We are happy to announce that we have reached out to our entire adult patient population to ensure that they are aware of the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19. We have been able to provide over 100 doses of vaccine ourselves and connect many patients to resources to get successfully vaccinated elsewhere. If you have not yet been vaccinated or boosted and desire to do so, we want our patients to know about where to sign up to get the vaccine now that our supply is gone. Many of the listed sites are offering the primary series and the vaccine boosters without an appointment. Some sites are offering the vaccine for children ages 6 months and up and the booster for children ages 5 years and up.
The best resource is the Maine CDC website at http://www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites.
As of January 17, 2023, the most local options are:
- Southern Maine Health Care walk-in Clinic in Waterboro with walk-in availability M-F 8-4 and in Sanford and Saco with walk-in availability 8am to 7pm daily.
- Bridgton Hospital call 207-520-2917.
- Community Pharmacy Gorham call 839-7892.
- Northern Light Home Care and Hospice call 800-757-3326.
- Hannaford pharmacy (Waterboro, Biddeford, Buxton, Bridgton, Sanford, South Portland, Standish) visit https://www.hannaford.com/pharmacy/covid-19-vaccine
- Nasson Health Care (Sanford) with walk-in availability 9-4 on weekdays or call 490-6900.
- Southern Maine Health Care (Biddeford) call the MaineHealth Vaccine Assistant at 877-780-7545.
- Southern Maine Health Care Walk-in (Sanford 8am-7pm, Waterboro 8am-4pm M-F, Saco 8am-7pm).
- Walmart pharmacy (Biddeford, Sanford, Scarborough) visit www.walmart.com/COVIDvaccine
- Walgreen’s pharmacy by appointment only (Cornish, Buxton, Gorham, Sanford, Springvale, Biddeford, Bridgton, Scarborough) visit Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine or call 1-800-Walgreens.
COVID-19 Prescription Treatment Access
According to the Maine CDC website, COVID-19 treatment is highly effective at preventing a mild or moderate illness from progressing to becoming severe and life-threatening. Treatment is available for unvaccinated individuals, adults age 50 and older and for other people at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, such as those who are immunocompromised, have chronic lung or kidney disease, have diabetes, or who smoke (For full list, see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html ). It does not replace vaccination.
COVID-19 treatment works best if started within the first 5–7 days after symptoms begin. Treatment is only available for people with COVID-19 symptoms and a positive COVID-19 test, which can include an at-home test. A doctor needs to determine if you are eligible for treatment, and while Drs. David and Kathryn are qualified to prescribe medication, testing cannot be done at our facility, some of the medications require additional lab testing or pharmacy oversight that we cannot provide, and we cannot guarantee that you will be able to get a prescribed medication filled as the number of pharmacies who carry the medications are limited. We highly recommend going to a state designated “Test-to-Treat” location where anyone can go to get tested, be seen by a medical provider, and get treated, with access to medication guaranteed, if deemed appropriate.
Visit https://www.maine.gov/covid19/treatment/where-to-get-treated to find a provider nearest you and contact that location for more information before going. As of January 17, 2023, the closest area Test-to-Treat locations are:
- Bridgton Hospital in Bridgton at 330-7352
- Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland at 204-8551
- Southern Maine Health Care Walk-in clinics in Waterboro, Sanford, Kennebunk and Saco at 866-722-5165
- Convenient MD Urgent Care in Saco at 751-7991
- Convenient MD Urgent Care in Sanford at 850-5744
- Maine Health Spring Street Health and Infusion Center at 396-7300
Vaccines have improved things a lot, but the COVID-19 virus is changing, and there are still a number of things we all need to do. The doctors continue to evaluate emerging information to answer your questions. Throughout the pandemic we at Galbraith Family Medicine, LLC, (GFM) have been open and continuing to serve our patients’ needs. At the outset we were doing most of our visits via tele-health using Doxy.me, an easy-to-use, secure platform to meet with patients virtually. We still use this tool, but we are seeing an increase in patient visits at our office as people are seeking care that had been put on hold due to the pandemic. As more people walk through our doors, GFM wants you to know what additional safety measures we have been taking to protect our patients and staff.
