image of coronavirus molecule

BREAKING NEWS FOR LA/OC/RIVERSIDE county residents – Caduceus Medical Group will now be offering Coronavirus COVID-19 curbside testing and medical travel clearances.

A few COVID-19 facts:

• The virus is NOT slowing down. A month ago the WHO (World Health Organization) was publishing 1000 new cases a day. Two weeks ago, 2000. As of this morning, WHO announced 4627 NEW cases in the last 24 hours..

• Please ignore posts on social and news media comparing Covid-19 to the “flu” which had more cases and deaths this year. There are 3-4 strains of the flu, all lumped into one statistic. Covid-19 is ONE strain of coronavirus and appears to be a very different strain.

• Also the seasonal flu season is over and generally ends of February. Covid-19 appears to be just getting started, unless, as we are all hoping, the warmer spring weather kills it off.

• The biggest difference is that it is easy to test for the flu. Standard swabs are available at most urgent cares and emergency rooms across the country and the world. Since patients typically feel sicker with the flu, they are more likely to be seen and get a diagnosis. Covid-19 can start with milder symptoms and until very recently there was NO easy way to test for it; we are seeing a definitive UNDER-reporting as to the number of new cases and fatalities. Some authorities are estimating the number may be being miscalculated by at least TEN fold; in other words, the total may have actually been 39,000 in NEW cases today alone.

What makes this virus so different?

• During the 14 day incubation period an infected person can spread it even exhibiting NO symptoms. That is very unusual for most viruses.

• It appears to be VERY easy to “catch.” Very casual contact can spread Covid-19 where as most other viruses need a form of closer contact.

As CMO, I am taking this opportunity to announce two new initiatives.

1. Clearance letter for airline travel-

Many airlines and resorts are requiring a “clearance letter”. A swab is unnecessary. The clearance letter requested asks the medical provider attest the patient is healthy, asymptomatic, and has experienced no recent fevers. The patient should have no known exposure to viral diseases and a normal physical exam.  Caduceus will do these clearances on a walk-in basis at two locations- PDQ Orange and Caduceus on Thalia in Laguna Beach. Since clearances are not covered by third parties, Caduceus will charge an affordable cash price of $69 for this visit. If a blood test, such as a CBC (complete blood count) is needed, a $20 charge may be assessed.

2. COVID-19 (coronavirus) curbside testing-

Local labs such as LabCorp and Quest are now offering the kits for testing for Covid-19. As you can imagine, they have been swamped with calls, but here is what we can report as of Thursday, March 12th.

• Caduceus has ordered and received swab kits from both Labcorp and Quest.  These kits are in short supply and being rationed; we will reorder when the stock has been depleted and cannot guarantee delivery dates.  Priority will be given to those patients determined by the provider that are good candidates for the COVID-19 swab that arrange for a video visit in lieu of coming in to an office location.

• The labs do NOT want patients to come to their draw stations. They will run tests only ordered by a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner.

• Governor Gavin Newsom has announced these tests will be free of any cost sharing. In other words, FREE.  There will be no co-pay, co-insurance, or applied to a deductible for running the test.

• This new rule applies to all commercial insurance plans, both HMO and PPO, as well as MediCal. It does not apply to Medicare patients.

• The labs do not know the cost but will bill your insurance. Any payment billed to the patient will be from the lab, not Caduceus. The patient should NOT receive a bill. Any dispute on the “free” testing should be directed to the Department of Insurance or Managed Health Care. Caduceus only performs the swab.

• The labs and health department will NOT run tests for patients without symptoms; there are simply insufficient kits. Caduceus providers will also abide by this protocol and will only do the swab on patients with symptoms or findings consistent with a viral illness.

• We are directing ALL patients WITH SYMPTOMS (fever, coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath) to our PDQ Orange urgent care for North County patients and Caduceus on Thalia in Laguna Beach for South County patients. NO appointment necessary.

• A curbside video visit from your mobile device in your vehicle will be required to be swabbed for Covid-19. This will be billed as a standard office visit, subject to co-pays and/or deductibles, and we also offer a cash price option.

• If you are doing a walk-in, please text or call PDQ Orange (714-287-0459) or the Laguna Beach office (949-482-9699) and let the staff know you are in the parking lot and are wanting the Covid-19 swab. A staff member will be out to assist you.  If you prefer to do the visit in-office, let the staff know and they will escort you to a room.

• The estimated time for results is 3-4 days. They will be emailed to you directly through the secure patient portal.

Since we can only provide the Covid-19 to swab patients with symptoms and we feel ALL patients with symptoms should stay home, the swab is not useful for the clearance letter. These are two separate and distinctive initiatives we are offering for our patients and the community.

If you aren’t sure you qualify for the Covid- 19 swab, consider doing a same day video visit from the comfort of your home, office, or other location. You can message your physician through the patient portal or email your physician a medical question via [email protected].

Follow us on Facebook@caduceusmedical and also make sure you are on our email list for regular coronavirus updates.  If you are not receiving our emails, request patient support to be added at [email protected].