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AltaMed Task Force Provides Coronavirus Training for Staff and Prepares for Potential Patients

March 10, 2020

LOS ANGELES—AltaMed Health Services, one of the nation’s largest independent federally qualified community health centers, has formed an internal task force to train staff on infectious disease protocols to prepare for the potential case load of suspected novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients. At this time, AltaMed has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 and continues to closely monitor the outbreak.

To protect its patients and health center staff, AltaMed follows guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding COVID-19:

  • Isolate patients who present with suspected symptoms and immediately notify the local health department, state health department, and the CDC.
  • Interview the patient and close contacts, such as family members and co-workers, to obtain detailed information on the nature of exposure.
  • Ensure our staff use defined infection control protocols and measures including how to put on and remove personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure the safety of staff and our environment.
  • Monitor the health of our providers who care for the patient.

"Our team has been working tirelessly to implement rapid response plans, conduct drills and distribute educational tools to ensure our employees are well-prepared to care for our community,” said Sherrill Brown, M.D., Medical Director, Infection Prevention for AltaMed. “We are working closely with CDC to incorporate their latest recommendations.”

AltaMed has created a robust process to capture patient medical history and identify risk factors. They have also implemented screening tools to identify patients who present with symptoms of infection. If any are identified, protocols will be in place to care for and carefully monitor these patients.

“We understand that the public is concerned so we’ve created a landing page on our website specifically about novel coronavirus to answer questions our patients may have,” said Dr. Brown. “We also have signage in our lobbies informing patients about symptoms and instructions to follow if they think they may have been exposed to the coronavirus.”

At this time, most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus, because it’s not spreading widely. AltaMed continues to encourage patients to follow prevention recommendations such as frequent hand washing, staying home if they’re feeling sick, and avoiding contact with other people.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough or shortness of breath and believe you have been exposed to coronavirus, call AltaMed at (888) 499-9303 for evaluation, especially if you have other health conditions. It is important to call ahead before coming into the clinic, so that staff can prepare for you and avoid putting yourself and others at risk. Be sure to tell your health care provider about recent travel or any close contacts that may have coronavirus.  

If you develop severe symptoms such as severe shortness of breath that require immediate medical evaluation, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room.

For more details on coronavirus prevention or resources, visit: AltaMed.org/coronavirus.