- 1. Using tele-health for appointments that lend themselves to a visit requiring little physical examination like lab result reviews or mental health concerns in order to limit the number of people in our building at any given time.
- 2. Conveying to patients ahead of their visit to call to reschedule an appointment if they have developed COVID-like symptoms and need to quarantine or if they have had a significant exposure to COVID.
- 3. Asking screening questions ahead of an acute appointment that may increase our suspicion of higher than average COVID-19 risk and encouraging these patients to either stay home until they feel better or ask them to wait in a special waiting area designated for patients who are ill in order to minimize any potential spread of contagion.
- 4. As the need arises, asking patients to wait in their car until we are ready to room them to avoid close contact in a sometimes busier than expected waiting room.
- 1. Staff self-screen each day before starting work for any symptoms suggesting illness. Anyone with a fever or symptoms of illness that could be COVID-19 is sent home to recover before returning to work.
- 2. Staff are required to wear masks when they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance between themselves and patients.
- 3. As always, handwashing is required by staff before and after any care of a patient, after handling lab specimens, and anytime she thinks it is appropriate to do so to prevent infection. Hand sanitizer is also available in every exam room and throughout the office to encourage frequent use.
- 1. GFM has a designated waiting area with its own entrance for patients who are ill to minimize the risk of spread of infection. Our usual waiting room as one enters the front door is designated for routine appointments and those who are feeling well.
- 2. Tape markings have been laid on the floor at the receptionist window to encourage patients to maintain 6-foot distancing while waiting to check in or check out.
- 3. Unnecessary, frequently handled items that may increase the spread of infection such as magazines have been temporarily removed from our waiting rooms and exam rooms.
- 4. While our waiting room and exam rooms have always been cleaned and disinfected throughout the day, additional cleaning measures have been taken including more frequent wiping down of the waiting room; thorough and repeated disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces throughout the office like door handles, chair arms and pens; and enhancing our wipe-down and disinfecting of exam rooms between patients. Our contracted cleaning service uses EPA-registered antimicrobial products proven to kill COVID-19.
- 5. Hand sanitizer, face masks, and Kleenex have been placed throughout the office for easy access by patients for their use.
SAFE RETURN TO NORMAL VISITS
- 1. As more people get vaccinated we are looking at how we can continue to return to normal visits safely. With this in mind we are following CDC guidelines that allow for fully vaccinated individuals to visit in close proximity without masks. A fully vaccinated individual is defined as someone who has had all necessary initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine for 14 days or more. You do not need to have had a booster to be considered fully vaccinated. Because the physicians have been fully vaccinated, you may choose, ONCE YOU ARE IN YOUR EXAM ROOM, to remove your mask for your visit with the provider. We still ask that masks be worn in public areas like the waiting room and hallways.
- 2. We are asking all our patients to provide a copy of their COVID-19 immunization card for their medical record.
- 3. We continue to monitor closely the current situation and make adjustments as needed to keep all patients and staff safe while we emerge from this challenging pandemic.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- 1. Alert us ahead of your visit if you develop any symptoms suggesting COVID-19 or if you have been in close contact with someone proven to have the infection.
- 2. We encourage you to wear a mask in public areas of our facility especially if you cannot maintain 6 feet of distance between you and other people, including staff.
- 3. Wash your hands frequently or use provided hand sanitizer.
- 4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a Kleenex or your elbow and then discard the Kleenex and wash your hands.
- 5. Provide us a copy of your completed COVID-19 immunization card for your medical record.
- 6. Be kind. We truly are in this together and can make it easier by helping one another.
By Kathryn Galbraith, M.D.
It’s that time of year again, when, along with falling snow, colder temperatures and shorter days, catching a cold or the flu becomes more likely. Both illnesses are caused by viruses, but the flu can be more severe than a cold and cause more complications, such as pneumonia. For the flu, there are antiviral medicines available to help shorten the illness and minimize complications, but for the common cold, there is only supportive measures to help symptoms while the body fights the virus. Telling the difference between the two can be very helpful in getting better, but that is not always easy as symptoms can be similar.
Continue reading “Cold and Flu Season is Here”