Your health and safety is our first concern. MidMichigan Health is collaborating with national, state and local agencies to identify and care for patients with COVID-19. Recent updates include:
As a service to the community, MidMichigan Health has published a COVID-19 informational hotline with a reminder of CDC guidelines and recommendations. Staff is also available to help answer community questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The hotline can be reached toll-free at (800) 445-7356 or (989) 794-7600.
The following FAQs, with input by the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, help to answer common questions related to the virus.
What is COVID-19
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a newly identified coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. We are closely monitoring and following guidance from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are in close contact with state and local health authorities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because it is newly identified with much still unknown about it. It also is now widely community spread.
How is COVID-19 spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Specifically, the spread can occur between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. The spread also can occur from contact with infected surfaces or objects.
In addition, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads
What are the most common symptoms of COVID-19?
According the CDC, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of these symptoms:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
What are the prevention measures for COVID-19?
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. If you haven’t already done so, get a flu shot. As with the flu and other viruses, general hygiene precautions can help reduce the risk of getting ill. Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick. Stay home when you are sick. And, disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
What is the treatment of COVID-19?
There is currently no vaccine to treat or prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, include:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Who is at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19?
The exposure risk is higher for those who work in health care, first responders, and those who have prolonged close contact with someone who has COVID-19. In addition, elderly people and those with chronic medical conditions are at increased risk of more severe infection.
What is the best way to protect myself from getting COVID-19?
The best way to prevent the spread of this virus is by practicing social distancing and proper hygiene, such as hand washing and not touching our faces. With these two measures we are all significantly less likely to get the illness because we will be less likely to come into contact with the virus.
Where can I go for testing?
In an effort to reduce illness exposure and support the volume of community members seeking COVID-19 testing and direction, MidMichigan Health is recommending that patients contact their primary care provider or the MidMichigan Virtual Telehub Clinic for screening. Based on CDC and State criteria, providers determine if testing is necessary and then schedule an appointment for individuals to receive the testing the same day at the local Ambulatory Testing Center.
The MidMichigan Virtual Telehub Clinic can be reached at (888) 591-0500, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Individuals do not need to have a MidMichigan Health provider to use the Telehub Clinic.
An Ambulatory Testing Center provides convenient car side testing. During the brief appointment, patients remain in their car while a member of the MidMichigan Health care team comes to them to conduct the tests recommended by the provider. A nasal swab is collected for the COVID-19 testing. Those patients are then sent to their homes to remain in quarantine until their test results are reported to them. These measures are just another example of helping to distance those with possible COVID-19 exposure from the rest of our patient population and our staff and health care providers.
MidMichigan Health Ambulatory Testing Centers are located in:
- Alma: MidMichigan Urgent Care - Gratiot, 321 E. Warwick Drive
- Alpena: Family Medicine - 101 Oxbow, Alpena
- Clare: MidMichigan Urgent Care - Clare, 700 W. 5th Street
- Gladwin: MidMichigan Urgent Care - Gladwin, 1105 E. Cedar Avenue, M-61
- Midland: MidMichigan Urgent Care - Midland, 3009 N. Saginaw Road
- West Branch: MidMichigan Urgent Care - West Branch, 640 Court Street, M-30
What should I do in case of an outbreak?
It is best to keep a 30-day supply of essential medicines and household items on hand at all times. And, if not already done, be sure to get a flu shot.
What if a member of my household comes down with symptoms of COVID-19?
If someone in your home begins to present symptoms of COVID-19, they are encouraged to contact their health care provider right away to assess their symptoms. If they do not have a health care provider, MidMichigan Health encourages you to contact your local urgent care or Emergency Department for next steps. If they are confirmed COVID-19, or a patient under investigation, they should remain in a separate room or portion of the house away from the rest of the household and follow any additional instructions given to them by their health care provider. In addition, household members should immediately begin to monitor their own health and contact their health care provider right away if they begin to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough or shortness of breath. Above all, household members should continue to practice preventative measures including frequent hand washing, disinfecting surfaces often and social distancing. These measures are known to help stop the spread of illness.
How are you going to prevent myself or my loved one from getting COVID-19?
We are highly focused on our patients and their caregiving team. MidMichigan Health, in collaboration with national, state and local agencies, is reviewing and reinforcing processes for identifying and caring for patients with COVID-19 in the event that it is required.
Our Incident Command teams across the health system are meeting regularly to discuss possible scenarios and we are carefully monitoring the news as it evolves. We are following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and working with state and local partners to make sure we are prepared for a possible threat to our community and our state.
Currently, general preparedness measures that have been completed, are in development and are ongoing at MidMichigan Health include:
- Reinforcing patient travel screening and triage questions based on CDC recommendations for Emergency Departments, Ambulatory Care, physician offices and clinics, and inpatient settings.
