UPDATES


* IF YOU ARE COMING INTO THE OFFICE FOR ANY REASON, YOU MUST FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES. THANK YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING!

 

May 14, 2020

We are continuing to offer appointments with telehealth options via phone call or secure video call.  If you are coming into the office, for any reason, Birmingham Allergy & Asthma Specialists asks that you wear a face covering; this applies to both patients and guardians. A cloth mask that covers your nose and your mouth is fine in the office, if: 1) you are coming for an allergy shot, 2) you are NOT sick, and 3) you have not had any exposure to someone with COVID-19. If you are sick, you will be provided a surgical mask and gloves before you are allowed into the building. 

For allergy shots, we do still require you to schedule an appointment. There are a reserved number of shot times spaced out through the day, so please call at least 2-3 days before the time you are trying to come into the office. For your safety, you must stay in the waiting room (not your car) after your shot. Shot hours are by appointment only and remain booked one week at a time until further notice. 

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding! Be smart and stay safe!

 

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April 14, 2020

In keeping with the latest CDC guidelines to help prevent the transmission of Coronavirus by people who have COVID-19 but lack any symptoms or are pre-symptomatic but shedding virus, Birmingham Allergy & Asthma Specialists is asking that all patients who come into our office to please wear a face covering. If you are coming in for an allergy shot and are not sick and have not had any exposure to someone with COVID-19 in the past two weeks, a cloth mask is fine. If you are coming in the office because you are sick – either for just a sick visit or for us to swab you for COVID-19 – you will be provided a surgical mask and gloves before you are allowed into the building. Due to high cost and utter lack of availability of surgical masks, we will be unable to provide masks to our well patients and allergy shot patients. Thank you for your participation in trying to keep all of us as safe and healthy as possible in this unprecedented time.

 

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March 25, 2020

We just wanted to update you all since our posting on 3/18/2020 regarding the new office policy since the advent of COVID-19. First of all, thank you all for cooperating with us in these strange times. It is a balance of keeping our patients and office safe while taking care of the community’s health needs. We want to assure you that the staff takes their temperature every morning when the come to the office and have strict orders not to come to work if they feel sick or have had any suspect exposure to COVID-19; thankfully, we all have been healthy to this point.

We also want to emphasize with the current policy, we never have anyone in the waiting room other than a healthy allergy shot or biologic injection patient (who had screening questions and a temperature taken) who is waiting out their time. All patients – whether it is for a well, sick or shot visit– all wait in their car, text us when they arrive, have screening questions asked of them and their caregiver before they come in and are led straight to triage and their exam room. This way, we know if any patient or their caregiver needs to be given a mask before they step into our office and none of them are ever sitting in the waiting room except the healthy shot patient. And since the shot patients are now required to have an appointment time, we are able to practice social distancing so there is never more than one or two patients waiting out their time simultaneously. We are encouraging as many patients as possible to keep their existing appointments and make new appointments, but we are changing these to telemedicine phone or video visits. Sick patients are scheduled to come in at the end of the day after the well patients have all left.

We want you to have some sense of comfort that we have implemented measures to keep us all as safe as possible while still providing quality medical care, and urge you not to give up on your allergy care with us. Be safe!

 

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March 18, 2020

The number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, also known as Novel Coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2, continues to increase in the state of Alabama and the rest of the US. For the health of our patients as well as the health of the greater public, it is increasingly important that we practice social distancing, to the greatest extent we are able, while also continuing to provide the best care possible. To meet these goals, we will be instituting a number of changes in our practice operations for the foreseeable future. Although this communication is lengthy, it will answer many of your questions.

 

FOR ALL PATIENTS (INCLUDING ALLERGY SHOT PATIENTS):

Moving forward, we ask that you help us in our efforts to minimize the number of people in our waiting rooms at any given time. We ask that you only be accompanied by no more than one other person (family member, partner, caregiver, etc.). No siblings will be allowed for now. The waiting room chairs have been rearranged to allow the most distance between patients. Additionally, know that we are actively screening all patients prior to and as soon as they arrive in our clinic. Please help us by disclosing your recent travel history, symptoms, and possible exposure to COVID-19 promptly and clearly, beginning when we reach out via telephone for confirmations as well as before you step into the office. This will allow us to determine whether a mask is necessary for you and assess what protection is needed for our providers and staff.

