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            NorthShore’s online source for timely health and wellness news, inspiring patient stories and tips to lead a healthy life.

            Healthy You

            Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

            Monday, March 23, 中国体彩官方app 8:00 AM

            This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and NorthShore will provide updated information as it becomes available.

            We continue to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

            If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, runny nose, difficulty breathing, decreased sense of smell or taste, or muscle aches with flu-like symptoms OR had contact with a person confirmed with COVID-19 infection OR had contact with a person under investigation (someone who has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results), contact our community health hotline at 847.432.5849 or begin an E-Visit through NorthShoreConnect.

            Read our frequently asked questions to learn more about NorthShore's response to COVID-19.

            NorthShore University HealthSystem is closely monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) developments and we are prepared to handle the current situation through enhanced clinical and operational capabilities. We are continually updating our clinical and safety practices to ensure that all of our patients, visitors, staff and the communities we serve receive effective and protected care. The following is a list of frequently asked questions that are beneficial to our valued patients, visitors to our hospitals, Immediate Care sites and Medical Group offices, as well as NorthShore employees.

            COVID-19 General Questions

            What is the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
            COVID-19 is a new virus that causes a respiratory viral syndrome that can range from a mild cold to severe pneumonia. Symptoms include fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, runny nose, difficulty breathing, decreased sense of smell or taste, or muscle aches with flu-like symptoms.

            Is there more than one type of coronavirus?
            Yes, there are 7 kinds of coronavirus, including the one that causes the common cold. Other coronaviruses include SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and COVID-19.

            How is COVID-19 spread?
            It’s believed to spread via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to influenza and other respiratory infections.

            Where has COVID-19 spread?
            Due to the rapidly changing nature of COVID-19, please visit , , or  websites for the latest on the number of confirmed cases and related information in our communities, the United States, and globally.

            Is there a vaccine?
            Currently, there is not a vaccine for COVID-19.

            How can I participate in a COVID vaccine trial?
            NorthShore University HealthSystem is not participating in any COVID-19 vaccine trials at this time.

            Do I need to wear a mask to protect myself?
            We know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms and these individuals could spread the virus when they are in close proximity to others. In light of this new evidence, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. grocery stores, pharmacies) and especially in areas of significant community spread. The mask is not a replacement for social distancing but rather something to use in addition to social distancing and other key preventive measures.

            Are cloth masks a suitable alternative to standard medical masks in the hospital?
            The limited data on cloth masks (many 中国体彩官方appmade from a variety of fabrics/materials) suggest that they are not safe alternatives to standard medical masks in healthcare settings. We are currently not recommending that they be used as a substitute for standard medical masks within our clinical care settings at this time. We have adequate medical masks for individuals within our system to use along with eye protection when working in settings where they are interacting with patients.

            What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 symptoms?
            People with COVID-19 infection typically have one or more of the following symptoms: fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, runny nose, difficulty breathing, decreased sense of smell or taste, or muscle aches with flu-like symptoms OR had contact with a person confirmed for COVID-19 infection OR had contact with a person under investigation (someone who has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results). If you have any of these symptoms and are over 60 years old or have chronic diseases or your immune system is weak, you may be at higher risk for a severe COVID-19 infection. Not all patients with these symptoms or risk factors need COVID-19 testing. If you feel you have COVID-19 symptoms you should:

            1. Call your physician first but please be patient. There may be some delays due to the number of people calling. 
            2. Contact our community health hotline at 847.432.5849. Listen to the choices to guide you to the information you are looking for.
            3. If you’re a NorthShoreConnect user, you may schedule an e-visit.

            If your symptoms are worsening or you think you need emergency services, call 9-1-1 immediately.

            Should everyone with symptoms that could be due to COVID-19 be evaluated and tested?
            As testing has become more available and the clear evidence of community-spread, we have expanded our testing capabilities. Symptomatic individuals who are being prioritized for testing include hospitalized or critically ill patients; individuals in congregate living settings that may be part of a potential cluster of COVID-19; outpatients who are involved in frontline COVID-19 response (healthcare workers in hospital or congregate living settings and public safety workers). Symptomatic individuals could have one of the the or more of the following symptoms: fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, runny nose, difficulty breathing, decreased sense of smell or taste, or muscle aches with flu-like symptoms.

