Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update to Our Patients and Their Families

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update to Our Patients and Their Families

This page was last updated Monday May 4, 2020 by Dr. Austin Jelcick, PhD

Santa Clara county and other counties in the Bay Area have issued a shelter-in-place order for all non-essential businesses: “Essential services are defined as those necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community. All Santa Clara County hospitals and health clinics continue to remain open.” Our most recent announcement and update can be found at the bottom of this page

Our clinic is currently open.

Travel for medical purposes is allowed under new (March 20th) travel ban.

Our clinic is currently open based on the current information from the CDC and WHO regarding Coronavirus and who is at risk. Children and individuals under 19 years old are at the least amount of risk for getting sick or developing serious illness.

If you are sick, stay home.

If you are sick, are starting to feel sick, have any symptoms currently described by the CDC, or are concerned you may be getting sick (ie. because of recent travel) please stay home and do not come to the clinic. Please stay home and follow official guidance related to self-quarantine and let us know by phone that you won’t be coming into the clinic.

Anyone presenting cold or flu-like symptoms at the clinic will be sent home IMMEDIATELY.

While children and teens are not at risk, spreading the disease still is a concern. Out of precaution for others, anyone showing symptoms of being ill will be sent home from the clinic immediately.

Our clinic will remain open until guidance from the CDC and WHO indicate otherwise.

Based on current scientific information release from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), disease in children is rare and mild. Because Coronavirus does not pose a risk to children and teens, and because fewer than 50 people are present in our clinic at any given time, our clinic will remain open until guidance from the CDC and WHO indicate otherwise. Coronavirus is a new and concerning disease but can be managed with the correct response and the vast majority of infected people will recover. People are thought to be most contagious when they are the sickest and are showing symptoms. We have provided highlighted information below from the official guidance provided by the CDC regarding prevention, sanitation, caring for others, and more:

  • Individuals 60 years old and over, and those with other health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic respiratory illness have the highest risk for severe disease and death
  • The MOST IMPORTANT PROTECTIVE MEASURES are frequent hand washing and covering your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing.
  • Use hand sanitizer that is at least 70% alcohol and when washing your hands, wash them for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouse; and avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily

Update (March 16): We are still open during the Santa Clara shelter-in-place order

With the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic occurring, we want to provide an update for our patients and their families and also provide links to general guidance on how to prepare and respond to Coronavirus appropriately.

Update (March 17): How we are protecting our patients

Hello everyone, Dr. Austin Jelcick here. I wanted to personally update you all on measures we are taking to protect the health of both our patients as well as our clinicians and staff. Having served previously as a Biosafety Officer in a BSL3 laboratory that worked with concentrated agents including West Nile, Encephalitis and others, I want to first reassure everyone who comes to the clinic that we are actively taking measures to minimize and prevent any exposure to Coronavirus.

In the lab, the key to preventing accidents and infection are sterile technique, proper protective equipment (PPE), and training to ensure all rules and procedures are followed. We know from the CDC and WHO that Coronavirus can remain on hard non-porous surfaces for up to 3 days. We also know that most viruses do not survive well on non-porous surfaces due to the lack of moisture, pH, chemicals etc. that expedite the breakdown of the virus structure. We also know from back in the early 2000s that different types of coronavirus survive worse on porous surfaces compared to non-porous surfaces. Viruses are not living and need a host to replicate; they are DNA or RNA with a “bad attitude”. Thus the biggest hazard is Coronavirus lingering on hard non-porous surfaces. Because of this, we are disinfecting all hard surfaces and frequently used surfaces DAILY using Virex which is listed by the CDC as an approved disinfectant against COVID-19 as it is also effective against the related SARS virus. All surfaces remain wet for more than 2 minutes so ensure contact time is met and all surfaces are disinfected. You can read the approved disinfectant list on the CDC’s website.

In addition to disinfecting the clinic, our clinicians have been equipped with N95 respirators approved by CDC and NIOSH. These masks help protect our staff as well as those around them from spreading any disease which can be transmitted. Per the CDC’s recommendations, healthy individuals do not need to wear a mask, however because our staff come in contact with numerous people and patients throughout the day, our staff’s masks serve as precaution to help prevent any spread of the virus.

It should go without saying, but all staff are performing thorough hand washing including use of alcohol based hand sanitizer (70% or more alcohol). We HEAVILY ENCOURAGE all of our patients and their families to wash their hands regularly in accordance with CDC and WHO guidelines. It cannot be stressed enough how much hand washing and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth helps in preventing the spread of infection and disease.

There is a lot of information flying around right now, and a lot of concern and panic. While Coronavirus is a serious concern, staying calm, practicing good hygiene, performing social distancing, and following official guidelines from reputable sources of infectious disease control (like the CDC and WHO) will get all of us through this crisis in time. As children and teens are not affected seriously by the virus, we want to ensure that no accidental spread occurs that can affect the families and friends of our patients, which is why we have taken the precautions and cleaning measures we have.

As the CDC and WHO update their guidelines, we will update our procedures accordingly. If you have an upcoming appointment and are concerned, or simply have questions regarding the measures we are taking against Coronavirus, please feel free to message the clinic on Facebook and I will ensure that each of your questions and concerns are responded to.

Good science and proper procedures will get us through this crisis, and we all will breathe a sigh of relief once we have toilet paper once again. Until then don’t panic; wash your hands; don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth; and remember contact time when you disinfect things around the house.

— Dr. Austin Jelcick, PhD

Update (March 18): Update following California and Federal Shelter-in-place Order

Hello everyone, Dr. Austin Jelcick here. As you have already heard, the state of California has issued an even broader “stay at home” order this week while the Federal government has issued a travel ban to Mexico and Canada. These orders still allow essential travel and also allow essential businesses to stay open. As a healthcare provider, we are classified as essential and will continue to remain open for our patients. Below you can find a graphic showing all critical/essential infrastructure with healthcare highlighted (outlined) in orange.

Essential infrastructure sectors defined by CISA

In addition to this, you have likely heard that travel restriction have been put in place limiting travel to “essential travel” both domestic and international. For all of our non-local and international patients this may sound as though you will not be able to travel for your appointment, but this is not the case at the current time. “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature. Travel for medical purposes is allowed with proper documentation. Please contact us for paperwork verifying that your travel is for medical treatment/purposes.

While the situation is very fluid and may change, for now our patients are able to continue to come to the clinic and receive treatment for their scoliosis so that their curves do not inadvertently get worse during the Coronavirus pandemic. We have provided a short video clip below highlighting the announcement where various types of allowed travel, including for medical purposes, is announced.

For our patients and their families coming to our clinic on Monday (March 23, 2020): We will be screening everyone outside the MRI center for fever using an infrared thermometer. If you have a fever or show symptoms (dry cough, sneezing) you will be sent home and not admitted. Additionally, we will be allowing one (1) parent or guardian to be present as to allow us to space each family 6ft apart in the waiting area to accordance with CDC guidelines for social distancing in waiting areas.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the measures we are taking to keep patients, staff, and everyone’s families safe, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Stay safe out there and we will see you for your appointments soon.

–Dr. Austin Jelcick, PhD

Update (March 30): Update following extension of Social Distancing Guidelines Until April 30

Hello everyone, Dr. Austin here. As you may be aware, the President announced yesterday that the social distancing guidelines have been extended until April 30th in efforts to continue to slow the spread of Coronavirus. Our clinic IS STILL OPEN and we are still DISINFECTING the clinic on a daily basis to ensure all patients, their families, and our staff are as safe as possible during this time. Our previous measures are still in place, with all staff and patients will have their temperatures taken, and social distancing has been enacted in our waiting rooms to allow parents/guardians accompanying their children to stay with their child but 6ft away from other families as much as possible in accordance with CDC guidelines. As always if you have any questions, concerns, or simple would like a link to reputable updated Coronavirus information through the CDC or WHO, please contact us and let us know!

