COVID-19 Local Information

October 25, 2020

Boca Beacon - October 25, 2020 Edition

The long road to recovery: Dealing with the lingering effects of COVID-19

 

BY THOMAS J ERVIN, M.D.

 

Doctors across the world are still trying to understand the long-term implications of COVID-19 – what health effects may look like after recovery, what impacts may resolve and what medical issues may linger. This was the focus of the second “Back to Boca” Grande Rounds webinar, hosted by the Boca Grande Health Center Foundation, Health Network Foundation and the Boca Grande Health Clinic, held on Oct. 6. The featured presenter was Dr. Laurie Jacobs, Chair, Department of Medicine at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey. This webinar is archived and can be viewed at bghcfoundation.com.

New Jersey has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As one of the state’s leaders in the treatment of COVID-19, Hackensack Meridian Health has cared for well over 12,000 patients battling this infection – more than any other health system in New Jersey. Through its experience in caring for these patients, Hackensack Meridian Health has developed the state’s first and only COVID-19 Recovery Center to provide a comprehensive post-COVID evaluation, along with support and treatment.

Dr. Jacobs reviewed the symptoms of acute COVID-19 infection and the symptoms and time course of both rapid (less than eight weeks) and prolonged (greater than 12 weeks) recovery from the disease.  

The take-home points presented included:

1. COVID-19 is not just another “flu.” Recovery within eight weeks from illness is, by far, the most common individual outcome of the disease. The potential for serious illness including death, and the possibility of a prolonged convalescent phase are real and must be recognized. 

2. Extensive medical evaluation for those hit the hardest. For the minority of patients experiencing prolonged convalescent symptoms, treatment, including early mobilization, cardiac and pulmonary monitoring, and comprehensive evaluation including general medical review by physicians with experience treating COVID-19 patients is recommended.

3. New treatment centers. Comprehensive treatment centers such as the program at Hackensack Meridian Health are being developed regionally to cope with the various symptoms and medical conditions associated with COVID-19 infection.

4. There’s reason for hope. Treatments being developed, including monoclonal antibodies, antiviral agents, and improved supportive hospital care will improve patient outcome in the future.

The lecture reminded us that lifestyle choices, including frequent hand washing, distancing, the regular use of face coverings when indoors or in crowds, and the avoidance of large crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, will continue for some time to come. Early relief from COVID-19 is unlikely and herd immunity is not viable without an effective vaccine. And, finally, we must all be patient, learn to trust one another to do the right thing for all, and support our scientific and political leaders (your choice here) to lead the country forward.

“Back to Boca” is a four-part free webinar series to provide sound facts about COVID-19, including recommendations for safe travel and safe living on island this season. Recordings of all webinars in the series can be found at bghcfoundation.com/webinar-series/.

 

Dr. Thomas Ervin is a physician at the Boca Grande Health Clinic.

 

 


 

Boca Beacon - October 16, 2020 Edition

A message from the Clinic:

Boca Grande Health Clinic COVID-19 testing: An overview of available options

Over the past six to eight months, the Boca Grande Health Clinic and its physicians have worked hard to provide a care environment that laid the foundation for the safe return of winter residents and the ongoing health of our Island community. This includes making COVID-19 testing available on the Island, to Clinic patients. The starting point is having a conversation with your physician. 

Additional testing options are available, including local CVS pharmacies, State Department of Health testing sites and even options for self-testing at home. We advise those who are interested in getting tested to contact their own healthcare provider or the Clinic to review your personal situation and get specific guidance on what is the best option in your individual case. 

There are basically two kinds of tests available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests. A viral test tells you if you have a current infection. An antibody test might tell you if you had a past infection.

The Clinic currently offers COVID-19 testing with a saliva PCR test, a molecular test that detects the virus’s genetic material. This is a test for active infection. You perform the test at home and ship the sample via FedEx Express. Results are usually available in one to three days. 

We will soon have the ability to perform rapid antigen testing. This test involves a nasal swab and tests for active infection. We will perform the rapid tests in a designated area outside of the Annex building. We also are available to provide a test for COVID-19 antibodies, which requires a blood draw and can give confirmation of a previous infection with COVID-19. 

