Subject: Office Update 7/17/20

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Summer update...
Friday, July 17

Hello patients and friends,

It’s been a while since I sent a note and I wanted to follow up with a few updates on the COVID-19 situation in Oregon, our practice accommodations, and my thoughts about the coming months.

For the moment we’re very busy catching up in the office from months of being mostly closed to “routine” physicals and follow up visits. Julia and Dr. Biemer are also working hard at staying healthy so we can continue to care for you.

Since the beginning of June, we have been open from 8 am to 4:30 pm on Monday to Thursday and 8 am to noon on Friday. As always I am available after hours for urgent matters by calling my cell phone 503-481-5871 and for non-urgent questions I’d encourage you to use our Athena Portal.

We have continued to use the DOXY.ME platform for virtual visits. The sign on is very simple and patients who have used it are impressed with its ease and how closely it resembles an in-person visit. During the early months of Covid we had a lot of visits with patients using this platform and we are still very much interested in its use going forward. I am hoping for the best but it would be expected that during the fall and winter flu season it will again be risky to leave home if you have medical issues complicating your health. Please let our staff know if you’d like assistance in setting up a virtual visit.

Really a huge disappointment that locally and nationally testing continues to be a problem. In addition to testing patients who have a new cough, or fever etc., we have many patients who have been exposed to someone with Covid, or are going to be traveling soon and need to test negative within a short window before travel. We are working with 3 labs (and working on a 4th) to try and accommodate your requests. We have a few test kits, but due to shortages of both testing KITS (swab, tubes for transport etc.) and REAGENTS (testing solutions for the lab) it is a fact that nasal swabs for Covid often take between 3 and 5 days to be returned. I agree this is NOT very helpful. See list below as well, with some urgent cares that are doing testing.

Although the state of Oregon has had a significant increase in cases compared with a month ago we’ve avoided the dramatic increases that have been seen in many large populous states. St. Vincent and Providence Portland continue to take on all the Covid patients for the 8 Providence hospitals in the state and currently we have just over 10 patients in the hospital. We’re doing well with equipment for protecting health care workers in the hospital and I think we’re ready for a “surge” should it occur in the fall. I am concerned though that the virus has shown no signs of slowing in the summer, and with relaxed distancing and groups gathering we’re likely to continue to see significant numbers in the months ahead. Please protect yourself by wearing a mask and think twice before traveling to an area with high prevalence of disease.

Stay well!

Jim Biemer, Julia Jones and the team

COVID Testing:

Washington county Covid testing resources - Note that many of these are also relevant to other counties. This is one of the more comprehensive lists of testing locations we have come across.

Providence Testing - Providence is offering multiple testing locations. Generally these are most useful for patients showing symptoms. They may also assist with pre-surgical testing or other required testing for entrance to living facilities etc. Call 503-216-8820. Qualifications for testing may vary regionally.

American Family Care Urgent Care - Offering testing to individuals based on criteria laid out by the Oregon Health Authority. Do require individuals to be prescreened with a virtual visit. 

Legacy GoHealth - Also offering community testing. Requires pre-screening by virtual visit to initiate. 

Which kind of test should I get? 

Viral test: tells you whether you have active virus. Ideal for individuals with symptoms or known exposure. May be required for access to certain facilities, prior to surgical procedures or travel, etc. 

Antibody test: tells you whether you have had Covid virus in the past. It may take three or more weeks after infection for antibodies to become detectable. Note, at this point there is not sufficient data on how much protection antibodies offer or how long protection may last. A positive result for antibodies should not be interpreted as immunity or protection.  

James Biemer, 9135 SW Barnes Rd, Suite 863, Portland, OR 97225, United States
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