A message to our patients about COVID-19 Coronavirus
| Published March 16, 2020
NorthShore Health Centers medical is open and operating under normal business hours with only slightly shortened hours at our Lake Station and Portage locations. We are continuing to care for our patients. If you have a scheduled appointment at NorthShore Health Centers, please plan to keep this appointment unless you are experiencing symptoms like fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, runny nose or shortness of breath.
If you are a patient who is experiencing these symptoms, please call our office at 219-962-9999.
Below are frequently asked questions related to COVID-19 as it relates to our patients and community. The FAQs below are subject to change based on the receipt of more current information. The information on this page is subject to modification, pending guidance from the CDC, WHO and/or Local Public Health Departments.
What do I need to know about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Is NorthShore Health Centers testing patients for COVID-19?
NorthShore Health Centers is not currently offering the testing for COVID-19 at any of our locations.
Does NorthShore offer antibody testing for COVID-19?
Yes, NorthShore offers antibody testing and can be ordered in the clinic or through a telehealth appointment. The COVID-19 antibody testing may provide insight to your previous exposure or possible immunity to COVID-19.
Can I bring children and family members/caregivers to my appointment(s)?
We ask that you bring only one additional person to your appointment(s) if necessary.
Are eye care services available?
Yes, our optometry department is open with extra precautions in place to serve both new and existing patients.
What if I need a note to return to work or school?
NorthShore Health Centers is currently not offering coronavirus testing to fulfill work or school clearances.
What should I do if I have cold or flu symptoms?
If you must see your team and have active symptoms, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or other respiratory symptoms including congestion or runny nose, please call our office at 219-962-9999 before your appointment. Nurses will provide guidance about whether you should come to the clinic or wait until your symptoms are gone. Only go to the emergency room first if you are having a medical emergency. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
Are patients screened for respiratory symptoms?
Yes, all patients are being screened for symptoms of respiratory illness at the entrance to the clinic.
Should I wear a mask in the clinic?
You should wear a mask in the clinic only if directed to do so by staff. When you enter the clinic through the front door or garage, you will be screened for respiratory symptoms. If staff determine you have symptoms, a provider will assess you and determine appropriate actions.
Should I be worried about getting infected with COVID-19 at NorthShore Health Centers?
NorthShore Health Centers has extensive and thorough infection control procedures, and we will do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our community. We have protocols and systems in place to keep all patients, visitors and healthcare workers safe.
Are patient education events or volunteer opportunities taking place?
As the situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve, we have made the decision to postpone all patient education events until further notice out of an abundance of caution. Some classes are available online on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/northshorehealthcenters/.
Is there anything I can do to keep myself, my family and friends safe?
The most important steps to take are the same as for every cold and flu season:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Practice good hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Plan how you will take care of sick family members. Make plans for childcare if you are sick or if your child is sick. Have a thermometer at home so you can check for fever if you or a loved one feels ill.
- Try to get a few extra months’ worth of your prescription medications, if possible.
- Stay informed – check the CDC site regularly for new updates.
NorthShore offers Video and Phone Appointments!
Staying true to our mission, NorthShore Health Centers now offers telehealth appointments for our patients and community. We are continuing to provide affordable, quality healthcare through video or phone calls for appointments with our providers for non-emergency primary care, behavioral health and substance abuse treatment.
What is a telehealth appointment?
A telehealth appointment allows you to discuss your medical concerns with your medical provider over the phone or video conference without visiting the clinic in person.
What visits can be done through a telehealth appointment?
A telehealth visit can be used to evaluate most mild to moderate illnesses, including concerns about infection with COVID-19. A telehealth visit is also often appropriate to manage ongoing health conditions like asthma, diabetes, and depression.
Currently all of our psychiatry, behavioral health and substance abuse counseling appointments are being done via telehealth.
Call (219)763-8112 to find out if you qualify for a telehealth appointment.
How do I schedule a telehealth appointment?
Scheduling a telehealth appointment is the same as scheduling a regular in-clinic appointment. Call us at (219)763-8112 and let the scheduling staff know that you would like to make a telehealth appointment.
Do I need to call at my scheduled appointment time or will my provider call me?
