COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Updates


Congratulations! During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic you stayed at home, sheltered in place, and helped flatten the curve. For many of you this meant delaying important medical care.

As a result, childhood immunizations in California are down by 40%, leaving unvaccinated infants and children more vulnerable to dangerous diseases like measles and whooping cough. For adults, routine cancer screening has dropped 90%, and if this trend continues many cancer cases could go undiagnosed or be diagnosed at a later stage with a poorer prognosis.

But together, we can reverse these trends and take the time necessary to focus on our health.

But…is it safe?

Yes, it is safe to see your doctor! Over the past few months you may have seen and heard much about COVID-19 that has created some fear and anxiety about visiting your doctor’s office. Yet most of our offices have been open and we continued to safely treat patients during this time. Our doctors are 100% committed to providing care in the safest environment possible and we have implemented a number of new procedures to ensure your safety. Give your doctor’s office a call and we will be happy to explain in detail the precautions which we have implemented.

Your health and the health of your family should not wait. Whether you or your child needs an annual wellness visit, vaccines, or you just have a nagging problem that you’d like to address, please feel confident that our doctors’ offices are safe, open, and ready to provide the high quality and safe care you deserve.

SCCIPA Patient

Revised 4/29/2020, News of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to evolve rapidly and it is important to stay up to date with the latest local and national news so that you and your loved ones can remain safe. As of this writing, public health officials in the Bay Area extended the residents shelter in place order through the end of May. This is a necessary measure to protect you and others from virus exposure. Additionally, the federal government is advising citizens to avoid groups unless part of your own household.

California Governor, Gavin Newsom, lifted a state-wide hold on elective procedures. Reach out to your provider regarding rescheduling of delayed elective procedures.

Valuable sources of information to check are:

Santa Clara County Public Health Department:


Mercury News

SF Chronicle: (including Coronavirus Tracker)

When you do have to go out for essential items (i.e. food, medications), please take every precaution as noted here:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Don’t neglect the web areas between the fingers and thumbs.
  • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face; particularly your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If you are sick, but not sick enough to seek medical attention, stay home to limit possible spread to others.
  • When you have to travel outside the home, wear a facemask.

Your SCCIPA team is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of you, your loved ones, and our entire community. Our 850 providers, local hospital facilities and urgent care centers will continue to determinedly serve your health care needs in these unsettled times.

SCCIPA Health Care Provider

Telemedicine Updates 3/18/2020

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On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, CMS broadened access to telehealth services on a temporary and emergency basis to Medicare beneficiaries so they can receive services from their doctors without having to travel to a doctor’s office. With the emergence of COVID-19, the expanding use of technology allows people to maintain access to care while limiting community spread of the virus. SCCIPA wishes to ensure patient access to care is maintained during this health crisis and will reimburse providers for telehealth services for both Commercial HMO and Medicare Advantage patients alike.

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Shelter In Place, Elective Procedures & Telemedicine Updates 3/16/2020

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The COVID-19 situation continues to change rapidly. San Francisco Bay Area counties will be placed on a “shelter in place” order for the following counties: San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda. It is to take effect 12:01AM Tuesday March 17, 2020 and stay in place until at least April 7, 2020. All of this panic in our county, our country and our world are placing a huge burden on the Healthcare System and everyone’s medical practice. We want you to know that SCCIPA/PPMSI is well aware of your crisis and is here to help in any way possible. To support the order, PPMSI has executed its remote workforce business continuity plan to ensure the team is faithfully doing all the tasks you have come to expect from SCCIPA including but not limited to processing authorizations, paying claims and performing case management. The following are thoughts to help with your practice during this crisis:

  • Use your office space to help create Social Distancing
  • Keep the examination and consultation rooms full with individual patients and those who came with them to help reduce crowding in the waiting room.
  • When the waiting room gets crowded have patients wait in their car and notify them by cell phone when it is their turn to come to the office and keep them informed during this process.
  • Use telemedicine as much as possible. Be sure to document details of the call in the patient record. SCCIPA will pay for codes 99441, 99442, 99443 at CMS rates when billed with the requisite Modifier (GT, GQ, GO or 95) to denote the type of technology used along with Place of Service Code ’02’ Telehealth.

COVID-19 testing in Santa Clara County is still not easily available but for sure it will not be done in the physician’s office in the near term. Use telemedicine to direct appropriate symptomatic patients and exposed high risk patients to known testing sites such as Hospital ER’s and please let the ER’s know when you are sending a patient for testing.

The American College of Surgeons and the U.S. Surgeon General have sent out recommendations for surgeons in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. Their goal: to preserve acute care hospitals’ capacity to provide services to COVID-19 patients. To effect that goal, they asked that hospitals, hospital systems, and surgeons “thoughtfully review all scheduled elective procedures.” Consistent with those recommendations, please consider postponing, for at least 30 days, any surgery or procedure that meets the following criteria:

(a) it is to be performed in one of our acute care hospitals; and (b) its postponement will not, in your judgment, adversely affect the patient’s short or long-term health. Contact facility schedulers to assist with rescheduling any surgery or procedure that meets these criteria.

Screening 3/11/2020

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Importantly, the CDC has updated information for healthcare professionals. We encourage you to check their website regularly for the latest advice: In brief, it is recommended that when assessing suspect persons with or without symptoms, every effort should be made to interview the Persons Under Investigation (PUI) by telephone, text, or video. Additionally, taken directly from the CDC website: Clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Decisions on which patients receive testing should be based on the local epidemiology of COVID-19, as well as the clinical course of illness.

Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 have developed fever and/or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing). Clinicians are strongly encouraged to test for other causes of respiratory illness, including infections such as influenza. Epidemiologic factors that may help guide decisions on whether to test include: any persons, including healthcare workers, who have had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset, or a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of symptom onset. LabCorp and Quest have testing capability, but lab personnel cannot collect specimens. Tests must be ordered, and specimens collected, by a physician or other authorized healthcare provider. Further information related to lab testing can be found here: covid-19.