            If you are otherwise healthy with symptoms of fever or respiratory symptoms, please stay 中国体彩官方app, practice social distancing and use supportive care. Supportive care includes rest, fluids, using fever-reducing medications, practicing social distancing.  If you have other questions, please call our community health hotline at 847.432.5849 or schedule an e-visit.

            Should I go to the Emergency Room?
            If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.  
            As it relates to COVID-19: please refer to the “What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 symptoms” above.

            I hear NorthShore has its own COVID-19 test. Can I be tested to see if I have COVID-19?
            We are only providing testing to those patients who meet the CDC and IDPH criteria for testing—which is testing appropriate symptomatic individuals (people with symptoms). We are not routinely testing asymptomatic individuals (people with no symptoms).

            If I test positive for COVID-19 and am then cleared of it, will I get it again?
            Most similar diseases result in immunity, but there is not enough evidence yet to determine if recovery from COVID-19 guarantees immunity from future infection.

            NorthShore Readiness Ahead of Illinois’ COVID-19 April Peak

            Are NorthShore’s hospitals reporting a spike in COVID-19 positive (+) cases?
            NorthShore is experiencing an increase in COVID-19+ patients who need to be hospitalized—this is occurring as Illinois expects cases to peak over the next 1-3 weeks—the remainder of April.

            How prepared is NorthShore to handle current and future patient demand?
            NorthShore has a coordinated plan in place to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been the case since January when we established a group of clinical, administrative and operational leaders to proactively prepare and implement detailed action plans system-wide. This cross-functional team has met and continues to meet daily and reviews the systems, supplies, people, and communication aspects of the pandemic to inform our readiness planning and activities.

            We currently have inpatient and Intensive Care Unit capacity, with plans to broaden capacity—including converting additional clinical areas at our hospitals into enhanced COVID-19 isolation units to accommodate a patient surge, if and when the situation presents itself.

            What plans has NorthShore implemented?
            NorthShore has brought together all of its resources from throughout the system to be prepared to scale as the pandemic evolves. We have mobilized medical and clinical personnel from all specialties—primary care, critical care and emergency medicine, among others. This group includes more than 550 NorthShore physicians of which 250 have volunteered to support inpatient care. In addition, we created a Nursing Labor Pool and a mandatory General Labor Pool comprised of over 800 employees to ensure continuity of staffing across the organization.

            We’ve also established our COVID-19 enhanced Immediate Care Centers in Gurnee, Lake Bluff, Niles and Skokie; activated E-visits through our NorthShoreConnect patient portal; created a drive-through testing site for eligible patients; and addressed patient concerns through our phone triage protocol.

            Is NorthShore able to provide appropriate care for non-COVID-19 patients?
            NorthShore has preparedness plans in place to ensure members of our community who have non-COVID-19 conditions are treated and cared for with the same high standards that the community has come to trust from NorthShore. We have expanded other types of access points to support the practice of social distancing such as phone visits, E-Visits and video visits.

            What about adequate access to NorthShore’s Emergency Departments for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients?
            As a result of our COVID-19 preparedness, NorthShore has been able to successfully keep our Emergency Departments (ED) from becoming flooded with patients. In fact, our ED volume is down from its historic figures, which is encouraging news.

            What is a negative pressure room or environment?
            A negative pressure/airflow environment is an isolation measure used in hospitals to prevent cross-contamination from room to room of any airborne potential contaminants (coughs or sneezes). Negative pressure rooms achieve this through a HVAC system which is sensitive to the direction of air flow. Eliminating the recirculation of potential contaminated room air and paying close attention to the direction of air flow creates a safer environment for our caregivers and for everyone in our hospitals.

            What is NorthShore’s action plan to identify COVID-19 patients for inpatient status?
            Our dedicated COVID-19 medical team first determines if a case should be admitted under our COVID action plan. If so, proper steps are then taken to ensure a seamless and safe transition to the appropriate hospital. Our in-house testing capabilities allow us to determine whether COVID-19 is the cause of the patient’s respiratory infection in a timely way.

