- Getting needed medical care >>
- COVID-19 Testing >>
- Antibody testing >>
- Keeping FCN clinics safe >>
- COVID-19 Basics >>
- If you have flu-like symptoms >>
- Reducing the spread of disease >>
- Resources >>
Getting needed medical care
Don't put off medical care -- your health is too important! Medical appointments are considered an essential activity, and all our clinics have appointments available.
As a patient of Family Care Network, you can access care either via telemedicine or in our clinics.
- Telemedicine is a secure and convenient way to see your provider. Nearly all types of visits can be done by telemedicine, including new patient appointments.
- If you need to be seen in the office, we have strong protective meaures in place to keep our patients safe.
- Lab draws are now by appointment, which helps us meet social distancing guidelines in our waiting areas. Watch our How-To video > to see how quick and easy it is to schedule a lab draw!
To reduce the risk of exposure or spread of the virus, we request that all patients being seen in person (clinic or lab) wear a face mask. This follows CDC and local guidelines for wearing a mask in public settings.
At this time, our supply of face masks is still extremely low. While we work to secure additional supplies, we ask that patients who have their own mask please bring it to their appointment. This will help us conserve masks for those who don't have one and keep an adequate supply on hand for our providers and staff.
Your healthcare provider will evaluate your symptoms to determine whether COVID-19 testing is appropriate.
We understand many of our patients and community members are anxious to get tested. Family Care Network providers are following recommended guidelines to test patients with active symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath, or suspected exposure. If you have questions about whether a test is right for you, please contact your clinic for assistance.
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, please call ahead to describe your symptoms BEFORE seeking care in an office, urgent care, or emergency department. Keep yourself separated from other household members as much as possible.
COVID-19 Antibody Testing
It is still unknown what a positive antibody test means for COVID-19. For some viruses, a person with a positive antibody test would be considered “immune” to re-infection, however we do not know if this is the case with COVID-19. Antibody testing provides valuable data for medical research and our understanding of the virus, however it should not be used to change our approach to the pandemic.
Antibody lab test:
UW Virology released a COVID-19 antibody test that detects coronavirus antibodies in individuals who have been exposed to the virus. After careful evaluation, we determined that it meets clinical standards for accuracy and can provide useful clinical information. All FCN providers are now able to order this test for their patients when deemed appropriate.
If you are interested in this test, please follow these recommendations:
- Contact your regular primary care provider to discuss the test and its limitations. Your provider may need to schedule a telephone consult or telemedicine visit with you.
- Contact your insurance company to ask if the test is covered under your specific benefit plan. The cost of the test will likely include both a draw fee and a processing fee.
Family Care Network is committed to providing the best care possible for our patients. Several other antibody tests developed by trusted, nationally recognized lab research facilities are currently in review with the FDA. Local laboratories, such as FCN Lab Services and NW Laboratory, will offer antibody tests when they become available.
Antibody home test kits:
Commercially available test kits, such as those that can be ordered online and performed at home, have not been approved or validated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Initial evaluation of the tests show specificity lower than 50%, with the highest at about 80%. Specificity is the ability to correctly detect the COVID-19 antibody.
This means that home test kits have a high rate of both false positives and false negatives. FCN’s Chief Medical Officer, Jim Hopper MD, recommends waiting for an FDA-approved test. “Any available antibody test kit that can be used at home is – at best – as likely to misidentify prior infection as it is to correctly identify it.”
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 our clinics are safe for all patients to access ongoing medical care.
Our clinics are open. We are employing a variety of precautionary measures to reduce the risk of exposure to patients being seen in person:
- All high-touch surfaces in our facilities are sanitzed multiple times a day, and patient care areas are sanitized between patients.
- All FCN staff wear protective face masks at all times in our clinics and administrative areas.
- Patients may be asked to wait in their car until their appointment time, then they are escorted directly to exam rooms instead of using the waiting room.
- During certain times of the day, appointments may be reserved for high-risk patients (pregnant, elderly, infants, etc.)
- Lab draws are by appointment, to help us meet social distancing guidelines in waiting areas.
To help with our efforts to reduce exposure risk:
- Most exam rooms and lab draw stations are small and do not provide adequate space for social distancing. Patients are asked to come alone to appointments unless assistance is required.
- We respectfully request that patients attend OB check-ups without a partner, unless assistance is absolutely necessary. We wish we could accommodate partners during these visits, however most of our exam rooms are not large enough to practice safe social distancing with additional people present.
- We ask that only one adult attend well child exams or appointment for immunizations.
- If you have a mask, please wear it. Clinics can provide a mask to patients who do not have one.
Seeking care for flu-like or respiratory symptoms:
- Please call ahead for an appointment at your regular primary care clinic. All FCN providers offer visits via telemedicine, a secure and convenient option for virtual healthcare. Telemedicine>>
- After regular clinic hours, call your primary care office to speak with the on-call provider 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 Contact Information>>
- 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 shields, goggles, 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 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.
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. Washington State is currently under a "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order. This includes a statewide stay-at-home order, restrictions on non-essential businesses, school closures, and rules to protect residents of nursing homes and adult family care centers.
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.
- Limit and/or cancel family gatherings, parties, children's play dates, etc.
- Limit non-essential travel and shopping trips.
- Try to keep at least 6 feet from others in public areas.
- Current recommendations for Whatcom County: https://www.whatcomcounty.us/3369/Current-Recommendations-For-Whatcom-Coun#individual
- 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:
- CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Whatcom County Health Department: www.whatcomcounty.us/3329/Novel-Coronavirus-COVID-19
- Skagit County Health Department: www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/HealthDiseases/coronavirus.htm
- Washington State Health Department: www.doh.wa.gov/emergencies/coronavirus
- Washington State Coronavirus Response: https://www.coronavirus.wa.gov/
- World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
For more information about handwashing and other steps you can take to reduce the spread of disease:
- Washington State Department of Health: www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/BePreparedBeSafe/Diseases/GermsPreventTheirSpread
- CDC: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html
- CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/get-your-household-ready-for-COVID-19.html
Other links and information:
- An important message from Rodney Anderson, MD - CEO of Family Care Network (3.16.2020)
- An update on COVID-19 testing at FCN (3.19.2020)
- Rodney Anderson, MD interviewed by KIRO 7 News - limited COVID-19 testing supplies (3.19.2020)
Last updated: 5/27/2020