- Masks required >>
- Getting needed medical care >>
- COVID-19 Testing >>
- COVID-19 Vaccine >>
- Antibody testing >>
- Keeping FCN clinics safe >>
- COVID-19 Basics >>
- If you have flu-like symptoms >>
- Resources >>
Masks required in Family Care Network facilities
On May 13, the CDC and Washington state released new guidelines removing the mask requirement for fully vaccinated people in certain indoor and outdoor settings. Healthcare facilities are not included in this change, and organizations can still legally require customers to wear masks.
Family Care Network will continue to require a mask in our clinics for staff and patients regardless of vaccination status. We will also continue with other precautions to reduce the risk of transmission (cleaning protocols, social distancing, etc.).
FCN may consider future changes to our policy. This decision will be based on a thorough review and understanding of the health and safety implications to our staff and patients. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation with our masking policy.
Getting needed medical care
Don't put off medical care -- your health is too important!
As a patient of Family Care Network, you can access care 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 with social distancing 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 and spread of the virus, all patients being seen in person (clinic or lab) are required to wear a face mask regardless of vaccine status.
This is in accordance with updated CDC and Washington state guidelines that require a mask in healthcare facilities.
If you have a medical reason for not wearing a mask, either call ahead or let our staff know upon your arrival that you will need special accommodation.This may include waiting in an alternate location until it is time to provide care, such as outside, in a vehicle, or in an empty exam room. If needed, patients can be brought through an alternate entrance to reduce the risk of exposure in the waiting room. Depending on the reason for the visit, care can sometimes be provided while the patient remains in their car.
We encourage patients who have their own mask to 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.
If you are an FCN patient and think you need a COVID-19 test, please read this first: COVID-19 Testing Information for FCN patients >>
A visit is required for an FCN provider to place an order for COVID-19 testing. Testing is typically performed at an FCN location. Patients with an order can also schedule a COVID-19 test at NW Laboratory in Bellingham.
COVID-19 testing is available in Whatcom and Skagit County without an order from a healthcare provider. Learn more here:
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 Vaccine - updated 8/4/2021
If you have questions about COVID vaccine, please contact your primary care clinic. The COVID vaccine phone scheduling line and drive-through vaccination site are now closed.
Finding vaccine elsewhere:
We strongly recommend getting a COVID vaccine to protect yourself and others from this virus. Multiple local healthcare organizations, pharmacies and health departments offer COVID vaccine. Local health departments are also holding pop-up vaccination clinics in various locations each week. Check pharmacy and/or health department websites, or the Department of Health Vaccine Locator for more information.
"Booster" vaccine doses
We are seeing an increase in questions from our fully vaccinated patients about additional doses of COVID vaccine. At this time, it is not recommended to administer COVID vaccine beyond what has been approved by the CDC and FDA:
- Two shots at specified intervals for Moderna and Pfizer
- One shot for Janssen (J&J)
All available vaccines at their current dosage are believed to offer exceptional protection from serious illness or hospitlaization from COVID, including the newly emerging delta variant. It is very important to get available doses to individuals who are not vaccinated, as they are at the highest risk if exposed to COVID.
The CDC continues to collect data to provide the best guidance for managing our ongoing response to the COVID virus. FCN actively monitors this information and will update our recommendations to patients if/when needed.
What to expect after vaccination:
Side effects from a COVID vaccine generally occur within two days and last about a day. Not all people experience side effects; those that have been reported include:
- Injection site reactions: pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, swelling (hardness), and localized rash/redness
- General side effects: fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea and vomiting, and fever
There is a remote chance that a COVID vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. For this reason, patients are asked to remain at the location where they receive their vaccine for 15 minutes for monitoring. We recommend that patients with a history of severe reaction to vaccines schedule an appointment at a clinic location (not our drive-through) to support additional monitoring.
Complete vaccine information is available on the CDC website.
To help track side effects, the CDC offers v-safe, a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Participation in v-safe is optional. To register, go to vsafe.cdc.gov.
General vaccine info:
Please check the CDC website for up-to-date vaccine information regarding safety, benefits, the different vaccines being considered, and how the CDC is making recommendations for vaccination.
The Washington State Department of Health website also posts current information about vaccines, or you can call their COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 1-800-525-0127.
COVID-19 Antibody Testing
An antibody test detects coronavirus antibodies in individuals who have been exposed to the virus. It is 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 true for 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 testing at FCN:
FCN providers are able to order a COVID-19 IgG antibody 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.
Keeping FCN clinics safe:
We work hard to ensure our clinics are safe for all patients to access ongoing medical care. We use a variety of precautionary measures to reduce the risk of exposure to patients being seen in person, including careful cleaning protocols, face masks, and social distancing.
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. Appointments are for the patient only, unless assistance is required or the patient is a minor child.
- We ask that only one adult attend well child exams and/or appointments for immunizations.
- Patients with respiratory symptoms may be asked to wait in their car until their appointment time, then be escorted directly to exam rooms instead of using the waiting room.
- State guidelines require that all patients, visitors, staff and providers wear a mask while in the clinic. Clinics can provide a mask to patients who do not have one. Patients not wearing a mask will be asked to wait in their car or outside until they can be escorted directly to a room.
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, sore throat, runny nose, 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 you have arrived.
- 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.
COVID-19 is a new strain of a respiratory coronavirus. It has symptoms similar to the flu or other upper respiratory illness: fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, runny nose, etc.
The best way to control the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccincated. 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. Until you are fully vaccinated, it is best to restrict close interactions with other people and wear a mask in public places.
People without symptoms can be infected with the virus, which means they can unknowingly spread it to others. Check with state and county health departments for restrictions on businesses, schools, and public gatherings.
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 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 after-hours on-call provider, will evaluate your symptoms and advise you on the best course of action. We may be able to treat you over the phone. FCN After-Hours Contact Info >>
- 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.
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/
Last updated: 719/2021