            Due to the pandemic, is NorthShore “prioritizing” care based on a patient’s age, health history or odds of potentially not recovering from COVID-19?
            During these challenging times, please know that we are working diligently and tirelessly to provide safe, effective and protective care for all our patients, employees and the communities we serve. Our dedicated COVID-19 medical teams are caring for each individual patient to determine the best course of treatment given their symptoms and health history.

            NorthShore’s Designated COVID-19 Hospital

            Is it true that Glenbrook Hospital will serve as the COVID-designated hospital for inpatients?
            On April, 1, 中国体彩官方app, Glenbrook Hospital was temporarily converted into our fever and respiratory infection hospital where we are admitting patients with likely COVID-19 infection. As needed, we also are admitting these patients to Evanston Hospital depending on the volume and capacity at Glenbrook.

            Why was Glenbrook Hospital chosen as the system’s COVID-designated hospital?
            When we began our system-wide preparation and response efforts, we selected Glenbrook to be our COVID-dedicated hospital because of its physical configuration and capacity to adjust the airflow in large portions of the building to most safely accommodate patients critically ill with COVID-19.

            Is Glenbrook Hospital operationally prepared to serve as a COVID-19 hospital?
            Glenbrook is fully prepared to care for COVID-19 inpatients. We have worked extensively to convert and expand clinical areas—including our Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Emergency Department and an inpatient unit—into whole-unit negative pressure environments which are best for the sickest patients being treated for COVID-19.

            If I don’t have COVID-19 symptoms but a different health concern that requires emergency attention, can I still come to the Emergency Department?
            The Glenbrook Emergency Department will be available to treat the wide range of clinical conditions as usual. We have additional contingency plans in place should we need to convert our Emergency Department space into an extension of the ICU. This would be facilitated by the Emergency Department’s capability for a negative pressure environment for COVID care. If that were to happen, we would relocate our Emergency Department for non-COVID health matters to another part of the pavilion. This planning is underway.

            Where will all non-COVID inpatients, currently at Glenbrook, be transferred and future potential inpatients?
            On April 1, 中国体彩官方app, Glenbrook began transferring all non-COVID inpatients who needed ongoing hospitalization to Highland Park Hospital and Evanston Hospital —depending on bed availability and the patient’s clinical condition.

            How will Glenbrook Hospital inpatients who don’t have COVID-19 be transferred?
            We are working with area ambulance and transport services to make sure all patient transfers are seamless and safe.

            Is the COVID action plan at Glenbrook Hospital permanent?
            Glenbrook Hospital’s clinical capabilities will remain in place for future needs should we experience another event of this magnitude. However, once the current pandemic passes, Glenbrook will return to its usual function and services.

            What is NorthShore’s action plan to identify COVID-19 patients for inpatient status?
            Our dedicated COVID-19 medical team first determines if a case should be admitted under our COVID action plan. If the patient is deemed COVID-eligible for inpatient care, appropriate steps will be taken to ensure a seamless and safe transition to the appropriate hospital. Our in-house testing capabilities allow us to determine whether COVID-19 is the cause of the patient’s respiratory infection in a timely way.

            Is there a visitor restriction policy at Glenbrook now that it’s the COVID-dedicated hospital?
            We understand your concern about wanting to be with loved ones during this challenging time. NorthShore has implemented a visitor restriction policy. This action is being taken for the health, safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff. Please read our current visitor policy information letter.

            NorthShore Patient Plan

            Is NorthShore screening everyone for possible fever or respiratory symptoms or COVID risk factors upon arrival to your hospitals?  
            Yes, everyone is being screened including employees. Due to the expanding COVID-19 emergency, we are screening everyone who enters the hospital to ensure they don’t have COVID-19 symptoms. We are also screening individuals who are coming for in-person visits to our Immediate Care and office locations. Screening includes questions about symptoms, and contact exposure history. 

            • If your temperature is 100 degrees or higher or the answer to any of our screening questions demonstrates that you are at risk for COVID-19 infection, we will not allow you in our acute care pavilions.
            • Please refer to the “What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 symptoms” above.

