Family Care Network's response to COVID-19

Take Care During COVID-19

Revised Safe Start Plan for Washington

All counties in Washington state are subject to restricted public health measures. Beginning January 11, a new regional-based Healthy Washington plan went into effect. All regions begin in Phase 1. Each week, regions will be evaluated to see if they meet the criteria for moving to Phase 2. Learn more at the links below.

Washington State released a new smartphone app called WA Notify that alerts users if they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Learn more about the app and how to add it to your phone on the Department of Health website. WA Notify app >>

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!

Schedule Lab Appointment


Face masks:

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. 

How to keep a cloth face mask clean >>
 

COVID-19 Testing

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 >>

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. Testing is typically performed at an FCN location. Patients with an order can also schedule a COVID-19 test at NW Laboratory in Bellingham. 

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.
 

COVID-19 Vaccine - updated 2/22/2021

When new or different information is added to this section, the date shown above will be updated. 

NEW :

No new appointments will be opened for scheduling this week due to limited vaccine allocation from the state. We will provide 24 hours advance notice on our website if/when we are able to open appointments for scheduling next week. We plan to make an announcement by end of day Monday, March 1.

Despite shipping delays, we are pleased to report that all scheduled appointments this week will proceed as planned. If you have questions about your scheduled appointment, please call the vaccine scheduling line at (360) 733-1342.

A small number of same-day appointments may be available this week. Please review the information below for details. Same-day appointments >>

 Please review our updated COVID Vaccine FAQs >> and the information below to see if your questions are answered before calling your clinic.

It will take several more weeks – possibly months – before we see significant improvement in vaccine allocation. In the meantime, it is important to continue taking necessary precautions to reduce the risk of transmission in our communities.

  • Wear a mask
  • Watch your distance
  • Limit social gatherings with people outside your household
  • Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer

Lend your voice. It may help for the state to hear from our patients how the small allocation of COVID vaccine to FCN (and our region) is impacting your health and well being. Learn how to contact your local and state representatives at www.usa.gov.   

      Quick links:

      Making an appointment:

      COVID vaccine appointments are for established, eligible FCN patients only.

      When the next round of appointments are available, we will provide 24 hours advance notice through our website and social media updates, so patients can prepare for self-scheduling. The number of vaccine appointments is based on the quantity of vaccine received through the state allocation process, which is currently very limited.

      Patients have two options to schedule a COVID vaccine:

      ONLINE: covidvaccine.fcn.net

      BY PHONE: (360) 733-1342

      • All appointments are booked online by the patient or by calling the COVID vaccine scheduling line.
      • Appointments will open for scheduling at the exact time announced.
      • If no appointments are showing, all appointments are full and/or no appointments are available due to lack of supply. With our current allocation, we are not able to run vaccine clinics every day and/or at every location.
      • There is not an alternate way to get an appointment through your provider or clinic. FCN is not keeping a waiting list.

      Second doses: If a patient receives their first dose at FCN, second dose appointments are scheduled on behalf of the patient following the first dose appointment. The state recommends getting a second dose from the same provider as the first dose.

      Limited same-day appointments for “extra” doses:

      Occasionally an extra dose can be drawn from a vial of COVID vaccine. We will offer same-day appointments if we have extra doses, ONLY on days we are running vaccine clinics. Same-day appointments will be very limited (5-15 appointments max); if no extra doses can be drawn from vials used during a vaccine clinic, same-day appointments will not be available.

      All same-day appointments are scheduled by phone ONLY at (360) 733-1342. Phones open for same-day scheduling at the following days/times:

      • Tues. Feb. 23 – 2 pm
      • Weds. Feb. 24 – 3 pm
      • Thurs. Feb. 25 – 2 pm

      *Phones are closed for 30 minutes prior to same-day scheduling.

      Once phone lines are opened, calls will be answered in the order received. If you get a busy signal, it means all phone lines are full. Please try calling back. Please note that FCN clinics can’t schedule same-day COVID vaccine appointments. 

      Appointments (if available) will be at the clinic location where the extra dose is drawn. If you are scheduled for a same-day appointment, you must agree to receive Dose 2 at the Bellingham Drive-Thru location. No exceptions.

      Additional days for same-day appointments will be added when we confirm future vaccine clinics.

      To reschedule an existing appointment:

      Follow the link provided in your confirmation email, or call the vaccine scheduling line at (360) 733-1342. We will do our best to accommodate change requests, but please be aware that appointment slots are very limited.

      COVID vaccine eligibility:

      Washington State recently added a new eligibility group, Phase 1B-Tier 1 (age 65 and older and age 50 and older in a multigenerational household), in addition to Phase 1A.

      Please verify your eligibility using the state Department of Health PhaseFinder online questionnaire. You may be asked to show proof of eligibility at the time of your vaccination.

      Vaccine supply at FCN:

      FCN is enrolled in the state distribution program to receive the Moderna vaccine. 

      Each week FCN submits a request for vaccine, then the state determines our allocation. As soon as vaccine physically arrives at FCN, we can create appointment schedules according to the quantity received. We will provide 24 hours’ notice when appointments will open for scheduling (see Appointment information, above).

      On January 26, the state began emphasizing distribution to mass vaccination sites and to pharmacies in locations without a mass vaccination site (such as Whatcom and Skagit County). The state has denied our requests for first dose allocation since late January. 

      FCN’s limited allocation prevents us from opening more appointments. We are cautiously optimistic that the upcoming increase in vaccine distribution from the federal government to the state of Washington will result in a greater allocation to Family Care Network. When we start receiving adequate supply, we are prepared to vaccinate 2,500-3,000 patients per week at dedicated vaccine clinics in all our primary care locations and a drive-through site in Bellingham.

      Finding vaccine elsewhere:

      Other local healthcare organizations and health departments may offer COVID vaccine. Check their websites or the Department of Health Vaccine Locator for more information. Mass vaccination sites led by Whatcom and Skagit County are separate from FCN; appointments are scheduled through their systems. Please check their websites for more information and updates:

      What to expect after vaccination:

      Side effects from the Moderna 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 the Moderna 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. Patients with a history of severe reaction to vaccines should only schedule an appointment at a clinic location (not our drive-through) to support additional monitoring.

      Complete vaccine information is available on the Moderna website or can be downloaded in this PDF.

      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:

        lease 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. CDC Vaccine Info >>

        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.

        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 basics:

        • 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:

         

        Last updated: 2/15/2021