— Dr. Austin Jelcick, PhD

Update (April 3): How Coronavirus spreads and updated information about "At Risk" Groups

Good morning everyone, Dr. Austin Jelcick here with another update regarding COVID-19 while our clinic continues to remain open for our patients. The CDC recently updated their information regarding who is most at risk for developing severe symptoms of coronavirus. These individuals should take additional precautions to avoid being exposed as they can develop severe symptoms and complications. Thus, if you or a member of your family falls under one of these groups, please let us know and have that individual avoid coming to the clinic as a precaution. While we are routinely disinfecting the clinic on a daily basis, checking the temperature of all visitors and staff to screen for fever, and allowing for social distancing in our waiting room, traveling and being in public is still an added risk for individuals in the “at risk” categories, so the phrase “better safe than sorry” certainly applies here.

People at higher risk for severe Coronavirus related illness

Individuals who:

  1. Are 65 years old or older
  2. Live in a nursing home or other assisted living facility
  3. Have moderate/severe asthma
  4. Have a chronic lung disease
  5. Have serious heart conditions
  6. Are severely obese with a BMI of 40 or above
  7. Are diabetic
  8. Have chronic kidney disease and are undergoing dialysis
  9. Have liver disease
  10. Are immunocompromised (ie. undergoing cancer treatments; are HIV positive; recent bone marrow or organ transplants, etc.)

It is also important to understand how Coronavirus is spread, and how it is “killed”. Remember, viruses are not truly “alive” and are essentially DNA or RNA with a bad attitude (Coronavirus is a RNA virus). The virus is surrounded by a protective layer of fat (a lipid bi-layer) which is referred to as an “envelope”. If this layer of fat is broken down, such as with good old fashioned soap and water; alcohol sanitizers; or disinfectants, the virus breaks down. Similarly the proteins of the virus also will denature, rendering the virus inactive. This is why “contact time” or the amount of time your disinfectant is on the surface of something matters. It takes time to break down the fat and protein, and until that is done the virus can still be infectious or “viable”. So be sure to read the instructions on your disinfectant and keep the surfaces of what you are cleaning wet for the amount of time indicated on the label of your disinfectant.

Coronavirus can be spread from person to person when they are in close contact (within 6 feet) with each other. This is because the virus is transmitted by small droplets known as respiratory droplets that are produced whenever a person talks, coughs, or sneezes. These little droplets can then land on mucous membranes of the other person (their nose, their mouth, etc.) or can simply be inhaled by the other person as they are talking or breathing. While we don’t currently understand all of the ways coronavirus is spread, there is evidence that people without symptoms can still spread the virus, so be sure to maintain your 6 feet of distance and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Last but not least, the virus can survive on surfaces for some time, making it possible to catch the virus by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. While this is not thought to be the main way that Coronavirus is spreading, it still is a concern and why you should disinfect surfaces at home, in the car, your phone, etc. that you may have touched with dirty hands after being in public. The CDC has provided some helpful guidelines for how to disinfect your home, as well as additional guidelines as to how you can protect yourself and your family as you carry on about your day to day activities.

Stay safe and healthy out there and as always, if you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming visit to the clinic, please contact us as we are taking every step we can to ensure every visitor to the clinic stays healthy.