We look forward to your return to Boca Grande. We encourage you to call us when you arrive on island, if at any time you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or if you ever have a known exposure to COVID-19 to discuss an appropriate testing protocol for your individual situation. 

Testing plays an important role in the overall approach to containing the virus. However, testing cannot replace the need to wear face coverings. When around others not in your household, keep a safe distance (at least six feet) while in public, avoid large gatherings (especially indoors), and wash your hands frequently.

Please see the table below for a quick at-a-glance view of the Clinic’s COVID-19 testing options.

Here are the current basics we have communicated for coming back to Boca Grande.  

1. BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

• Do not travel if you are ill.  

• Do not travel with someone else who is ill.  

• Find out the activity level of COVID-19 at your destination as well as all planned travels stops along the way.  

• Do not travel if you were exposed to COVID-19 within 14 days of travel.

 

2. WHEN YOU TRAVEL

• Remember that travel of any type increases the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. 

• Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public facilities.  

• Where possible, avoid close contact, adhering to the six-foot distancing recommendation.  

• Avoid unnecessary touches.  

• Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.  

 

3. UPON ARRIVAL

• If you arrive in Boca Grande with increased risk, consider extra protective measures. You might quarantine for 14 days or consider being tested. Talk to your Clinic physician about your options.

• Increased risk is considered if:

- You travel from an area or state with CDC Level 3 Health Travel Notice. Level 3 is defined as “COVID-19 Risk is High.” This information is available on the CDC website, see Travel Health Notices.

- You have been at a large social gathering, sporting event, wedding, or concert within 14 days of travel.  

- You have spent extended time in crowded airports.

-  You have traveled on a cruise ship or river boat within 14 days of travel. 


Boca Beacon - October 9, 2020 Edition

BY MARK DRISCOLL, CEO, BGHC

A message from the Clinic:

Our guide to a safe and healthy island

Over the past few months, the Boca Grande Health Clinic and its physicians have worked hard to provide a care environment that lays the foundation for the safe return of winter residents and the ongoing health of our Island community. Our actions have been guided by science and by a heartfelt desire to serve the best interests of you, our neighbors. We have received a lot of feedback, and for that I thank you, because we recognize that our fight against the Coronavirus will only be won with the support of the collective.   

It appears that COVID-19, the most unwelcome guest of the year, will be with us for quite a while, and we need to stay vigilant in order to keep the Island safe. With this in mind, and as “the season” begins, I’d like to summarize the many key accomplishments of the last 90 days.

 

The BG Pledge

First and foremost, more than 83 Island employers and 650 individuals have signed the Boca Grande Pledge to follow guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to go above and beyond to support one another and to keep one another and the entire Boca Grande community healthy and safe for everyone to enjoy for many years to come. If you haven’t taken the BG Pledge, please go to the clinic website, BGHC.org and sign up anytime.

Sanitizers

Over the summer, the Clinic provided hand sanitizer stations and no-contact thermometers to all businesses to help keep us all safer. 

Flu Shot Clinics

Our drive-thru flu shot clinics are operational and ready for use by our registered patients as well as the employees of island businesses who have signed the Boca Grande Pledge. Remaining clinics are open from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 14 and 15, Oct. 21 and 22, Oct. 28 and 29, Nov. 4 and 5, Nov. 11 and 12, and Nov. 18 and 19. The flu shots will be given under the Clinic Annex carport. Please call the Clinic Annex at 941-964-0490 to register for a flu shot time slot.   

Back to Boca Virtual Grande Rounds

In partnership with the Boca Grande Health Foundation and the Healthnetwork Foundation, the Clinic is sponsoring “Back to Boca,” a four-part virtual Grande Rounds educational series. The first two sessions have occurred and have received high satisfaction scores. The webinars are open to all. To register for the sessions, go to: https://bghcfoundation.com/webinar-series/. Recordings of the sessions can be found at https://bghcfoundation.com/webinar-series/.

Travel Guidelines and Voluntary Self-Quarantine

A risk score testing methodology and guidelines have been put in place to help you if you travel, have been exposed, or think you have been exposed. The Clinic has made many recommendations, including asking everyone to observe a voluntary 14-day quarantine, and to talk with your physician about potential COVID-19 testing.

