· COVID-19,Holidays

Dear Signature Family,

The Holidays are upon us. It may seem like there are few things to celebrate this year and even fewer people that we are allowed to celebrate with.

We have each other and we have our health. That’s a good start. As people make holiday plans, we thought this would be a good time to help you sort through Holiday Etiquette 2020, or “how to refill a wine glass over Facetime”.

Our city, state, and the US in general is seeing an upsurge in COVID-19 cases. This has led the governor to issue a mandate that no more than 10 people can congregate under one roof for any occasion. While the enforceability of this mandate is not something we can comment on, we support the spirit in which it is intended. We urge our patients to continue to practice responsible social distancing, handwashing and masking where appropriate. We understand that many r/ottawa - The Social Bubble you think you have vs reality.of you have isolated yourselves in "bubbles" that may include immediate family members, as well as a few close friends and/or caregivers. Some of those bubbles will exceed 10 people. Our best advice in these cases is to be responsible.

We have received multiple requests for pre-gathering SARS-CoV-2 testing. Such testing does provide an extra layer of comfort prior to meeting with your loved ones; but does not replace responsible behavior. An asymptomatic individual who was exposed yesterday may test negative today and still be capable of spreading the virus tomorrow. Best practice is to self-quarantine for several days before getting tested and remain quarantined up to the time of your gathering. Families should consider carefully whether high risk individuals, such as family members over the age of 70 or with immunocompromising conditions, should attend these gatherings at all, masked or not.

Currently, there are two SARS-CoV-2 vaccines that have made a splash in the media. Moderna and Pfizer will both be coming to market with mRNA-based vaccines which appear to induce immunity in over 90% of recipients. They are not live-virus vaccines so immunocompromised patients may receive them. Many strategies have been proposed for distribution of the vaccines. Currently, it is all speculation. Signature has developed strong relationships with distributors of vaccines and we will let you know when we have them in stock. Until then, we will continue to rely heavily on reducing exposures and testing.

Testing for SARS-CoV-2 is now available through a wide variety of platforms. It is important to remember that PCR testing is the most accurate and most of these have the longest turnaround times: anywhere from 2 to 4 days. Antigen testing is less accurate, especially in asymptomatic individuals. The accuracy of a single negative test in a patient with a virus but without symptoms is around 70%. These antigen tests are the ones that are being marketed as point-of-care tests with turnaround times of under an hour. There are point-of-care PCR tests that have been developed, but these are not yet available to medical practices for routine use. Signature Healthcare offers multiple testing options and can usually accommodate most patient’s testing needs. Please contact your doctor/nurse team if you need testing, for any reason.

For the safety of our patients and our staff, all SARS-CoV-2 testing will be done outside. For now, we will ask you to remain in your vehicle. As the season progresses, we may also erect a staging/testing area on the porch outside of our front door in SouthPark. Testing is offered Monday through Friday. In most situations, if you have respiratory symptoms and need to be seen for another reason (such as blood draw, vaccination or other routine medical concerns) we will ask you to come by for SARS-CoV-2 testing first. Once we have received a negative test result, we will be able to see you inside the office.

2020 has been a year unlike any we have seen. The COVID-19 pandemic has touched some of us directly, and all of us indirectly. It has affected our health in a variety of ways. Your family at Signature Healthcare would like you to know that we remain vigilant on the forefront of this pandemic and are here for you, as you would expect family to be.

Sincerely,

The Signature Healthcare team

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