— Dr. Austin Jelcick, PhD

Update (April 24): Updated Information From The CDC

Hi everyone, Dr. Austin Jelcick here. I wanted to quickly update everyone that the CDC is continually providing updated information and guidance, particularly regarding medications, treatments, and at risk groups. One key thing that has been on the CDC’s guidelines for a while that has only recently made it onto the news is that individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity are at a higher risk for serious illness and/or complications from COVID-19. You can find the official badge and link below to the CDC where you can find ongoing updates (typically daily) regarding Coronavirus. Stay safe, stay healthy, maintain social distancing, wear your mask when you are in public places, wash your hands, and know that we are continuing our daily disinfection of the entire clinic along with other measures to ensure the safety and health of everyone who comes to our clinic.

image of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Update (May 4): Face Mask Requirement and Re-Opening Phase 2

Dr. Jelcick here once again and this time with some good news and some additional guidelines for your upcoming visits to our clinic as we are still open and will remain open as an essential medical service to you and your families.

Santa Clara county has required the use of face coverings (ie. cloth masks) for all individuals when entering an essential business now through May 31st. The main goal of this measure is to prevent or slow the spread of the virus from individuals who do not have symptoms but may still be shedding the virus. As such, our clinic will require all staff, patients and their families, and all other visitors to wear a cloth face covering in the clinic. Please note that some individuals are not required to wear a face mask due to medical issues. These individuals who ARE NOT REQUIRED to wear a mask are:

  • Children 6 years old or younger
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing, is incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance
  • Anyone who has been advised by a medical professional not to wear a face covering

Now for the good news! As of today, Monday May 4th 2020, California’s Governor has announced that CA will enter Stage 2 of its re-opening plan as early as this Friday, May 8th. While official guidelines will be announced later this week (which can be found on the California state website), the Stage 2 will allow various business to begin re-opening with additional guidelines (ie social distancing and face masks). These business will include bookshops, various retail stores, florists, and sporting good stores and will likely require curbside pickup.

Maintaining Health and Safety During Re-Opening

As California and other states begin their multiple phase plans to re-open and get back to normal, we will be maintaining all of our disinfection, social distancing, and face mask guidelines as well as our temperature checks (to ensure no one has a fever) of all patients, staff, and visitors. We will continue to perform daily disinfection of the entire clinic utilizing CDC recommended disinfectants effective against COVID-19 (SARS-cov-2) and will have additional on hand to disinfect surfaces upon request should you wish to have things disinfected more frequently. Additionally we have hand sanitizer and soap and water available to all to allow for frequent hand washing. Our waiting room will remain spaced out as to allow for social distancing of families, and we will be allowing only one (1) family member at a time if needed to ensure the clinic is not overcrowded (and thus affect social distancing). Additionally we are ready to reorganize where various exercises and treatment activities are performed to ensure social distancing can be maintained as much as possible even on the clinic floor. Over the next few months as we see an increased number of patients, we will be maintaining these measures so that all of your patients, their families, our staff and any visitors are as safe and healthy as they can be.

That being said, please remember to continue washing your hands for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth; maintain social distancing when in public; obtain your COVID-19 information from reliable, scientific/medical sources; and try to limit your media intake to ease stress and anxiety. While things begin to re-open and we start getting back to normal, remember that for those at high risk for serious illness or those who live with, or visit someone who is in that high risk group the virus is still a threat to their health. The precautions we all take help keep those individuals healthy, and also help to prevent a “second wave” as our scientists and doctors work on effective treatments and preventative measures for COVID-19. As always if you have any questions, please contact us as we are here to help! Stay safe, stay healthy, and we will see you at your upcoming appointments.

–Dr. Austin Jelcick, PhD

Additional resources for information about Coronavirus, how to prepare, sanitize, and more:

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About Dr. Austin Jelcick, PhD

Dr. Austin Jelcick graduated from CSU Stanislaus and the University of Nebraska Medical Center with a bachelor's degree in biology and a PhD in genetics. Working in biotech in both scientific and marketing roles, Dr. Austin brought his experience to Scoliosis Care Centers where he now coordinates technical scientific writing and educational articles about scoliosis, kyphosis, genetics, and more; social media; graphic/video content creation; website optimization; and PPC advertising campaigns. When he's not working you can find Dr. Austin hiking, surfing, and skating throughout the Santa Cruz area.