- Updating our electronic medical record (EMR) system with references/advisories for staff to identify patients who may be at risk for COVID-19 based on their travel history.
- Working with the local health departments re. testing for patients meeting criteria.
- Following CDC guidelines for handling tested specimens.
- Outlining/mapping isolation procedures and areas.
- Sharing information on COVID-19 patient management with appropriate clinical staff.
- Equipping clinical areas with protective clothing and equipment to be used in the event of a suspected COVID-19 case.
- Following comprehensive procedures for disinfecting patient rooms and removing/disposing of linens and cubicle curtains.
- Preparing to communicate with state departments, employees and media in case of highly-suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Providing via the MidMichigan Health website CDC information on COVID-19, visitor policy information, and signage.
What education are you providing your staff about the virus?
The COVID-19 Task Force is disseminating educational materials with ongoing updates to MidMichigan Health staff in a variety of venues, such as:
- Daily safety briefing updates
- MidMichigan Health intranet
- MidMichigan’s COVID-19 Toolkit, CDC materials, Health Department news
- EPIC best practice advisories and travel screening
- MidMichigan Health internet home page
- MidMichigan Health Facebook page
- Attend staff meetings as requested
Does MidMichigan Health have the right equipment to treat a patient with COVID-19?
Yes, MidMichigan Health is prepared in the event of receiving a COVID-19 patient. Contingency planning for a larger outbreak are currently underway.
Can anyone get tested for COVID-19?
As of March 24, 2020, the determination of individuals who can be tested for coronavirus in the State of Michigan has been narrowed down to six criteria. Essentially, there is recognition that there’s a shortage of our collection kits, as well as the sample media — the tubes that we put the swabs into, and the laboratory capacity. The new clinical criteria for testing for COVID-19, to which MidMichigan Health is following, are:
- Hospitalized patients
- Symptomatic healthcare workers
- Patients in long-term care facilities with symptoms
- Patients 65 years of age and older with symptoms
- Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms
- First responders with symptoms
Has MidMichigan Health dealt with outbreaks like this in the past?
We have been preparing for emerging diseases and viruses for many years, such as SARs, small pox, monkey pox, and Ebola, and have policies in place. With each disease and virus we have made necessary adjustments to our policies and procedures based on recommendations from the CDC.
What are your screening tools you are using to check if someone has COVID-19?
For your protection and for the protection of our community, we are asking all patients coming to any MidMichigan Health subsidiary if they have recently traveled outside the United States and/or had contact with someone with recent travel and exposure to COVID-19.
What if a person were to answer yes to the travel screening question?
If a patient answers yes, they would be asked to put on a mask and be taken to the facility specific location for care. The infection prevention manager would meet the care team to decide how to provide the safest care possible while protecting staff and other patients. The patient would be interviewed to learn more about their travel history and who they have been with for tracing and follow-up. In addition, we would begin the process of confirming the diagnosis in coordination with the state and CDC test centers. Confirmatory testing may take 24 hours for the diagnosis. If they present to a location other than the Emergency Department, they would be given a mask and will be directed to the designated Emergency Department.
Where does the patient go while they await their tests results?
Staffing, isolation room availability, patient condition, and many other factors are necessary for the team to make a unified decision in placing the patient.
What occurs if a patient suspected with COVID-19 presents in a physician office?
MidMichigan Health is screening all patients at every encounter. If a patient is suspected with COVID-19 and presents to a physician’s office, the office would complete the initial screening and communicate that to patient placement while having the patient put on a mask. The Infection Prevention team would be notified to clarify and make recommendations with a team for placement and direction on entering the building while minimizing exposure to others.
If I’ve developed symptoms of COVID-19, what should I do?
Please call your doctor’s office first, before visiting an Urgent Care or the Emergency Room if you’ve developed a fever greater than 100.4, a cough and shortness of breath. Your doctor’s office will be able to provide further instruction. People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing).
What are you doing to protect visitors to MidMichigan Health locations?
As cases of the flu continue to be reported and there is a heightened alert to the growing coronavirus outbreak, MidMichigan Health is protecting patients and staff at its Medical Centers by keeping visitor restrictions in place for the remainder of the flu season. Only those visitors who are healthy, without symptoms of illnesses, will be allowed to visit patients at MidMichigan’s Medical Centers in Alpena, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Midland, Mt. Pleasant and West Branch. In addition, upon registration for Medical Center appointments, patients will continue to be screened for recent travel outside of the country.
Is it necessary to postpone or cancel travel arrangements?