New Care Precautions

Virtual visits will remain the starting point for most patient care; however, we have guidelines for in-person patient appointments as well. Please talk with your physician about what is best for your situation.

For those who visit us in person, we are continuing the practice of having separate care teams at the Clinic and the Annex. Starting in mid-October we will have patient schedules for both locations. This will be for both virtual appointments and in-person appointments. Testing and injections will be performed outside of the Annex in a tent set up for this purpose.

In addition, the Clinic has made substantial changes to care protocols to decrease the risk of transmitting the novel Coronavirus to patients or healthcare staff. This includes the purchase of protective gear for our healthcare workers, installation of protective screens, acquisition of testing kits and purchase of air purifiers and ongoing deep cleanings.

Testing

The Clinic currently offers COVID-19 testing with a saliva RT-PCR test, a molecular test that detects the virus’s genetic material. This is a test that you perform at home and ship via FedEx Express. Results are usually available in two to three days. This is a test for active infection. 

We will soon have the ability to perform rapid antigen testing. This test involves a nasal swab (not the deep one) and also tests for active infection. We will perform the rapid tests in a designated area at the Annex building. We also are available to provide a test for COVID-19 antibodies, which requires a blood draw and can give confirmation of a previous infection with COVID-19. We encourage you to call us when you return to Boca Grande to discuss an appropriate testing protocol for your individual situation if at any time you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or if you ever have a known exposure to COVID-19. 

We would like to remind everyone, though, that all tests have limitations, and a negative test for active infection does not replace any of the CDC recommendations for wearing a mask when around others not in your household, safe distancing and frequent hand-washing. 

Welcome Back Information

We are in the process of developing a “welcome back” kit to help returning residents get up to speed on how we’re managing through the Coronavirus pandemic. This kit will have copies of all the COVID-19-related information for quick and easy use. We will be announcing soon how this kit will be distributed.

Sustained Information and 

Communications

A big part of our Back to the Island plan is having an ongoing stream of communications to help keep our patients and the community in the know and promote safe and healthy living. With the assistance of the Boca Beacon, the Clinic remains committed to providing timely COVID-19 health news and information. 

Welcome Back

All of us at the Clinic are looking forward to seeing and hearing from all of you again soon.

 


 

Boca Beacon - October 9, 2020 Edition

SUBMITTED BY THE BGHC

 

A message from the Clinic:

World Mental Health Day reminds us it's OK to talk about how you're feeling

Mental illness. It’s almost as common as the everyday cold. Yet it’s considered by many a taboo subject. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness, and nearly 40 percent of them don’t seek treatment or help from others. 

It’s not just an adult issue. Mental health disorders are the most common diseases of childhood. Fifty percent of all lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14, and 75 percent by age 24. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34.

The negative stigma on mental health is a serious issue in today’s society. Raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health are the objectives of World Mental Health Day, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), and observed on October 10 every year. 

World Mental Health Day takes on even greater significance as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to weigh heavily on our society’s economic, physical and mental wellbeing. According to the WHO, “Fear, worry, and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats, and at times when we are faced with uncertainty or the unknown. So it is normal and understandable that people are experiencing fear in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a recent tracking poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a nonprofit organization that focuses on national health issues, 53 percent of adults in the United States reported in mid-July that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the Coronavirus, significantly higher than the 32 percent reported at the onset of the disease in March. The consequences are many: difficulty sleeping or eating, increases in alcohol consumption or substance use and worsening chronic conditions due to worry and stress over the Coronavirus. 

“The statistics are sobering,” said Boca Grande Health Clinic’s Raymond James, D.O., who advises that the first step to addressing – and redressing – the stigma of mental health is a willingness to talk about it openly. “If you know someone who might be struggling, approach the person respectfully and ask how they are doing. Provide help by listening, understanding and showing acceptance.”

Mental health plays a major role in people’s ability to maintain good physical health. Your primary care physician is a good starting point if you are seeking assistance with your mental health. 

There are ways to get help. Use these resources to find help for yourself, a friend or a family member.

• Infographic: Coping with stress during the 2019-nCov outbreak (WHO)

• Tips and Advice for Looking After Our Mental Health (WHO)

• Online support group meetings are available through NAMI Florida, the state affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, whose mission is to improve the quality of life of individuals and their families affected by mental illness through education, support and advocacy.

