  • Annual biometric screening at your workplace (cholesterol, A1C, hemoglobin)
  • COVID-19 testing with results within 36 hours
  • Medical directorship to guide you
  • Patient navigator at your side
  • Access to Innovative Therapy, our integrated behavioral health services
  • Discount at Innovative MedSpa (10%)

Medical Directorship

Wouldn’t it be nice to say, “I got a guy” for all your employee health questions? That’s exactly what you get with Innovative Care for Business. We will help you modernize guidelines for symptomatic and sick employees. We will also keep an eye on virus activity and alert you if it begins to spike again, granting time for you to make adjustments in the workplace. Having Innovative by your side is like having a doctor down the hall to help determine what is in the best interest of the company and your employees. Nobody expected the COVID-19 pandemic. But you can be prepared for anything that comes your way in the future. Add Innovative Care to your team and keep your workforce healthy. 

For more information about Innovative Care for Business, visit us online

Enroll your business.