BY MARK DRISCOLL, CEO, BGHC- Over the past few months, the Boca Grande Health Clinic and its physicians have worked hard to provide a care environment that lays the foundation for the safe return of winter residents and the ongoing health of our Island community. Our actions have been guided by science and by a heartfelt desire to serve the best interests of you, our neighbors. We have received a lot of feedback, and for that I thank you, because we recognize that our fight against the Coronavirus will only be won with the support of the collective.
It appears that COVID-19, the most unwelcome guest of the year, will be with us for quite a while, and we need to stay vigilant in order to keep the Island safe. With this in mind, and as “the season” begins, I’d like to summarize the many key accomplishments of the last 90 days.
The BG Pledge
First and foremost, more than 83 Island employers and 650 individuals have signed the Boca Grande Pledge to follow guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to go above and beyond to support one another and to keep one another and the entire Boca Grande community healthy and safe for everyone to enjoy for many years to come. If you haven’t taken the BG Pledge, please go to the clinic website, BGHC.org and sign up anytime.
Over the summer, the Clinic provided hand sanitizer stations and no-contact thermometers to all businesses to help keep us all safer.
Flu Shot Clinics
Our drive-thru flu shot clinics are operational and ready for use by our registered patients as well as the employees of island businesses who have signed the Boca Grande Pledge. Remaining clinics are open from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 14 and 15, Oct. 21 and 22, Oct. 28 and 29, Nov. 4 and 5, Nov. 11 and 12, and Nov. 18 and 19. The flu shots will be given under the Clinic Annex carport. Please call the Clinic Annex at 941-964-0490 to register for a flu shot time slot.
Back to Boca Virtual Grande Rounds
In partnership with the Boca Grande Health Foundation and the Healthnetwork Foundation, the Clinic is sponsoring “Back to Boca,” a four-part virtual Grande Rounds educational series. The first two sessions have occurred and have received high satisfaction scores. The webinars are open to all. To register for the sessions, go to: https://bghcfoundation.com/webinar-series/. Recordings of the sessions can be found at https://bghcfoundation.com/webinar-series/.
Travel Guidelines and Voluntary Self-Quarantine
A risk score testing methodology and guidelines have been put in place to help you if you travel, have been exposed, or think you have been exposed. The Clinic has made many recommendations, including asking everyone to observe a voluntary 14-day quarantine, and to talk with your physician about potential COVID-19 testing.
New Care Precautions
Virtual visits will remain the starting point for most patient care; however, we have guidelines for in-person patient appointments as well. Please talk with your physician about what is best for your situation.
For those who visit us in person, we are continuing the practice of having separate care teams at the Clinic and the Annex. Starting in mid-October we will have patient schedules for both locations. This will be for both virtual appointments and in-person appointments. Testing and injections will be performed outside of the Annex in a tent set up for this purpose.
In addition, the Clinic has made substantial changes to care protocols to decrease the risk of transmitting the novel Coronavirus to patients or healthcare staff. This includes the purchase of protective gear for our healthcare workers, installation of protective screens, acquisition of testing kits and purchase of air purifiers and ongoing deep cleanings.
The Clinic currently offers COVID-19 testing with a saliva RT-PCR test, a molecular test that detects the virus’s genetic material. This is a test that you perform at home and ship via FedEx Express. Results are usually available in two to three days. This is a test for active infection.
We will soon have the ability to perform rapid antigen testing. This test involves a nasal swab (not the deep one) and also tests for active infection. We will perform the rapid tests in a designated area at the Annex building. We also are available to provide a test for COVID-19 antibodies, which requires a blood draw and can give confirmation of a previous infection with COVID-19. We encourage you to call us when you return to Boca Grande to discuss an appropriate testing protocol for your individual situation if at any time you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or if you ever have a known exposure to COVID-19.
We would like to remind everyone, though, that all tests have limitations, and a negative test for active infection does not replace any of the CDC recommendations for wearing a mask when around others not in your household, safe distancing and frequent hand-washing.
Welcome Back Information
We are in the process of developing a “welcome back” kit to help returning residents get up to speed on how we’re managing through the Coronavirus pandemic. This kit will have copies of all the COVID-19-related information for quick and easy use. We will be announcing soon how this kit will be distributed.
Sustained Information and
A big part of our Back to the Island plan is having an ongoing stream of communications to help keep our patients and the community in the know and promote safe and healthy living. With the assistance of the Boca Beacon, the Clinic remains committed to providing timely COVID-19 health news and information.
All of us at the Clinic are looking forward to seeing and hearing from all of you again soon.