Family Care Network response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating significant impacts in our communities. We continue to actively monitor this rapidly changing situation and will incorporate new information into our website and social media posts as it becomes available. 

The best way to control the spread of COVID-19 is to restrict your interactions with other people. This applies particularly to people at higher risk of severe illness: people over 60 years of age; people with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease or diabetes; people with weakened immune systems; and pregnant women.

It is our current understanding that people without symptoms can be infected with the virus, which means they can unknowingly spread it to others. Please, limit all non-essential interactions as much as possible to protect yourself and others. 

COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 testing continues to be limited by available suppliesYour healthcare provider will evaluate your symptoms to determine whether COVID-19 testing is appropriate. In general, it is not recommended to test people who don’t have symptoms unless they have been in close contact of a confirmed case (within about 6 feet). We are currently following health departmant recommendations to prioritize testing to certain high-risk groups: https://www.whatcomcounty.us/3329/Novel-Coronavirus-COVID-19.

Family Care Network created a centralized COVID-19 testing site in Bellingham to help our clinics safely and efficiently test patients. Because of our extremely limited supplies, at this time:

  • Testing is ONLY by appointment
  • Testing is ONLY for patients with a lab order from an FCN provider

We understand many of our patients and community members are anxious to get tested. Family Care Network providers are following recommended guidelines to prioritize testing to patients in high risk groups with fever, cough or suspected exposure. We hope to expand testing if more supplies become avaialble.

 If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, please call your healthcare provider for evaluation BEFORE seeking care in an office, urgent care, or emergency department. Keep yourself separated from other household members as much as possible.

Additional information regarding Family Care Network’s response to COVID-19 in our region:

Keeping FCN clinics safe:

Our top priority has always been to provide safe, timely, medically appropriate care to all of our patients. We are working hard to ensure that our clinics continue to be safe places for all patients to access appropriate ongoing medical care, not just coronavirus-related care.

Our clinics are open. We are employing a variety of precautionary measures to reduce the risk of exposure to patients being seen for other health reasons. To help with this effort:

  • If you experience respiratory or flu-like symptoms, we strongly encourage you to call ahead for an appointment at your regular primary care clinic. 
  • After regular clinic hours, please call your primary care office to speak with the provider on call PRIOR to seeking care at an urgent care center or emergency department. We are often able to assess symptoms and provide guidance over the phone to avoid unnecessary visits. (After-hours on call numbers for FCN clinics are available here.)
  • If you arrive at one of our primary care or urgent care clinics with respiratory or flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, muscle aches, fatigue, etc), please do NOT immediately enter the waiting room.  Instead, please wait in your car and call the clinic to let staff know that you have arrived.  You may be greeted at the main entrance of the office by an FCN staff member who will assist with this process. 
  • While in your car, you may be screened by our triage staff to gather more medical information on your condition. 
  • If you are asked to come into the main clinic waiting room, you may be asked to wear protective gear. Select patients may be evaluated in their cars or escorted through an alternate clinic entrance.

You may see more staff in personal protective gear (face masks, gowns). Please do not be alarmed. This is done as a precaution to protect patients and staff, so we can continue to safely see patients in our clinics for other health concerns.

COVID-19 basics:

  • COVID-19 is a new strain of a respiratory coronavirus.
  • It has symptoms similar to the flu: fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, etc.
  • Most people (80%) who are infected experience a minor illness that does not require medical attention.
  • The people at greatest risk of severe illness are those with underlying conditions and the elderly.

If you are experiencing flu-like or respiratory symptoms:

  • Most viruses can be adequately cared for from home with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications.
  • If you have questions about your symptoms, please call BEFORE going to the urgent care or your clinic.

If your symptoms worsen (increased fever, persistent fever that stays above 100.4F, and/or shortness of breath) and you need medical attention:

  • PLEASE CALL your primary care clinic PRIOR to seeking care there or at another site (urgent care or emergency department). Clinic staff, or the on call clinic provider after routine office hours, will evaluate your symptoms and advise you on the best course of action. We may be able to treat you over the phone. (After-hours on call numbers for FCN clinics are available here.) 
  • If it is determined that you need to be seen at one of our clinics, you may be asked to call when you arrive and remain in your car. Staff may evaluate you in your car, or ask you to enter the clinic from an alternate entrance.
  • Testing for flu and/or COVID-19 will be based on protocols provided by local health agencies.

To reduce the spread of disease:

  • Restrict your activities outside the home and avoid all non-essential public interactions with other people. 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes by using the crook of your arm or with a tissue that is thrown away in the garbage.
  • If you are sick, stay home (except to seek medical care).
  • Wash hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Use hand sanitizer.

Please be assured that FCN follows stringent protocols for cleaning and decontamination in all areas of our clinics.

We recommend the following resources for current, trustworthy information about COVID-19:

For more information about handwashing and other steps you can take to reduce the spread of disease:

Last updated: 3/20/2020