Your provider will call you at your scheduled appointment time. When scheduling your appointment, be sure to give the scheduling staff the best phone number for your provider to call. Please make sure you are waiting by your phone up to 30 minutes before and after your scheduled appointment since provider may be ready earlier or later due to unexpected complications with other patient visits.
I heard NorthShore was a “free” clinic. Does that mean there is no cost to me?
NorthShore is not a free clinic, however, we take all forms of insurance including Medicaid, HIP, Medicare, and private/commercial insurance plans. NorthShore also offers a sliding-scale or discounted self-pay option based on income for those with no medical insurance or high insurance deductibles. Based on yearly household income, patients who qualify can pay from a minimum of $25 (0% on the sliding scale) up to $65 (100% on the sliding scale) for an office visit. This sliding-scale does not cover lab and other outside fees, however, as those prices are set by third-party providers. NorthShore also has two on site pharmacies that participate in the government’s 340B program helping eligible patients receive discounted prescription drugs.
Since NorthShore is for people with no insurance, can I still make an appointment even if I have insurance?
Yes, we see everyone! No patient will be denied medical care regardless of age, sex, race, religion, or ability to pay for service. Our payment options include: Private or Commercial Insurance, Medicaid, HIP, Medicare, and a discounted self-pay option for the uninsured or underinsured.
How do I know that I will be receiving quality care at NorthShore?
NorthShore Health Centers’ vision is for all who seek our services, regardless of sex, age, income, social or cultural standing, or health condition, to have access to quality health services in a setting that promotes continuous, comprehensive health care. First, NorthShore wants to be recognized as the best quality health care facility in the community, and secondly to be among the top-ranked community health centers in the country.
Our facilities employ board certified general practitioners, obstetricians, midwives, pediatricians, nurse practitioners, prenatal care coordinators, and community inreach and outreach workers. Behavioral Health Consultants work with our Primary Care Providers to ensure that emotional and behavioral issues are addressed as well as physical ones. We address your entire health and wellbeing and service is provided regardless of ability to pay.
Our entire organization from the governing board to the individual staff members participate in a systematic effort to improve the quality of health care and other services provided at NorthShore. The efforts to achieve quality are collaborative in nature and focus on assessing and improving our operating efficiency and outcomes for all departments.
Are checkups important?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 out of every 10 deaths among Americans each year are caused by chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Often times, preventative measures can be taken to avoid the onset of these diseases including a close relationship with your doctor and healthcare team.
The doctors and nurse practitioners at NorthShore will discuss ways to stay healthy such as healthy eating, regular exercise, avoiding tobacco use, and receiving preventative services such as regular wellness visits, required vaccinations and recommended screenings for all stages of your life.
Is there a correlation between good dental and good physical health?
According to WebMD, there is a correlation between dental and physical health. Those who suffer from gum disease are twice more likely to die from a heart attack than those who do not. Also, gum disease is connected to many different conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and respiratory disease.
What is a 3D/4D ultrasound?
3D ultrasounds use sound waves at a pitch much higher than what you or your baby can hear (think of a dog whistle). These sound waves echo back to the ultrasound machine. The 3D ultrasound machine sends these waves at different angles, analyzes the echoes, and forms a 3D image. The 4D portion of the ultrasound is a movie clip of your baby in 3D, where the fourth dimension is time. You can see your baby in 3D moving over time, and this movie is saved as a short video clip.
Is getting an elective (non-diagnostic) ultrasound safe for my baby?
In 35 years of widespread, almost universal use of ultrasounds, there has not been a single known case of a miscarriage or abnormality attributed to the use of ultrasounds. Its safety profile has been proven over the decades. Note: Women undergoing in vitro fertilization have to receive an obstetric ultrasound every week, and even in these cases, there has been no report of any harm or risk to the baby or mother.
When is the best time to get a 3D /4D ultrasound?
In our experience, the best time to get the clearest images on 3D ultrasound is between 24 and 30 weeks, with weeks 26-28 being ideal. After 30 weeks, the baby may have already begun his or her descent to the outside world.
How can I get good images of my baby on my 3D ultrasound?
On the day of the ultrasound have breakfast or lunch, then, if you are not diabetic, drink something with sugar in it just before you come in for the ultrasound. The bladder does not have to be full for the exam.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Because the 3D/4D Ultrasound is an elective non-diagnostic procedure, you are required to pay by cash, credit card, or with our Gift Certificate at the time of your appointment.
