COVID-19 INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS
Nebraska Hematology-Oncology is committed to remaining vigilant in the effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In order for us to continue offering a safe environment for our patients and staff, we’re asking you to notify us prior to any appointment if you are exhibiting any signs or symptoms common in COVID-19 or if you or a family member has been recently exposed to anyone with COVID-19. When arriving for your appointment, patients and visitors are still required to wear a mask and only one visitor per patient is allowed. Anyone with questions or concerns about COVID-19 should call us at 402-484-4900, ext. 6.
Masks are required:
- Masks must cover the nose and mouth. Masks with vents or valves are not allowed. NHO strongly recommends the use of medical-grade masks for patients and visitors. All NHO staff are required to wear medical-grade masks.
- One healthy adult (over the age of 16) may accompany the patient.
- Exception: One healthy interpreter may accompany the patient in addition to the one visitor.
- One healthy adult (over the age of 16) may accompany the patient.
- Exception: Two healthy adults (over the age of 16) may accompany the patient for complex visits (end-of-life discussions, new diagnosis, post-hospital visits, review of scans, change of treatment, etc.)
Lab Only Visits:
- Patients are encouraged not to stay and review labs, but to instead check their patient portal and/or call the phone nurse to review.
- Exception: Patients may stay if they request to talk with or be evaluated by a nurse; if the lab determines the patient needs to see a nurse prior to leaving; or if their lab would require possible transfusion and/or fluids or electrolytes.
- All patients are to limit visitors to only one healthy adult over the age of 16.
- If the patient wishes to have more than one visitor, they are required to call NHO prior to coming to their appointment.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KEEP DOING
For now, if you've been fully vaccinated:
- You should still protect yourself and others in many situations by wearing a mask that fits snugly against the sides of your face and doesn't have gaps. Take this precaution whenever you are in indoor public settings, gathering indoors with unvaccinated people (including children) from more than one other household, or visiting indoors with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 or who lives with a person at increased risk.
- You should still avoid indoor large gatherings.
- If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States. Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the U.S. are still required to get tested within 3 days of their flight (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.
- You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19 especially if you've been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
- You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.
- People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss their activities. They may need to keep taking all precautions to prevent COVID-19.
For more information about how to protect yourself and others, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html.
ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE
As the COVID vaccine becomes available for our patients, the fastest way to receive information from us is via email. To ensure you have an email address on file with us, please call our office at 402-484-4900 and request to add your email to your patient file.
Due to the ever-changing protocols surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, Nebraska Hematology-Oncology recommends visiting the following sites for the most up-to-date information regarding the rollout of the vaccine to the public. If you have questions regarding how the COVID-19 vaccine may impact your treatment, please contact us at 402-484-4900.
For Lincoln and Lancaster County Residents
Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department - covid19.lincoln.ne.gov
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services - dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/covid19vaccine
or if you live outside of the Lincoln/Lancaster County area, please contact your local health department.
ABOUT AN ADDITIONAL DOSE OF AN mRNA COVID-19 VACCINE (Booster)
Effective August 13, 2021, CDC recommends that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised receive an additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least 28 days after the completion of the initial mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. Available data show that these people don’t always build adequate levels of protection after an initial 2-dose primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. The data also show that they may benefit from receiving an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine to develop as much protection as possible against COVID-19.
Currently, CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose. This includes people who have:
- Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
- Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
- Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.
ABOUT the EVUSHELD ANTIBODY THERAPY
NHO is now able to treat high-risk patients with the Evusheld Antibody Therapy. This therapy is intended to provide an extra layer of protection against COVID-19 and is being administered based on a patient's risk and availability of the treatment. If you would like to know more about this therapy or to find out if it's currently available for you, please talk to your doctor.
The world health community continues to monitor and respond to the outbreak of COVID-19. Global efforts at this time are focused concurrently on lessening the spread and impact of this virus. We are taking proactive steps to address these concerns and limit your exposure.
Call NHO First: (402) 484-4900
At this time, we are calling all patients 24 hours before their appointment with precautionary questions. These questions are important to answer as detailed as possible and to the best of your ability to ensure the highest level of safety and preventative measures for staff and the community; we thank you in advance.
Before coming in: The overall objective is to limit exposure. We are urging all patients to call our office prior to their appointment if they have any reason to suspect that they have either been exposed to the coronavirus or if they believe they have symptoms such as fever, difficulty breathing, cough, body aches, headaches, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell.
Visitor Restrictions: Please know visitor restrictions are now in effect at Nebraska Hematology-Oncology, as well as many facilities in Lincoln.
For the safety of all, we continue to limit the number of people coming into the clinic. We are asking that only the patient come to the clinic for their appointment – however, if it is helpful, we will allow one caregiver to accompany you. It is our preference that your visitor also lives in the same household as you - to decrease outside exposure. They must be without symptoms and are required to wear a mask, or they will not be permitted access to the facility.
We understand these visitor restrictions may be difficult for you. While we are committed to providing a family-centered care environment, right now restricting visitors is in the best interest of our patients and staff. Much like you, we are awaiting the return of prior visitor policies once it is safe to do so.
What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
According to the CDC they are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Emergency warning signs are difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse and bluish lips or face. The symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure.
I think I have symptoms. Can I come to NHO to be tested?
As a non-primary care facility, Nebraska Hematology-Oncology, is not a testing facility. Please contact our office and we will discuss your symptoms and help facilitate the next course of action.
What if I have symptoms, but I think it’s just a cold or the flu? I need my treatment, should I still come?
Call NHO first, before coming in. If you have a fever, cough and body aches we will help facilitate the next course of action. If you learn you have contracted a contagious illness, your care team will work with you and your primary care physician accordingly to plan for your treatment needs.
How do I protect myself from the coronavirus?
Our physicians and facility are following the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Staying home when you are not feeling well
- Routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash
- Don’t touch your face
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures (6-feet).
There is so much information out now about the COVID-19. I am not sure what is factual or not true. How do I know or stay informed?
Our center is watching closely the information CDC is sharing. They are the credible lead source. Here is their website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Lincoln Lancaster Health Department COVID-19 hotline at 402-441-8006. A public hotline has been established for Nebraska residents with questions about COVID-19.