            We understand how important it is for hospital patients to have the support of loved ones during their stay, but these steps are necessary to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff. We encourage the use of phone based video capabilities such as FaceTime and What’s App.

            Is NorthShore allowing family or friends come to visit loved ones who are hospitalized?
            NorthShore has implemented a visitor restriction policy. We are making rare exceptions on a case by case basis. And any visitor allowed into our pavilions will have to pass our screening assessment. Please read our current visitor policy information letter.  

            Is NorthShore canceling surgeries and procedures? 
            ALL emergency and urgent surgeries and interventional procedures will continue as planned. However, all elective, non-emergency surgeries and procedures are postponed effective immediately and until further notice. This action was taken to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff; and is based on the U.S. Surgeon General directive and the American College中国体彩官方app of Surgeons guidance.

            • If your condition changes, please call your surgeon/physician to have your concerns assessed.
            • If you do not hear from your surgeon’s/physician’s office within the next 3 weeks, please call your surgeon’s/physician’s office directly regarding rescheduling your case.

            If I’m not an established NorthShore patient and/or not active on NorthShoreConnect, and I test positive for COVID-19 while in your Emergency Department, who can provide me with a letter to my employer?
            You will need to contact your doctor and provide a copy of the discharge guidance documents that the Emergency Department provides upon your discharge. Then, please ask your primary care physician, or PCP, to write a letter that outlines the appropriate advice based on how you are doing. If you do not have a PCP, then you will need to contact your Employee Health representative at your place of employment and provide the discharge documents that you received from NorthShore upon your discharge.

            I tested positive for COVID-19 several, days ago, how long before the Illinois Department of Public Health contacts me?
            Unfortunately, we are unable to answer your question. It is best that you contact the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) directly.

            I run a business and an employee tested positive for COVID-19, what should I do?
            It is best to contact your local department of public health. You may also call your city hall or village hall and request to be connected directly with someone in their public health department.

            NorthShore Medical and Pharmaceutical Supply

            Do you have enough medical supplies?
            We are managing our supplies very carefully and sensibly for the protection of our patients and employees, given the worldwide shortages.

            Can I buy supplies like masks and gloves at the hospitals?
            We do not have supplies for purchase at any NorthShore site.

            If I walk in to a NorthShore facility, can I get some supplies for my family?
            No. Our current supplies are for staff use only while caring for patients.

            Does NorthShore have adequate supplies of medication?
            We are not experiencing a shortage of prescription medications. Our pharmacy staff are in contact with our vendors to ensure adequate supplies and are monitoring medication availability for any changes.

            Donations from the Community

            I would like to make a donation to NorthShore to help support the fight against COVID-19. How do I make a contribution?
            NorthShore is appreciative and grateful for the outpouring of support from our community. We are currently accepting financial contributions through a special COVID-19 Response Fund. Click here to make a contribution. We are also accepting donations of select, critical supplies. Learn more about the supplies we need and the process to donate.

            I would like to donate food to NorthShore employees. How do I make a food donation?
            We are also happy to accept food donations for our staff.  Learn more about the process to donate food.

            I have supplies that I would like to donate to NorthShore. How do I make that donation?
            We are currently accepting select, critical supplies. Learn more about the supplies we need and the process to donate. Thank you for your generosity.

            Tips for Everyone to Stay Healthy

            What can I do to protect my health and safety?
            There are several things we can all do to remain safe, healthy and vigilant.

            • Clean your hands often. Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use sanitizer when washing is not available.
            • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you do, please wash your hands.
            • Practice social distancing: 6 feet of distance between people. This means keep space between you and others in public spaces.
            • Avoid contact with people who seem ill.
            • Avoid social gatherings where social distancing cannot be practiced. Use technology such as FaceTime/video communication to keep in touch with loved ones.
            • Please remember that social distancing is essential.
            • Stay 中国体彩官方app if you are sick. Do not return to work until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever without taking fever-reducing medications.
            • Cover your cough or sneeze with tissue or in the crook of your arm; throw away used tissue and wash your hands.

            Where to Get Updated Information

            Where can I find more information about coronavirus?
            You may also access additional information from the following sites:

            • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 
            • Illinois Department of Public Health:  
            • World Health Organization: