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Keeping You Safe during COVID-19

Roper St. Francis Healthcare is closely monitoring the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The safety of our patients, teammates and physicians is our number one priority. Our leadership and infection prevention teams are meeting regularly to assess the latest developments, prepare our care teams and review the latest DHEC and CDC guidelines to monitor patient symptoms across all of our facilities.

Nurse with mask

 

 

Vaccination Eligibility and Scheduling

Beginning March 8, people in Phase 1b will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Those eligible include anyone age 55 and over, frontline workers with increased occupational risk, and those with increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.

Currently, we are not receiving enough vaccine to meet the demand of Phase 1a and do not know if we will be receiving additional vaccine to accommodate this expansion. We have temporarily paused scheduling patients for COVID-19 vaccination first dose appointments due to these supply issues.

Those in the Phase 1b category can call (843) 727-DOCS (3627) to be placed on a waiting list for vaccinations through Roper St. Francis Healthcare's vaccination drive-thru. To locate other vaccine providers, please visit scdhec.gov/vaxlocator or call DHEC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line at 1 (866) 365-8110

 

Drive-thru Vaccinations

The COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru is located at the North Charleston Coliseum. Patients will need to enter from International Blvd. and then drive into the parking garage to receive the vaccine from the comfort of their vehicles. As a precaution, those receiving the vaccine will be required to remain in their vehicles for 15 minutes after getting the vaccine to ensure no adverse side effects. Providers will be on-site and ready to treat anyone experiencing a reaction.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Q&A - General Public

We are in an exciting and hopeful step in combating the pandemic. We are working closely with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and other state and federal agencies to offer the vaccine.

We anticipate the vaccine being available to the general community in Spring 2021. This is dependent on how much of the vaccine become available and how much Roper St. Francis Healthcare is allotted. Our Community Health department is in the process of gathering data to engage with community education around the vaccine.

Please visit this page frequently for the latest information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.


Safety

  1. Is the vaccine safe?
    Although the development time for COVID-19 vaccines has been considerable shortened compared to other vaccine development times, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has emphasized the same strict quality, safety and efficacy guidelines are being met. At this point, more than 70,000 patients are enrolled in the studies of the two leading vaccines, some of whom are teammates.

  2. Is the vaccine safe for people prone to allergies and allergic reactions?
    Those with severe allergic reactions should talk to their doctors before receiving the vaccine.

  3. Should I be cautious about receiving the vaccines if I have HIV or Cancer?
    People with these diagnoses are responding well to the vaccinations. Talk with your doctor to see if it’s right for you.

  4. Should individuals who are going through chemo get vaccinated?
    People receiving chemo haven’t been studied, but we’ve seen no reason not to get vaccinated so far.

  5. Can you die from the vaccine?
    Deaths reported around the time of vaccination appear to be coincidental and not caused by the vaccine. It’s incredibly rare.

  6. Can pregnant or breastfeeding women get vaccinated?
    Pregnant women haven’t been studied in clinical trials, but so far, we’ve seen no reason not to get vaccinated.

  7. Can people who are allergic to the flu vaccine get the COVID-19 vaccine?
    Yes, it’s not a dose of the live virus like the flu vaccine.

  8. Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

    None of the vaccines use the live coronavirus which causes COVID-19, so the vaccine cannot cause the disease. The goal of the vaccine is to teach our immune system how to recognize and “fight” the virus which causes COVID-19. Sometimes the process of getting vaccinated can cause mild fevers, muscle aches, soreness and headaches as your body’s immune system begins producing the protective antibodies to help defend you in case you are exposed to the virus.

    It takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after it receives a vaccination. Thus, a person could get sick with COVID-19 before or after they receive the vaccination, and this means they have not had enough time to develop an appropriate antibody response.


Side Effects

  1. Are there any side effects?

    For both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the side effects have been mild to moderate.

    After the first shot, the most common side effect was an injection site reaction such as a sore arm or redness. Side effects have been most common after the second dose and included fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, pain, fever and redness/pain at the injection site.

    Pfizer Vaccine information:https://www.fda.gov/media/144414/download

    Moderna Vaccine Information: https://www.fda.gov/media/144637/download


  2. What are the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
    Soreness and fatigue are most common. You could also get a fever, muscle aches, joint pain, headaches and nasal congestion, which normally last a day or two and respond well to over-the-counter medications.

  3. Do the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have different side effects?
    No.

  4. Are older people more prone to harsh side effects?
    No.

Phasing, Vaccine Availability & Logistics

  1. When will the vaccine be available?
    The Phase 1a and 1b of the vaccine is currently being distributed. Following CDC and DHEC guidelines, the first phases are for health care workers with direct patient contact, frontline works with increased occupational risk, those 55+ and people with increased risk for severe COIVD-19 disease.

  2. Is there a waiting list for patients?
    Once we receive vaccine for the general public, we will let you how to schedule an appointment. We are not keeping a waiting list at this time.

  3. Will the vaccine be available in the doctor offices?
    We anticipate that when vaccines become available to the general public, we will be able to offer this in our physician practices.

  4. Will someone call me when the vaccine is available?

    No, but we will update our this page as we get more information.

    If my major surgery procedure was postpone due to covid-19 am I considered priority for the vaccine? Roper St. Francis Healthcare will continue to use the prioritization guidance that is developed through the CDC and DHEC for vaccine distribution.


  5. Why is there a discrepancy between the amount of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?
    This is mostly due to production speeds.

  6. What will happen if Roper St. Francis Healthcare runs out of vaccine?
    We’ll reschedule as soon as we get more.

  7. What group are teachers in for the vaccination phasing?
    Group 1B.  

  8. I don’t have insurance; can I be vaccinated?
    Yes.

  9. Not a registered citizen of the United States, can I be vaccinated?
    Yes.

  10. Can immunocompromised people be vaccinated?
    No. We are still in phase 1a: Front-line medical workers, long-term care facility residents and staff and everyone 65 and older are among those prioritized for Phase 1a vaccine distribution.

  11. Can I be vaccinated anywhere, or does it have to be in my state?
    Anywhere.

  12. How is Roper St. Francis Healthcare keeping track of the doses, and how do I know when to come back for my second dose?
    You’ll receive a vaccine administration card to remember your vaccination dates, and our team is logging all vaccination information into the statewide vaccine database. When you schedule your appointment with us, we’ll book your second dose at the same time.

  13. Is the Roper St. Francis Healthcare vaccination drive-thru only for employees?
    No, it’s open to the community. We’ll continue vaccinations according to the current SCDHEC mandated phasing. If you don’t have a Roper St. Francis doctor, call (843) 727-DOCS (3627).

General

  1. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, should they still get the vaccine?
    We recommended people wait 90 days after having the virus before getting vaccinated.

  2. Why does the COVID vaccine require two shots?
    • Some vaccines need two shots to be most effective. In studies, Pfizer’s vaccine was 52% effective after the first shot and 95% after the second one.
    • We don’t know how effective a single shot for the vaccine would be in the long run or how long the immunity would last.
    • It’s also unclear how effective the vaccine is if you don’t follow the exact dosing timeline.

  3. Do all the COVID vaccines in development require two shots?
    • No — but many of them do.
    • Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for vaccines to require two, three or sometimes even four doses in order to be most effective. In fact, this is true for many of the first vaccines given to children, like hepatitis B, diphtheria, and tetanus.

  4. How effective is the first COVID-19 vaccine shot?
    When a vaccine requires two shots, the first shot helps your body recognize the virus and gets your immune system ready, while the second shot strengthens that immune response. This makes your body more prepared to fight infection.

  5. How long will I be protected following vaccination for COVID-19?
    The duration of protection from the vaccine is not yet known and continues to be studied. This is one of the reasons it is important to continue to wear your masks, practice physical distancing, use good hand hygiene and avoid large crowds even after you get the COVID-19 vaccine.

  6. Do I need the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?

    People who have had COVID19 are recommended to wait at least 90 days after onset of symptoms prior to getting the COVID19 vaccine.

    Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.

    At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.

    We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works.

    Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.


  7. Is it required to check antibodies levels after a year of having the vaccination?
    No.

  8. Can someone still get COVID-19 after getting the vaccine?
    Yes, but the symptoms are not as severe.

  9. How long does the vaccination last?
    Your antibodies peak two weeks after being vaccinated, but we’re unsure how often vaccinations will be required.

  10. If I’m unable to develop antibodies to other illnesses, does that mean I won’t be able to develop them against COVID?
    Talk to your doctor to see if it would be beneficial for you to receive an antibodies test after being vaccinated.

  11. Does being on steroids enhance the vaccines?
    No.

  12. If I’ve had the Covid-19 vaccine how long should I wait before having a mammogram or an imaging study done?
    To help prevent unnecessary testing, costs and concerns please avoid having a mammogram or any other imaging study 2-4 weeks after the 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

  13. How many African Americans were considered in the clinical trials?
    Ten percent of the trial participants were African American, which is an accurate representation of the U.S. population.

  14. Can you still donate plasma after being vaccinated?
    Most likely, yes.

  15. Is there an age cut off for vaccinations for younger children?
    At this time, clinical trials have only studied 16 and older.

  16. Does the vaccination protect against different strands or mutations of COVID-19?
    Yes.

  17. Can I only receive one dose and be protected against COVID?
    One dose makes you 50% less likely to contract a severe case of COVID-19; two doses ensure you’re fully protected.

  18. How has the process for developing and approving these vaccines moved so quickly?

    The process for developing, assessing safety and efficacy and manufacturing a vaccine typically takes years. The research and development on mRNA vaccines has been going on for 30 years and prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, there were other trials looking at mRNA vaccines for other infectious diseases. It is important to remember that it was the years of research, innovation and investment into the science behind this vaccine platform that allowed the scientific community to rapidly develop a COVID-19 vaccine and complete the clinical trials during the pandemic.

    Some of the reasons for the rapidity of the clinical trials include the public health emergency and the shortened timeline due to various innovations and government funding. Despite these differences from the usual vaccine clinical trials, it is important to remember that they did not affect or compromise the safety or scientific integrity of the clinical trials. Some of the changes made included the following:

    • Some clinical trials combined phase 1 and 2 to assess the safety and immune responses at the same time.
    • Due to the high numbers of COVID-19 cases, comparisons between the vaccine and placebo groups can be made quicker than during non-pandemic times.
    • Significant investment has been made in manufacturing large amounts of the vaccines prior to the results of phase 3 trials being finalized.

  19. How much will the vaccine cost? Will my insurance cover it?
    The federal government will cover the cost of the vaccine. However, health care providers may charge an office visit fee or a fee to administer the vaccine. Health insurance will most likely cover these fees. SC DHEC will work with other state agencies to determine how to offer the vaccine at no-cost for people without insurance.

Helpful links:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html
https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccination/covid-19-vaccine-faqs

 

In an Emergency

In an emergency situation, every minute matters. Call 911 or visit the ER. Here’s a list of Roper St. Francis Emergency Room locations. Please don't suffer at home during this crisis. We’re keeping ER patients whose symptoms are consistent with COVID-19 separate, isolating them from everyone else and performing intense cleaning to ensure your safety.

 

Ask a Nurse

Not sure where to go with questions about your health? We’re here for you. The Roper St. Francis Ask a Nurse Line is staffed by experienced nurses and is a free service for the community. Our nurses are available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. They’ll help you determine if you can manage your care at home and help you decide what to do next. Call (843) 549-4ASK (4275).

 

Support Person Restrictions

We're taking extra precautions to keep our patients, teammates and community safe. Roper St. Francis Healthcare will allow patients to have support persons in specific situations. General visitation of patients during the COVID pandemic is not permitted.

For Emergency Services

  • Support person allowed only for minors, vulnerable adults, or for clinical situations deemed appropriate by the charge nurse such as end of life, obstetric emergencies, etc. All other support people will be allowed in the emergency department once the patient has been placed in a room. The support person will be asked to wait in their car until the patient is in a room. They will be allowed to stay in the room for a short period of time, but will have to comply with the hospital policy of 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Staff will update the family contact by phone at regular intervals if the emergency stay is extended beyond an hour.
  • Waiting rooms remain closed.

For Surgical Services

  • Upon arrival, you and your support person will be screened and given a badge prior to entry into the hospital.
  • Your support person will be issued a mask to wear upon arrival. They should keep this mask for future use.
  • Your support person can go with you to the areas within the hospital before your surgery.
  • Once surgery begins, your support person will be asked to wait in their vehicle, unless otherwise directed. They will receive a call at the end of the surgery. The support person will be able to see the patient immediately following the surgery, but will have to comply with the hospital policy of 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • For safety reasons, your support person is not allowed in any other parts of the hospital including the cafeteria or gift shop. Waiting rooms are closed during this time.
  • Your support person will still be screened at the entrance again and should bring their issued mask.
  • If you are going to an inpatient unit after your procedure, your support person will receive further instructions when they come to the unit after your procedure. Overnight stays will be allowed only under clinically warranted circumstances.