The CDC provides recommendations on postponing or canceling travel. These are called travel notices and are based on assessment of the potential health risks involved with traveling to a certain area. A list of destinations with travel notices is available at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
- Warning Level 3: CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel to destinations with level 3 travel notices because of the risk of getting COVID-19.
- Alert Level 2: Because COVID-19 can be more serious in older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, people in these groups should talk to a healthcare provider and consider postponing travel to destinations with level 2 travel notices.
- Watch Level 1: CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to destinations with level 1 travel notices because the risk of COVID-19 is thought to be low. If you travel, take the following routine precautions:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 - 95 percent alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
Have you stopped lab and imaging services?
With a low inpatient volume and continued decrease of COVID-19 cases in our health system and service area, we are now able to resume all lab and imaging tests that have been ordered by your physician. The Labs at the Medical Centers in Alma, Midland and Mt. Pleasant also offer online scheduling so you can minimize your wait time. Visit www.midmichigan.org/locations to search for a lab or imaging location near you and view updated hours of service.
Are you accepting donations or homemade masks?
Our community has been asking how they can help support us in the upcoming weeks. We are accepting donations of unused Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including hand sewn masks. For a list of acceptable items and the process to follow to make donations, please visit www.midmichigan.org/covid/giving. We have also established a COVID-19 Relief Fund and will promoting this on social media as another way our community can help us during this time of crisis.
What does community spread mean?
Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Now that it’s spring, how do you know if it’s allergies or COVID-19?
COVID-19 and allergies can share symptoms like shortness of breath and conjunctivitis. However, there are a couple of indications that are specific to each condition: Itchy eyes and nose imply allergies, while fevers and general aches and pains indicate viral infections. Allergies do not cause fevers. However, those who are unsure whether they are exhibiting signs of allergies or COVID-19 are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider to be screened.
Do you recommend the public wear masks?
The CDC confirmed last week that up to 25 percent of COVID-19 spread is from those showing no symptoms. Wearing a cloth facial covering helps those unaware they are caring the virus from spreading the germs. To keep our communities safe and help slow the spread of COVID-19, MidMichigan Health recently announced to the public in need of in-person medical services to arrive to MidMichigan facilities with cloth face coverings, such as a cloth mask that covers the mouth and nose, a scarf or a bandana. We understand many families do not have cloth facial coverings in their home; however the CDC website offers options for making these with minimal tools of a t-shirt and scissors. Certainly, those without cloth facial coverings will not be turned away and they will receive a mask at the door. As the public continues to ask how they can help and this will make a big impact and help to save lives.
Can the virus be spread on restaurant takeout orders?
Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. The CDC continues to indicate that currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day use a tissue to cover your coughing or sneezing, and wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, like a packaging container, that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?
According to the CDC, it is not yet known whether weather and temperature affect the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like those that cause the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.
Have you restarted performing elective procedures?
With a very low inpatient volume and continued decrease of COVID-19 cases in our health system and service area, MidMichigan Health has slowly begun to reopen its services and provider offices, and resume time sensitive surgeries. Each surgeon/proceduralist is responsible for prioritizing the need for each patient to have an essential procedure. As your health care provider, we maintain a safe environment both in our physician practices, as well as in our Medical Centers and surgical suites. We have incorporated some temporary changes that our patients will see, in addition to our rigorous cleaning practices, such as changes in entry ways and waiting rooms to ensure social distancing for the safety of our patients. We are here to provide safe, excellent care for our patients; it is our top priority.
Is it safe to come for care?
With a very low inpatient volume and continued decrease of COVID-19 cases in our health system and service area, MidMichigan Health has slowly begun to reopen its services and provider offices, and resume time sensitive surgeries. As your trusted health care provider, now more than ever, it is important to us that you feel safe to visit us for your care, and most importantly, to seek emergency care when every second counts. Michiganders have done an excellent job of staying home to stay safe. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect your care. Everything you have done to flatten the curve means that we are ready and able to care for you, not just for COVID-19, but whenever you need medical attention, both virtually and in person.
We are confident you are safe. It is our promise to you. Here is what we want you know: First and foremost, we are experts in preventing the spread of infection. We maintain a safe environment in our Medical Centers and treatment facilities, our physician practices and surgical suites. In addition to our rigorous cleaning practices and additional sanitizing protocols throughout our buildings, we have incorporated some temporary changes that you will see when you visit us. These changes include limiting the number of visitors in our buildings, symptom screening for those entering our facilities, and changes in entry ways and waiting rooms to ensure social distancing. And, in accordance with the Governor and CDC recommendations, you’ll also see our staff masked and we will ask you to mask, as well. All of these measures are carefully put into place to provide safe, excellent care for you, our patients; it is our top priority. You have our promise to keep you safe and free from harm.