Be sure to get immediate help in a crisis.

• Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, or go to the nearest emergency room.

• Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454

The Lifeline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Lifeline connects callers to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals. People who are deaf, hard of hearing or have hearing loss can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.

• Crisis Text Line:  Text “HELLO” to 741741

The Crisis Text hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the U.S. The Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, connecting them with a crisis counselor who can provide support and information.

For the first time ever, the WHO will host a global online advocacy event on mental health on Oct.10. The three-hour event will feature world leaders and celebrities and will be streamed live on major social media channels. Information on how to watch can be found at The Big Event for Mental Health.

 


 

Boca Beacon - October 2, 2020 Edition

SUBMITTED BY THE BGHC

 

A message from the Clinic:

Boca Grande Health Clinic celebrates Primary Care Week

 A few weeks ago, a phone call was received at the History Center. The caller was not familiar with Gasparilla Island but had found the Historical Society’s website and was interested in information regarding the early phosphate industry especially the Bowker Chemical Company.  Jim Blaha, chairman of the History Center committee, researched the company and responded with the information. He learned that the caller had early documents from Bowker and from the American Agricultural Chemical Company, the Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway, the Peace River Mining Company, the Boca Grande Land Company and its successor the Boca Grande Corporation, the companies that established commercial Boca Grande.  

Last Friday, six books of original documents arrived in Boca Grande.  Included with them was a note that said, “I’m so glad we found your society to deed the documents to preserve their place in your community.” 

The documents provide minutes of directors’ meetings dating from 1902 to the sale of the remaining Boca Grande Corporation lots to Henry Schwartz and Sunset Realty for $200,000 in 1945. The early documents are hand-written while later ones are typewritten.  

Many of the names are interesting including that of Albert W. Gilchrist, Florida’s 20th governor, and John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under Eisenhower, who was a director of the Boca Grande Corporation in 1927 as well as Peter Bradley, Robert Bradley, Burdett Loomis, Jr. and others who served as directors.

Jim Blaha said that the documents are in good shape and will now be wrapped in acid-free tissue, placed in individual acid-free storage containers and stored in safe, climate-controlled conditions. The contents will be indexed and digitized so that they are readily accessible to researchers and anyone who wants to view their contents. After the History Center has made a more complete evaluation, it may determine that the documents should receive the attention of a professional preservationist.    

Blaha adds that it will take time to digest all the information contained in these books but as primary source materials, they are first-hand accounts of island history and a direct link to the past. For example, minutes from a 1914 meeting discuss the building of sixteen homes for fishermen and workers, a store and a machine shop for a total expense of $5,750. At the same meeting, the directors discussed the exchange of lots with the Episcopal Church which was being negotiated between one of the directors and the Episcopal Bishop.

RoseMarie Blaha, formerly a librarian/media specialist, notes that documents like these are rare. The only similar set she knows of are at the Florida State University library. 

“It is a testament to our History Center that we have been given such wonderful primary sources,” she said.

Jim added that the documents “add to his appreciation for the early families and workers as well as the companies that made the history of the island so unique.” 

The History Center would like to add to its present collection with photographs, letters, deeds, newspapers, films and any other materials that people might like to deed to the Center. The History Center will help with information as to how to deed materials to it. Alternatively, one may lend historical materials to the Center so that they can be digitized and preserved for the community then returned to the owner.

To learn more about the history of Boca Grande and Gasparilla Island, visit the History Center website <https://bocagrandehistoricalsociety.com>, like us on Facebook, or when open, visit the History Center at 170 Park Ave. or call 964-1600.  