For Inpatients

  • Upon admission, you will be asked to designate a support person.
  • Your support person will be screened and issued an identification badge at one of our manned entrances. (Please bring a photo ID)
  • Your support person must wear a mask at all times while in the hospital. A mask will be issued upon arrival if you do not have one already. They should keep this mask for future use.
  • For safety reasons, your support person must remain in your room and access the cafeteria or public restrooms only when necessary. Waiting rooms remain closed.
  • Your support person can be in the hospital between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. daily. Overnight stays are allowed only under clinically warranted circumstances.
  • For patients in the Intensive Care Unit, your support person may be in attendance between the hours of 8am to 10am, which is also the time of the care team rounding. This will be the only access to ICU for the day.
  • This letter will serve as a “support person pass,” allowing them to return the next day. Your support person will still be screened at the entrance again and should bring their issued mask.
  • If necessary, the designated support person may change at 24-hour intervals. Please notify your nurse when a change is necessary, and they will document this in your medical record.

For Women's Services

  • One support person will be allowed to be in attendance for delivery and post-partum stay.
  • Support person may go to the cafeteria for meals.
  • One support person may accompany to OB Emergency Room.
  • Waiting rooms remain closed.

For Rehab

  • No support person.
  • Support person may be in attendance on the day of discharge for care instructions.
  • Support person may be allowed under special circumstances around the mid-stay for those requiring extensive training.
  • Waiting rooms remain closed.

Allowing a support person will be a controlled circumstance. We are asking the following guidelines be followed:

  • You will be screened and issued an identification badge at one of our manned entrances (please bring a photo ID).
  • You must wear a mask at all times while in the hospital. A mask will be issued upon arrival if you do not have one already. Please keep this mask for future use.
  • For safety reasons, you must remain in the patient room and access the cafeteria or public restrooms only when necessary. Waiting rooms remain closed.
  • We ask that you leave by no later than 6 p.m. daily. Overnight stays are allowed only under clinically warranted circumstances.
  • If necessary, the designated support person may change at 24-hour intervals. Please notify the nurse when a change is necessary, and they will document this in the medical record.

 

Guidelines for Patients Visiting Our Doctors' Offices

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are introducing a few new guidelines to keep you and our care team safe

  • If you or your support person are experiencing flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, body aches, shortness of breath) or suspect exposure to COVID-19 through travel or other means, we will direct you to Roper St. Francis Virtual Care.
  • Patients and their support person will be screened at entrance of the office for flu-like symptoms; those with symptoms will be directed to return to their vehicles and conduct a virtual visit.
  • Per CDC guidelines and local mandates, you and your support person should wear a mask when leaving your home and in our practice.
  • Patients can be accompanied by one support person over the age of 16 only if assistance is required to facilitate the patient’s office visit. The support person is required to wear a mask.
  • Our OB/GYN practices are are allowing one support person over the age of 16 to attend the first OB visit and anatomy ultrasound only. Please check with your provider if you have any questions. We are asking all other patients to come by themselves to their visit. For all postpartum patient visits, patients are able to bring their newborn to the appointment but no other children or support people are permitted for the safety of our pregnant patients. 
  • Children are not permitted to attend visits with parents or guardians; please make appropriate child care arrangements. Children should never be left unattended or in vehicles.
  • Patients’ time in our waiting room will be kept to a minimum and all waiting rooms have been rearranged to optimize social distancing.
  • We now have a safe and convenient virtual check-in option that allows you to check in and confirm appointments from your mobile device. You’ll be automatically enrolled if we have your mobile number on record.
  • Our waiting rooms are disinfected throughout the day using recommended CDC & EPA disinfectants and cleaning chemicals (like Sani-Cloth Bleach wipes).
  • Our team is wearing masks, and those who are delivering care are also wearing gloves.

