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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.

COVID-19 Antibody Testing Available at Innovative Express Care

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

 

I’m excited to announce that we now offer COVID-19 antibody testing at Innovative Express Care. This is important, as the simple blood test will determine if you’ve already had the novel coronavirus (perhaps unknowingly), or if you are still at risk of getting sick. Here’s how it works and why it’s important.

COVID-19 launches a response in the body 

The COVID-19 virus causes our immune system to react and develop antibodies to fight the virus. When IgG antibodies are found in the blood, we can deduct that the individual has had COVID-19. The antibody test is fast and done right here in our office. We’ll send the blood sample to our lab and call you with results in 2-5 days. 

Why is antibody testing important? 

Antibody testing has many benefits. Patients who test positive for the antibodies will have peace of mind in knowing they are not likely to get sick, as the chance of getting COVID-19 a second time is very low. 

Individuals who are elderly or have underlying health conditions will benefit from knowing if they have antibodies so they can make informed decisions about how much socialization to resume. The COVID-19 antibody test will also provide important data on the scale of coronavirus infections in our community. 

Lastly, antibody testing will identify who is a potential candidate for plasma donation. Plasma is being explored as a possible treatment option for those critically ill with COVID-19. 

How do I get an antibody test?

Innovative Express Care offers antibody testing daily. You can schedule an appointment online. Insurance is accepted for the visit and test. Self-pay is also an option. 

Patients arriving for antibody tests will be evaluated at our outdoor medical tent prior to testing. If you are symptomatic or have been symptomatic in the last 14 days, we will also do a COVID-19 swab to check for the active virus. If you have not had any symptoms in 14 days, we will do only the antibody testing. 

This is exciting news and an important step in fighting COVID-19 in our community. Please share with family and friends and encourage them to get tested. Identifying who is at risk versus who has had the virus will lend important information to help us bend the curve.

Health Pitfalls of Sheltering at Home

Residual health effects of COVID-19 and tips for counteracting them

Staying home for a couple of months may have sounded like a mental health dream a while back, but too much time at home may have an adverse effect on your health. Our team flagged four of the most common health pitfalls associated with our stay-at-home orders that have nothing to do with catching the virus itself. Have you fallen into any of these traps? If so, read on for advice on how to keep your health a priority. 

Poor Nutrition

Most people are going to the store less often, ordering food to support their local restaurants and turning to comfort food to get them through tough days. Sound familiar? It’s harder to focus on well-rounded meals when you are working your way through the pantry rather than visiting your local grocer or farmer’s market on a regular basis. Still, don’t give up on good nutrition. Stock up on frozen fruit and vegetables so you can have a nutrient-packed smoothie for breakfast or lunch. It’s okay to enjoy comfort foods too, but make portion control a priority so you don’t binge eat while you binge watch your favorite shows. 

Lack of Exercise

Gyms are closed and the weather can make or break your motivation to get outdoors, but activity is key to mental and physical health. Use home equipment or make weights out of common household items like milk jugs for strength training. Have a two or three story home? Hit the stairs! There are also countless workout classes available online these days. Whether you go all out, or simply work a daily walk into your to do list, stay active.

Insomnia

The uncertainty in our world is causing more people to experience insomnia. Lack of sleep can lead to health issues, so it’s important to make rest a priority and find ways to improve sleep if you are struggling. Doctors recommend setting a bedtime and sticking with it (even if you could binge Netflix all night thanks to your lack of morning commute). Room darkening curtains, limiting caffeine and relaxation tactics such as meditation or essential oils may also help. 

Anxiety/Depression 

Anxiety and depression is on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients who have struggled with mental health issues previously are at risk of worsening symptoms, particularly if they veer from their normal routine and treatment plan. Many people who have never experienced anxiety before are suddenly struggling, too. Factors such as virus risk, job insecurity, financial concerns, and even homeschooling while also working from home can weigh heavily on one’s mind. Anxiety is common. It’s normal. Most people are experiencing some level of anxiety right now, so never feel ashamed. Talk with friends and family members. Journal about your feelings. Take time each day for yourself. If you are unable to find relief, seek a professional who can help. You are not alone and this is a difficult time for all.

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.

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 Innovativecovid.com.

WGN Radio: Dr. Khare Discusses COVID-19 and When to go to the Doctor

COVID-19: When should I go to the doctor?

Dr. Khare joined Justin Kaufmann on WGN Radio last night to discuss COVID-19 and answer the common question – when should I go to the doctor?

If you are sick, and experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor. Innovative Express Care is conducting screenings via Telemedicine to review symptoms, discuss medical history and determine if a patient needs testing for COVID-19, flu or something else (strep, mono, etc.). Telemedicine is an important step in limiting exposures to the virus, as it allows:

  • Doctors to collect important information (symptoms, medical history, patient information, possible exposures) before a patient is seen in the office (if that’s even necessary). This limits the amount of time they are in the clinic significantly, allowing most patients to be in and out in five minutes.
  • Medical clinic staff to appropriately prepare for the patient’s visit. They can be masked upon arrival and taken directly to a room so they are not in the waiting area with other patients.

Listen to Dr. Khare’s full interview here.

 

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.