We will update this page as new information becomes available.

4/29/2020

Hi Harmony Family!

In this email you will find two things. An update on antibody testing and our plans for re-opening the office to well visits and routine follow ups.

Antibody testing

We will be rolling out Covid-19 antibody testing (blood tests) through Quest labs very soon. The cost is $55 billed directly to you by Quest. Quest is not offering the same price to us, so billing through us is more. Although these tests are not perfect, they will give us some important information about community exposure and possible future risk. The presence of IgG antibodies indicates that you have been infected in the past with the virus and mounted an immune response against it. They are not useful for diagnosing acute infections (if you are sick now) but look for a past infection. Unfortunately there is not enough data yet to determine if there is protection against future infection

Office Changes

Starting next Monday we begin the process of seeing follow ups and well visits in the office. There will be several changes to comply with state and CDC guidance.

The changes include the following:

  • We will have fewer appointment slots to allow for deep cleaning of the equipment and surfaces (rooms, bathrooms, counters, etc) after each visit.
  • We will not utilize the waiting room during this time All literature, toys, magazines will be removed from the waiting room and the exam rooms.
  • Our goal is to have no more than 1 patient in the office at a time. You will need to wait in your car until your appointment time.
  • The front door may be locked and you will need to knock or call the office.
  • We will have separate exam rooms dedicated to well visits and sick visits.
  • Staff will be wearing masks and other PPE as appropriate.
  • Patients will be required to wear cloth face covering. You are encouraged to wear your own mask but a clean mask will be provided if you do not have one.
  • Staff will have daily temperature checks and will stay home if feeling unwell.
  • We will continue to use curbside pickup of Rx, supplements or any other items.
  • We will return to opening the office at 8 am but will continue to close at 4 pm to allow for end of day cleaning.

These changes are temporary although we don’t know how long we will need to keep each change.

Stay safe and well!

Let me know if you need me,
Dr. Neely

4/8/2020

While practicing social distancing, remember to also take care of your whole self. Click here to view some tips to help your health and well-being.

3/27/2020

Hi Harmony Family! Here’s the latest update regarding the office and your health during this pandemic. 

As of yesterday Cherokee County has joined most of the cities in the county and issued a shelter in place order.  We are considered an essential service and will remain open to care for all of you. 

But we are making the following changes temporarily:

  • We will only be in the office Monday – Thursday from 9am to 4pm. 
  • As usual I am still available for urgent needs outside of office hours.
  • We will conduct all visits remotely via video or telephone unless an in person exam is absolutely necessary 
  • We will be rescheduling annual physicals that are scheduled in the next two weeks 
  • We will still provide your medicine and supplement refills.  We can mail these to you or bring them out to your car.  
  • Call or text with minor emergencies – do not go to the ER or Urgent Care without talking to me first. My goal is to keep you out of these places to decrease your chance of becoming infected.
  • For a major emergency call 911!

I have had a lot of questions about the best ways to prevent getting sick. First and foremost for prevention are the following… These really work!!!

  • Hand washing frequently 
  • Using alcohol based hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available 
  • Staying home and social distancing when you must go out. 

Along with the above here are some vitamins and supplements that may improve your immune function and help you stay healthy:

  • Zinc – up to 25mg daily, max 50mg daily – use lozenges or tablets.  Don’t use a nasal spray as it can cause you to lose your sense of smell which can be permanent.  
  • Vitamin C – at least 500 mg daily, can take more but watch for stomach upset with high doses
  • Vitamin D3 – at least 2000-5000 iu’s daily, (more if recommended previously)
  • Quercetin – this occurs abundantly in red wine, tea, onions, kale, tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, apples, and berries and can be taken as a supplement as well ***Can lower BP and Sugar so you need to be careful if you are on medications for those conditions***
  • Green Tea extract – Two components have been studied: L-theanine and epigallocatechin gallate, this can be taken as a supplement or just drink some green tea a few times a day – it’s good for stress reduction too!
  • Elderberry – Generally safe and well tolerated but shouldn’t be used by patients with autoimmune diseases (because it can worsen those issues and cause the medications to be less effective)
  • Brewers yeast – Generally safe and well tolerated but shouldn’t be used by patients with autoimmune diseases (because it can worsen those issues and cause the medications to be less effective) ***Can decrease blood sugar and should be used with caution in patients with diabetes***

Lastly, I know this time is very difficult for all of us. Please try to stay connected to each other via virtual means and phone calls. Remember your older neighbors, friends and family that might not be as connected and give them a call. 

Eat healthy, Drink lots of water and Exercise!  Enjoy the sunshine and warmer weather while it lasts…. We will get through this. 

This and all my past updates can be found at https://www.harmonyfm.net/2020/03/10/clinic-update-on-covid-19/

Stay safe and well!
Let me know if you need me,
Dr. Neely

P.S. Yoda and Ben are missing all the extra love they usually get from you!

3/20/2020

Hi Harmony Family! It’s me again 🙂 It’s hard to keep on top of this ever changing threat from COVID-19 but I’m trying. 

I wanted to give you all a brief update and inform you of some more changes that we are implementing in our practice. 

As of today we are essentially not seeing anyone in the office except for urgent needs. 

  • If you have a scheduled appointment for visits or labs, we will be contacting you. 
  • I will utilize telemedicine and do routine visits via telephone or video if possible, we can send copies of your labs beforehand so you can review with me. 
  • If you need me or feel like you need to be seen urgently, please call, email or text and we will decide the best way to facilitate treatment that will keep you and us safe. 
  • If you need to pick up supplements or prescriptions, for now we will remain open for this, however we request that you call first and we will run the medicine out to your car OR we can mail them to you. 

IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS (cough, fever, shortness of breath or anything concerning to you) AND think you have possibly been exposed to someone with the virus, please call me to discuss whether you need to be tested. I am not able to do testing at the office yet due to lack of supplies (they are not available from our lab). However, if you meet the criteria to be tested, I can put in a request through the health department to get you scheduled at a drive through testing site.

There is a lot of information out there and I know it is scary and confusing. Here are a few sites that I trust to have accurate information. Of course you are welcome to contact me with specific questions that may pertain your personal health situation. 

https://cdc.gov
https://familydoctor.org
https://dph.georgia.gov

Let’s keep our families and community safe by staying home as much as possible, washing hands and protecting those most vulnerable. 

Dr. Neely

3/10/2020

We’ve been getting quite a few questions about the “coronavirus” (COVID-19) in the past weeks. Nobody is certain how quickly this virus will spread through the community but it is surrounding us and I am sure that there will be more spread in the coming weeks.

Inevitably, many of you will get sick with some type of respiratory infection now or soon; 99% of those will be common viral illness or influenza. But, given the potential of COVID-19, we all need to approach things at our clinic and in public a little bit differently. These recommendations and measures are meant to help you and us.

Please read ALL of the following as it will answer most questions you have or that may come up. We are happy to answer questions individually where needed, but reading this first will help our staff out tremendously.

IF YOU ARE SICK

We are fully committed to caring for our patients in the most science-based, safest way possible. To this aim, we’ve instituted a few policies to protect ourselves and our staff, which — in turn — keeps all our patients, families, and communities as healthy as possible.

Our triage protocol for upper respiratory infections (URI), is outlined in detail below.

The most important parts are:

  • URI symptoms WITHOUT FEVER.
    If you have symptoms of an upper respiratory infection (cough, runny nose, congestion, etc.) and no fever (less than 100.4 F) that is less than 3 weeks in duration, we will recommend home care and that you not come in for an in-person visit to our clinic. This is the same as we currently do for most common colds and suspected influenza, but now it is even more important to avoid clinic visits.

  • URI symptoms WITH FEVER.
    If you have upper respiratory symptoms and/or a fever WITHOUT signs of severe illness (namely, shortness of breath), a nurse or your provider will recommend a telephone visit to ascertain if testing* treatment, or an in-person visit is warranted. If we determine that you need an in-person visit, the visit will occur in your vehicle in the parking lot of our clinic so as to prevent potential spread and exposure to others. SERIOUSLY, WE WILL SEE YOU IN THE PARKING LOT!

    With or without testing, it is advisable you isolate yourself as much as possible for 7–10 days from onset of symptoms. This is especially important with larger crowds (stores, events, etc) and with vulnerable populations. (elderly and/or ill)

  • URI with FEVER and/or SEVERE symptoms.
    Based on what we know thus far, in healthy people under 60, the odds of severe illness (10%) or death (1%) are very low with COVID-19 infections. But, if you have URI symptoms with severe concerns such as shortness of breath, we will likely refer you directly to an emergency room (hospital).This is the best course of action with or without COVID-19. Cases of COVID-19 have shown most people who get really sick (require hospitalization) occur approximately 9-12 days after onset of symptoms first appear; much more common in higher-risk people (age 60+ and/or chronic diseases).

REMINDERS ON FEVER

    • Fever is 100.4 F or higher measured by a thermometer. (If you don’t have one, get one!) 
    • “Feeling” a fever (subjective) isn’t good enough.
    • There is no such thing as a lower “fever” cutoff based on your baseline temperature.

TESTING WHEN SICK

Influenza or other things. There are many things that are much more likely to cause URI symptoms than COVID-19, namely influenza. If there are enough concerns and a fever, we may recommend a nasal swab for influenza or throat swab for strep. 

Coronavirus testing will be limited for the foreseeable future. We do NOT currently have access to COVID-19 testing but we are working with our lab vendor to confirm the exact specifics (like pricing and where the testing will be available). Hopefully, that will be soon but even when so, we will not be recommending testing for everyone with URI symptoms. We will be making this decision on a case-by-case basis, but the near-term reality is there will not be enough testing nationwide to test every person with a cough.

AVOIDING THE ER

Emergency rooms are not going to perform on-demand COVID-19. So, unless you are having a real emergency, please avoid them at all costs. Overburdening our hospitals and exposing yourself to lots of sick people due to anxiety of COVID-19 is not wise; trust me!

IF COVID-19 IS FOUND IN OUR PATIENTS OR CLINIC

Why are we taking extreme caution to avoid clinic visits?

If an individual enters our clinic carrying COVID-19 (later found by testing), we would likely have to close our clinic for 14 days or longer! Like, completely close….no in-person interactions and exams, prescription pickups, etc. This would obviously be very bad for us and you! (If this were to occur, we would attempt to still offer telephone triage and telemedicine visits but we want to avoid closing our doors, of course!)

Even if we individually get exposed to a COVID-19 case, we will likely need to isolate ourselves (no patient interactions) for 14 days or longer. This would be needed to avoid exposing others, especially our sicker patients.

FINAL THOUGHTS

We have put together these guidelines to prevent the spread of this illness to the most vulnerable around us. We so appreciate your understanding, patience, and effort to keep everyone in the Harmony family healthy as we all see our routines upended a bit by this virus.