- 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 >>
- Reducing the spread of disease >>
- Resources >>
Safe Start Plan for Washington
On Friday, June 5, Whatcom and Skagit County were approved for Phase 2 of the Safe Start re-opening plan for Washington. Temporary restrictions on certain activities were added on Nov. 16. Learn more at the links below.
Getting needed medical care
Don't put off medical care -- your health is too important! All our clinics are open and 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 and 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.
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.
At this time, our supply of face masks is still 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.
Family Care Network providers are following recommended guidelines to test patients with active COVID symptoms (such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.), or suspected exposure.
Family Care Network patients can contact their regular provider to schedule a visit (in person or via telemedicine). If you are not a patient of Family Care Network, you can see a provider at one of our Urgent Care locations or through our On-Demand Telemedicine service. A visit is required for an FCN provider to place an order for COVID-19 testing.
Drive through COVID-19 testing is available in Whatcom and Skagit County and does not require 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.
A COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available. Federal, state and local governments are developing a vaccination plan for when a safe, effective vaccine is approved. Please check the CDC website for up-to-date vaccine information. CDC Vaccine Info >>
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.
COVID-19 IgG Antibody Test - Patient Fact Sheet >>
COVID-19 IgG Antibody Test - Provider Fact Sheet >>
Antibody home test kits:
Commercially available home testing kits, such as those that can be ordered online, 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:
We are working 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:
- All high-touch surfaces in our facilities are sanitzed multiple times a day, and patient care areas are sanitized between patients.
- All FCN staff and patients 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 be 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. 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.
- Non-essential guests who arrive to the clinic with a scheduled patient may be asked to wait outside or in their car.
- State guidelines require that all patients 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, 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: 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 and wear a mask in public places. 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.
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. Check with your local county health department 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.
To reduce the spread of disease:
- Restrict your activities outside the home and limit 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.
- Wear a mask when you leave your home. Try to keep at least 6 feet from others in public places.
- 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.
- Regularly clean high-touch surfaces.
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
Last updated: 11/25/2020