Our Office Policies During COVID-19–Including Information about Testing

virus illustration with word COVID-19 in red

We are seeing patients in our office as usual! We ask you to call our office to reschedule if:

  • You have symptoms of a flu-like illness (fever, cough, etc.)
  • You have traveled outside of the U.S. within the last 14 days
  • You have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 infection or symptoms of a flu-like illness, or has traveled outside the country within the last 14 days

If you do not belong to one of the above groups, we are very happy to see you as usual.

  • Please wear a mask.
  • Your temperature will be checked before you enter the waiting room.
  • If complete your “New Patient” or “Return Visit” forms online (click here), this will minimize your interactions at the reception desk.

We ask that you come alone to your appointment unless you require a support person to assist you. For our expectant mothers, we want to be flexible about including a support person, while still preserving social distancing in our waiting rooms. Please call ahead to ask about bringing your partner or support person. Your first prenatal visit, ultrasound visit, or problem prenatal visit might be occasions for which you would like to have a partner or family member participate.

For any OB patient who may fit into one of the above risk groups, please call our office before you come in. We will arrange your continuing care with the appropriate precautions.

If you have symptoms or have been exposed to a coronavirus patient, ISOLATE YOURSELF from others, whether or not you are tested. In other words, best practices are the same whether or not you have test results! In order to protect other patients, including expectant mothers, please DO NOT come to our office if you feel sick. Drive-thru testing locations have the advantage of not exposing other patients to sick individuals. If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 or go to the Emergency Room.

If You Believe You May be Ill Due to Coronavirus Infection

If you feel you are ill enough to need hospital care, you should come to the emergency room. Older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild. If you have severe symptoms, such as persistent pain or pressure in the chest, difficulty breathing, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips of face, contact your healthcare provider or emergency room and seek care immediately. If you are only mildly ill and are NOT in one of the high-risk groups described above, you can isolate yourself at home and take the measures you usually take for flu-like illnesses.

ALL PERSONS WITH FLU SYMPTOMS should keep a distance from others, practice good hand hygiene, and follow the usual  care and comfort measures for other viral illnesses. Drink fluids, use aspirin, ibuprofen, or  Tylenol to treat fever, aches, etc., and rest. People who are not sick enough to need hospital care should stay at home, separate themselves from others, and follow the other CDC guidelines. Again—COVID-19 causes only a mild to moderate illness in the great majority of infected people. We are very fortunate, in Jefferson County,  Alabama, to have high-quality medical care.

Considerations for who should get tested (quoted from CDC.gov):

  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19
  • People who have had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more) with someone with confirmed COVID-19.​​
  • People who have been asked or referred to get testing by their healthcare provider, localexternal icon or state health department.

Not everyone needs to be tested. If you do get tested, you should self-quarantine/isolate at home pending test results and follow the advice of your health care provider or a public health professional.

What the Alabama Dept. of Public Health recommends (quoted from AlabamaPublicHealth.gov):

• If a person has symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested with a nasal test*
• If you have been exposed to COVID -19 – but do not have symptoms – you should wait at least 3-4 days after exposure before
being tested.
* The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) recommendation for testing is a PCR (nasal swab) test only. Blood tests for antibodies are NOT currently recommended for determining illness status.

Note that ADPH is not totally clear about whether an individual who has been exposed, but is not showing signs of illness after 3 to 4 days, may use his discretion about whether to be tested. We advise that you discuss your individual situation with your doctor.

What happens after you are tested:

  • You should avoid contact with other people until you receive your test result. (self-quarantine).
  • You will be advised to check your temperature twice a day and be alert for symptoms of illness.
  • If you are at high risk for severe illness (an older adult, someone with weakened immune symptoms or other serious medical problems), seek medical care immediately if you think you may be getting sick, even if your symptoms are mild.
  • If you do not have high risk for severe COVID-19 illness, and you develop mild to moderate symptoms, you can care for yourself at home. Contact your healthcare provider for further guidance.
  • IN ALL CASES, SEEK EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE IF YOU HAVE DIFFICULTY BREATHING OR SHORTNESS OF BREATH, NEW CHEST PAIN OR PRESSURE, COUGHING UP BLOOD, MENTAL CONFUSION OR SLOW MENTAL RESPONSE, YOU AE UNABLE TO KEEP LIQUIDS DOWN OR HAVE SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION LIKE DIZZINESS WHEN STANDING. Call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Room.
  • If your test is negative, your illness COVID-19 is unlikely to be the cause of your illness. YOU SHOULD STILL SELF-ISOLATE UNTIL YOU ARE WELL. 
  • If your test result is positive, you will be given instructions for self-isolation to keep from spreading the virus.
  • You may be called by a member of the Health Department staff. The caller may ask you to provide information about your identity, your symptoms, living situation, persons you may have been in contact with, etc. The health department states your name will not be given to the contacts you identify. There are certain exceptions, like your employer. BEWARE OF SCAM CALLS. DO NOT GIVE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OR ANY FINANCIAL INFORMATION!

A negative test in a person with no symptoms has limitation.

This test provides no information. The individual may not have enough of the virus at the time of the test to trigger a positive result. It gives no reassurance that a test the next day will also be negative.  This is why the health department recommends you wait 3 to 4 days after contact with someone who is positive, before being tested. If you have become infected, this is the probable amount of time it will take for the virus to multiply enough to be detected. CDC guidelines allow for the possibility that a person may not develop detectable virus for up to 14 days from their last exposure. This would be unusual. Whether you have symptoms of illness or are at risk for COVID illness because of a recent contact, your healthcare provider’s recommendations for your care will be the same (with or without a test result). But if you have been exposed to the virus by contact with infected individuals, be aware that you are now at risk. Follow the above instructions for self-quarantine and self-monitoring whether or not you seek testing.

Our patients who develop symptoms

You should consult your primary doctor or the UAB’s call center for COVID-19 testing about whether you should be tested. If you have only mild to moderate symptoms, and are able to care for yourself, your doctor may suggest that you stay at home and strictly isolate yourself from others. For the protection of other patients, Sparks & Favor is not testing in our office.

Our Pregnant Patients

If you are pregnant and have symptoms of a flu-like illness, we DO want you to be tested. Our obstetric patients should call us immediately if you believe you have symptoms of a flu-like illness. The results of your test will guide us to provide your continuing prenatal care with the appropriate precautions.

If you have symptoms, please call us before coming to the office, WHETHER YOU ARE PREGNANT OR A GYN PATIENT.  We are available by telephone 24/7, and we will advise you about the next step in your care. Call 911 or go directly to the emergency room if you are experiencing a medical emergency.