 

The History Center welcomes input from all. Please send comments or questions to bocagrandehistoricalsociety@gmail.com

 

 


 

Boca Beacon - September 25, 2020 Edition

 BY DR. TOM ERVIN

A message from the Clinic:

What to think about and plan for before you travel, during travel, & when you arrive on the island

It is fall again. The wind is freshening and more from the north. There is a morning chill, and the lazy days of summer are becoming shorter. It is time to find the sweater drawer. And it is time to think about the return to Boca Grande.  Normally, the prospect of the return south would be a pleasant event. But with COVID-19 not yet in the rear-view mirror, there are additional issues to consider and prepare for.  It all starts with travel. What are the new rules of reentry and social behavior? It is important to all concerned that one’s return to Boca Grande, or anywhere else, is done with full understanding and regard for the continued threat of the pandemic.Assuming that the returning persons are well, there are guidelines for both traveling and after you travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to update the community guidelines in accordance with the degree of disease activity and the scientific understanding of the pandemic as it evolves. Please consult the CDC.gov website for specific guidance regarding travel and reentry.  Although it seems like an eternity since COVID-19 struck, it is really only six to eight months ago that we were asked to change our behavior in an attempt to control the pandemic. Some of the changes are becoming routine to many, but not all participate. We must all emphasize community safety in our daily behavior.  So, at the risk of being repetitive, here are the current basics for coming back to Boca Grande.  

Before you travel

• Do not travel if you are ill.  

• Do not travel with someone else who is ill.  

• Find out the activity level of COVID-19 at your destination as well as all planned travel stops along the way.  

• Do not travel if you were exposed to COVID-19 within 14 days of travel.

When you travel

Remember that travel of any type increases the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. Protect yourself and others.  

• Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public facilities.  

• Where possible, avoid close contact, adhering to the six-foot distancing recommendation.  

• Avoid unnecessary touches.  

• Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.  

These behaviors have become the new standard for most public settings. The evidence for the effectiveness of wearing face masks and social distancing is supported by the CDC and the World Health Organization.

 In addition, anticipate your travel needs. Make sure you have enough medicine for the entire trip. Avoid unnecessary travel stops when possible.  

But let’s go on. It is time to get to Boca Grande at last. 

When you arrive

Check the status of COVID-19 activity for Florida (currently getting better as of this writing), and for Boca Grande specifically (33921 zip code on the Florida COVID-19 website). Remember that you and your arriving family pose a risk to your friends and community for 14 days after arrival, so maintain routine protective social behavior. If you arrive in Boca Grande with increased risk, consider extra protective measures. You might quarantine for 14 days or consider being tested. More information will be coming on testing options in the near future.

You might ask what constitutes increased risk. Increased risk is considered if:

1. You travel from an area or state with CDC Level 3 Health Travel Notice. Level 3 is defined as “COVID-19 risk is high.” This information is available on the CDC website; see Travel Health Notices.

2. You have been at a large social gathering, sporting event, wedding or concert within 14 days of travel.  

3. You have spent extended time in crowded airports.

4. You have traveled on a cruise ship or river boat within 14 days of your travel to Florida.

Air travel in and of itself, while of some theoretical risk, is not considered of high risk due to better spacing and improvements in air circulation and filtration systems.  

So, there you are. You are back in beautiful, quiet Boca Grande. Please have a happy and healthy 2020-2021 season, but continue to protect yourself, your family, and your friends on this wonderful island. To take the Boca Grande Pledge, please go to the Clinic’s website, BGHC.org and sign up anytime.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Boca Beacon - September 18, 2020 Edition

 BY DR. LAUREN HANA

A message from the Clinic:

 What if you've been exposed to Covid-19?

What should I do if I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?

This is a question we are hearing more often these days as COVID-19 continues to work its way around every corner. Although Florida’s numbers are down slightly, COVID-19 is still here.  

Overall case numbers and percent positivity of new cases are down to a daily new case average, around 2,600 for the week ending September 12 from a peak of over 15,000 on July 12. 

According to the Florida Department of Health statistics, cases just off island in the Placida zip code of 33946 continue to inch up every couple of days to 26 as of September 14. And our own zip code of 33921 that had less than five cases since mid-March. Our total increased on August 20 to five cases and remains at five as of September 14.

Holidays like Labor Day, school being back in session and the approaching return of our seasonal residents, visitors, tourists and guests all bring a population influx – and an increased chance of additional risk and exposure will also come across the causeway bridge. 

Below is information and guidance summarizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) most recent recommendations if you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone that tested positive for COVID-19 or someone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. 

The CDC lists the following as symptoms to watch. Remember, symptoms can be varied and range from mild to severe and this list may not be all-inclusive as this virus continues to show us new things every day.