 

Imaging Services

Imaging services have resumed and to ensure the safety of our patients and teammates, we are implementing these safety measures: 

  • Patients will be contacted prior to their appointment to determine if they are free of COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors.
  • Each room will be sterilized before and after every procedure.
  • All teammates providing patient care will be masked, gowned and gloved.
  • We have implemented an intensive seven-step cleaning protocol and are using the recommended CDC and EPA disinfectants and cleaning chemicals (like Sani-Cloth Bleach wipes) to clean all areas.
  • We are maintaining social distancing. Patients are asked to wait in their vehicle until it’s time for their appointment and when they come in, they are kept a safe distance of six feet or more from others.
  • Per CDC guidelines, patients should wear a mask when leaving their home and in our facilities. Homemade masks and/or scarves will be acceptable.

View a list of imaging and lab sites.

 

COVID-19 Testing

In order to be tested at a Roper St. Francis Healthcare facility for COVID-19 you must have a physician's order. All patients with COVID-19 testing orders should visit one of our Roper St. Francis Express Care locations to have the test performed.

We are providing drive-thru specimen collecting for patients that need pre-admission testing (PAT) at our Rivers Avenue location. Patients needing PAT are being seen from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Roper St. Francis Physician Partners Primary Care at 5133 Rivers Avenue in North Charleston. Only patients with a PAT testing order can use this service.

South Carolina DHEC is offering mobile and popup testing clinics that provide free testing for anyone. To find a testing site near you visit the
SC DHEC website

 

COVID Diagnostic Testing Fees

Test Description Cash Price
(Net of Self Pay Discount)
Cash Price
(Net of Self + Prompt Pay Discount)
COVID-19 Total Antibody $48.75 $41.25
SARS-COV-2-COVID-19 AMP PRB $104.00 $88.00

 

FAQs for COVID-19 Test Results

Positive COVID-19 Test

  1. How long do I need to quarantine with a positive result?
    You and any members in your household should quarantine for 14 days from the day you were seen by a physician.

  2. If I don’t have symptoms am I contagious?
    Yes, if you have tested positive you are contagious. Stay quarantined for the 14 days.

  3. Do I need to notify people I have been in contact with? 
    Yes, if you can.

  4. At what point do I need to seek medical care if symptoms get worse.
    If your symptoms become much worse, especially if there is a sudden onset of shortness of breath.

  5. What about my family members in the house?
    Do not leave home. Avoid others in your residence. Disinfect surfaces regularly. Monitor for symptoms that may require hospitalization. Follow CDC guidelines for safety and care.

  6. If other family members have been exposed, should they be tested?
    If they’re not showing symptoms, call your primary care physician and inform them you are positive and seek their recommendations. If they are showing symptoms or feeling ill, they should be seen by a physician.  

  7. My child has sickle cell, what should I do? (This applies to any person having a chronic illness) 
    Call your pediatrician or primary care provider to receive guidance and follow-up care.  

  8. When can I expect to start to feel better?
    Expect to start feeling improvement towards the end of your second week of quarantine or shortly thereafter (or no less than 10 days from symptom onset and 72 hours after fever disappears if you have had a fever).

  9. Do I need to be re-seen after I've finished my quarantine?
    Only if you have developed symptoms you consider urgent or emergent.

  10. What about my animals are they safe.
    Just like with people you should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick.

  11. I'm also a diabetic, what should I expect when taking medications prescribed by my physician. 
    Be aware of your diet and check your blood sugar regularly. Contact your primary care doctor for a diabetic plan of care.

  12. I'm pregnant, does this affect my baby.
    You should follow the advice of your OB/GYN and CDC guidelines for safety and care.

  13. What medications can I take? 
    You can take Tylenol or Motrin for fever and body aches. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and give yourself time to recover.

  14. When can I go back to work?
    If you have self-quarantined and remained isolated for the duration of 14 days, and are symptom free you can return to work.

Negative COVID-19 Test

  1. If I start to get symptoms do I need to get retested?
    That is up to you. At this point you have tested negative. We suggest that you stay quarantined until you feel better and do not have a fever for three days without taking fever reducing medications.

  2. How do I get a copy of my negative test results for my employer? 
    You can contact Medical Records to have them send you a copy of your results. If you have been seen in our ER, you will be emailed a note saying you are negative and instructions will be provided.

  3. When can I go back to work?
    If you have self-quarantined and remained isolated for the duration of 14 days, and are symptom free you can return to work. 

 

Donation of Critical Supplies

If you would like to make a donation of any kind (goods, food, etc.) please contact shawn.rabideau@rsfh.com or call (843) 789-1616.

If you would like to make a financial contribution to support our caregivers and patients, please give to the Roper St. Francis Foundation.

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