Additionally, in order to keep everyone safe and healthy, we are asking you to text us from your car when you have arrived in the parking lot. The cell phone for Homewood Plaza is 205-940-1839. The cell phone for Beaumont Village is 205-234-6141. These phone numbers are only to be used to text us from your car when you have arrived. We will not respond to any other text messages. Once you have called or texted us from your car, the receptionist will call and ask you and any other person you plan to bring into the office the health screening questions mentioned above. We will then call you back when we are ready for you to come straight in, so you can avoid sitting in the waiting room or signing in. This procedure will apply to allergy shot and biologics patients as well.

Be sure to bring all inhalers and spacers and epinephrine auto injectors to each visit.

 

IMPLEMENTING A TELEHEALTH OPTION:

We are pleased to announce that we have launched a telehealth option for all of our providers. If your insurance permits, any of our providers can do a well or sick visit with you via phone call or video call using the HIPAA-compliant platform Zoom. (Zoom is a free application available for use on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones with a web camera). We can also do a full visit by regular phone if you don’t want to use Zoom. We will be calling patients regarding upcoming appointments to see whether they would like to keep their appointments in person or whether they would rather switch to a telehealth appointment. More details will be provided as we call you. Please note that if you wish to pursue this option, we ask that you have your temperature and heart rate and medication list readily available before you actually speak to the doctor or nurse practitioner. Tips for measuring heart rate can be found here.

 

TESTING FOR COVID-19:

Many are concerned about how they will pursue diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, should they become infected with the virus. We have the capability to test patients for coronavirus and consider doing so a priority at this time. However, it is also our responsibility to provide you with the highest quality and most evidence-based care. “Flu season” continues, and its symptoms are similar to those demonstrated in populations infected with coronavirus thus far. Similarly, allergies tend to flare during the spring season for many of our patients, also exacerbating asthma and respiratory symptoms. Discriminating between these different diagnoses and the anxiety of what surrounds us, as well as sinus infections, strep throat and other viral illnesses, requires thorough and thoughtful care. So, if you begin demonstrating symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or any other flu-like symptoms, we ask that you call our office first so that we may determine how to best proceed. Know that we are working diligently to answer our phones and check messages regularly during this time. When you call us with symptoms, we will likely schedule a “visit” via telephone or Zoom, during which we can perform a thorough history. If testing is warranted, we will schedule you for an in-office visit at either location as our schedule allows and bring you in for the appropriate testing. Once again, you will call/text us from you car when you arrive so as not to be in the waiting room and risk exposing others.

 

PATIENTS ON ALLERGY SHOTS AND BIOLOGICS:

We remain committed to continuing your immunotherapy during this time while also mitigating risk of infection. Moving forward, we will be implementing a new scheduling system for our shot patients in an effort to decrease the number of people in the waiting room waiting their post-shot time. Beginning on March 23, you will not be able to receive a shot without an appointment. There will be plenty of times available (and you will most likely to be able to get an appointment on the same day you call), but it is safer for all patients if we control how many people are in the waiting room at any given time. We will also have extra Shot Hours available at the Beaumont Village location, so Homewood patients might consider having their vials moved during this time. Additionally, every shot patient will be asked questions regarding travel history and virus exposure, and every patient will have their temperature taken. As always, shots will not be given to patients who demonstrate symptoms of illness.

 

LETTER-WRITING / FORMS POLICY:

Unlike most other physician offices, we have put off charging our patients for letters and forms for the longest time. Unfortunately, we will now be charging a $10 fee to write a letter and to complete each individual form (a set of school forms is one charge). If you need these forms within 24 hours, there will be an additional $25 fee. We are sorry for this inconvenience.

 

We encourage everyone to diligently wash your hands for 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer, avoid touching your face, disinfect surfaces, practice social distancing, and remain careful yet calm. We also encourage you to stay informed by consulting reliable resources:

As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to us at 205-943-1197. Additionally, follow-us on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or check back here for continuous updates and Pop-Up Shot Hours added at Beaumont Village. Thank you for your patience, cooperation, and flexibility during this unprecedented time. We truly appreciate the trust you have placed in us as we continue to take care of you and your family – past, present and future.

 

Clara K. Chung, MD, MPH

Carol A. Smith, MD

Susan Wells, Practice Manager

■ Homewood Plaza • 3125 Independence Drive, Suite 100 • Homewood, Alabama 35209
■ Beaumont Village • 254 Inverness Center Drive • Hoover, Alabama 35242
P: 205-943-1197    F: 205-879-2995