Can I get a Diagnostic 2D Ultrasound when I get the elective 3D/4D Ultrasound?
For an additional charge, if you have a Physician’s order, the 2D diagnostic ultrasound can be completed during your 3D/4D Ultrasound session. When you call to schedule your 3D/4D Ultrasound appointment, inform the scheduler that you are also interested in having a 2D diagnostic ultrasound at the same time. You can discuss with the scheduler any other preparation steps necessary to complete the 2D diagnostic Ultrasound.
Will my insurance cover the additional charges for the 2D Ultrasound?
NorthShore Health Center’s can file a claim through your insurance provider. If the diagnostic test is not covered, you are responsible for the charges using NorthShore’s sliding fee schedule.
Do you have gift certificates available?
Yes, a gift certificate for NorthShore’s 3D/4D Ultrasound Experience makes the perfect gift for a baby shower, for your friend or family member.
What is a well child visit and why are they important?
Parents know to bring their child to the pediatrician when they are sick, but remember a trip to the doctor is just as important for healthy children.
The Bright Futures/American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) developed a schedule which recommends each age from infancy through adolescence a child should see the pediatrician along with suggested screenings and assessments to be completed for each well-child visits.
Your pediatrician will discuss immunization options to prevent illness as well as discuss, safety and address any other concerns you might have as your child grows. You will also be able to see how much your child has grown since your last visit as well as and talk with your pediatrician about your child’s development. Your doctor might discuss your child’s milestones, learning and social behaviors.
When will my lab results come in?
Lab results can take up to 5-7 business days.
Do I need to make an appointment for labs or X-rays?
No. Walk-ins are welcome, however, NorthShore cannot control your wait time if you choose not to set an appointment.
What do I need to do in order to obtain my medical records or the medical records of my minor children?
In order to obtain a copy of your medical records or the medical records of your minor children, you can come to any of the NorthShore Health Center clinics and complete an ‘Authorization to Release Medical Information.’ Please also bring a photo ID of yourself as it will be requested to verify your identity prior to the release of the medical records.
How long does it take for a request for medical records to be completed?
Although federal guidelines allow a healthcare provider up to 30 days to process a request for medical records, we make every effort to fulfill releases within 1-2 business days.
Do I have to pay for my medical records?
As a courtesy to our patients we do not charge a fee for copies of a patient’s own medical records or that of their minor children.
Can I have a family member or friend pick up my medical records for me?
If you would like someone other than yourself to be able to pick up your medical records (or the records of your minor child), you must complete a ‘Disclosure of Protected Health Information’ form. These forms can be obtained from any of our clinics and they are valid for up to one year after the form has been completed.
Can a step-parent request/receive medical records on my child?
A step-parent can only receive records on a child if (1) they have custody as a result of an adoption, or (2) the custodial parent has completed the ‘Disclosure of Protected Health Information’ form and specified the step-parent as one of the individuals who can obtain medical records on the child. If the step-parent has obtained custody of the child we will require that the legal paperwork regarding that change in custody be provided to use before any information is released.
Can a foster parent obtain medical records on a child who is their current custody?
Yes, a foster parent can obtain medical records as long as they provide NorthShore with the legal documentation showing that they currently have custody of the child in question. The foster parent will also need to complete an ‘Authorization to Release/Obtain Medical Information’ form and provide a photo ID prior to the medical records being released to them.
Will my medical records automatically transfer from my previous provider?
No, you must contact your previous provider and request to have your medical records released and sent to NorthShore.
How long does it take to fill my prescription?
It can take up to 15 minutes for the pharmacy to actually receive the Rx from the doctor/provider as it needs to be routed from the physician’s computer system to the pharmacy’s computer system. Once the pharmacy receives the Rx, it is usually processed within 5-10 minutes as long as they have not received a high volume at one time.
How much is my prescription?
The Pharmacist is not able quote an exact price until the Rx is actually run through the computer system. However, NorthShore does participate in the government’s 340B program which allows NorthShore patients prescription medication at a discount.
Why doesn’t the pharmacy carry more over-the-counter items?
This is mainly due to lack of space.
What are the pharmacy hours?
NorthShore has two onsite pharmacies open Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 9 pm and Saturday 8am – 12 pm.