Symptoms include: Fever or chills; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; Fatigue; Muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting; diarrhea.

If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms, follow the CDC’s guidance:

1. Call 911 or have someone call 911 for you if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, confusion or blue lips or fingertips.

2. STAY HOME and ISOLATE/QUARANTINE. These two things are basically the same thing, just different terms depending on if you are sick (isolate) or have been exposed (quarantine). Here’s what you should do for BOTH isolation and quarantine: Stay in your own room and away from others in your own home; use your own bathroom if possible;  wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose if you have to be in common spaces in your home and others in your home should do the same when they are in contact with you; avoid sharing food, dishes, towels and bedding with others; leave your home only for medical care – not for a haircut, not to get groceries, not to go to the post office. Get someone else to help with those things during this time. 

Note: If you are sick and isolating, the others in your household should quarantine since they have been exposed. 

3. Notify your healthcare provider of your symptoms or that you have tested positive for COVID-19 so you can be monitored in case your condition changes. If you do not have a healthcare provider, call the Boca Grande Health Clinic (BGHC) at (941) 964-2276.

4. Monitor your temperature and symptoms TWICE daily and keep a record. (A self-monitoring log to print can be found on the Clinic’s website at bghc.org.) Check in with your healthcare provider every two to three days to give an update. If at any time you develop chest pain, shortness of breath, confusion or blue lips or fingertips; call 911 or have someone call 911 for you.

5. Rest and stay hydrated. 

6. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least a 60 percent alcohol base frequently.

7. Clean common surfaces in your home regularly with a disinfectant approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to kill the Coronavirus. 

8. Review your activities back to two days PRIOR to testing positive or two days PRIOR to developing symptoms. If you were in close contact with anyone during that time (close contact is defined as within six feet for more than 15 minutes, especially if one of you was not covering your mouth and nose, but even if both did have face coverings), you should notify them that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 so they can take the appropriate steps and quarantine.

When can my isolation/quarantine end?

If you tested positive for COVID-19 or had symptoms of COVID-19, you may end isolation when: You have not had a fever for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications like Tylenol or ibuprofen ... AND ... whatever symptoms you had are improved ... AND ... it has been at least 10 days since you developed symptoms or if you never developed any symptoms (were asymptomatic), it has been at least 10 days since you tested positive.

If you were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or someone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you may end your quarantine when:

• 14 days have passed since your last contact with the person, as long as you did not develop symptoms or test positive yourself. 

The BGHC is available for you if you have further questions or are in need of care. Stay healthy and safe and thank you for helping our community to do the same. 

 

What if my child was exposed?

If my child was exposed to COVID-19 and has to quarantine, do I also have to quarantine? Technically, no, since you didn’t actually have an exposure (unless your own child tested positive or you are ill). However, this depends on a lot of things related to how easily and consistently your child is able to quarantine in your own home. If you have young children that require care and supervision, it’s best to err on the side of being cautious and quarantine yourself as well. 

If I or my family member was exposed to COVID-19, should I get tested?

Recent guidance has left testing for asymptomatic exposure up to the individual or advises you to consult with your healthcare provider for appropriate guidance according to your own level of risk.  

When should I get tested?

If you would like to get tested, there are a few important things to keep in mind. The best time to test is around five to seven days after the exposure. We know that most people will develop symptoms by about seven days after an exposure, though it can be as long as 14 days after exposure in a few cases. 

In order to minimize the chance of a false negative test, the virus needs to have some time to replicate in order to allow for detection by the testing, so testing too early has a higher likelihood of a falsely negative test when the person is actually infected. If you develop symptoms, then you should be tested one to three days into your symptoms. 

Where can I get tested?

If you would like to get tested, there are multiple options in the area, depending on the day, including local CVS pharmacies, the BGHC, State Department of Health testing sites and even options for self-testing at home. 

Please call the BGHC or your own healthcare provider to review your personal situation and get specific guidance on what is the best option in your individual case.

 

Dr. Lauren Hana is a physician with the Boca Grande Health Clinic

 


 

Boca Beacon - September 11, 2020 Edition

 BY MARK DRISCOLL

A message from the Clinic:

 Getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever

 Before coming back to the island this year, please get a flu shot. If you are working on the island, please get a flu shot. It does not matter where you get your flu shot, but making it a priority to get one matters a great deal.  

   Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this year will help to reduce your risk from the flu. Please keep in mind that it is possible to contract both the Coronavirus and the flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter. That means healthcare systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with COVID-19. Getting a flu shot can help save precious healthcare resources for the care of patients with COVID-19. And that’s why getting a flu shot is vital.

   The Boca Grande Health Clinic will be operating drive-through flu shot clinics for our registered patients as well as the employees of island businesses who have signed the Boca Grande Pledge. The flu shots will be given under the Clinic Annex carport. Please call the Clinic Annex at 964-0490 to register for a flu shot time slot.   

   Drive-through flu shot clinics will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on the following days:

October 1, October 8, October 14 and 15, October 21 and 22, October 28 and 29, November 4 and 5, November 11 and 12, and November 18 and 19.

   Additional flu clinic hours will be added if needed. Since it takes about two weeks after you receive the vaccine for your body to build up the antibodies to fight the flu, it’s never too soon to plan your flu shot. 

   While some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, the most important ways to prevent either are the same:  wash your hands often with soap and water, wear face coverings when out in public spaces, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you become sick.

 

 

 


 

Boca Beacon - September 4, 2020 Edition

SUBMITTED BY DR. LAUREN HANA

A message from the Clinic:

 Thoughts about gatherings and herd immunity

These are just a few thoughts about gatherings and COVID-19 (by popular demand).

First, let’s start with a definition of a term we are all hearing thrown around a lot lately: Herd immunity. Herd immunity is the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, through recovering from the illness or through vaccination. 

What is the threshold for herd immunity for COVID-19? The threshold for all infectious diseases is based on a calculation.

1-(1/R0) = the threshold for herd immunity

R0 (pronounced “R naught”) is the infectivity of the disease. That is, how many other people will one infected person infect. For COVID-19 this number has been determined to be two to three. One infected person is expected to infect two to three other people. To put that into understandable context, one unchecked case of COVID-19 will lead to 31 more cases over the following four weeks if no precautions are taken. 

The incubation period, contact time (exposure) needed to infect and the route (or routes) of transmission are used to the calculate the R0. The goal is to get this number to less than one and the disease will extinguish itself.

The calculation then for COVID-19 (using 2.5 for R0) is 1-(1/2.5)= 0.6

This means that herd immunity should develop if 60 percent of the population become immune (through infection that leads to immunity or effective vaccination).

In order to decrease this threshold (make the number of immune persons to achieve herd immunity fewer), the R0 has to decrease. To decrease R0 (infectivity), infectious cases need to be promptly isolated and situations of high exposure need to be eliminated. The only variable in this equation we can affect is exposure. All other variables remain constant. The incubation period and route(s) of transmission are not adjustable. So, it’s all about R0. Decrease your exposures and you decrease your risk.

Enough already with the science. We’ve all gotten over the novelty of virtual happy hours and Zoom birthday parties, and want to know if we can get together with our families and friends.

The risk stratifying table below might help with attending and/or planning an event. It is by no means all-inclusive and as in real life, many factors will fall into gray zones. Use it as a guide to determine how many of your “exposure points” you will be spending and if you are comfortable with the risk.

Questions to ask as a guest: • Will everyone be asked to wear a face covering? • Will distancing reminders be clearly marked? • Will masks and sanitizer be readily available? • Will attendance be limited? • Will anyone from outside the area be attending? 

• Will I be comfortable with my risk in this situation?

Politely decline the invitation if you are ill, have been exposed to someone ill or have recently traveled (long flight, returned from a “hot spot”, international travel or multi-state travel).

Guidance for hosting: • Open windows and doors or stay outdoors (don’t forget insect and climate control) • Clean and disinfect your venue before and after (pay special attention to common touch areas like light switches, doorknobs, faucets, flushers, cabinet pulls, refrigerator and garbage bin handles) • Provide adequate space for appropriate distancing (have a seating chart) • Limit your guest list • Make masks, sanitizer and disinfectant wipes readily available (at the entryway and strategically placed throughout the venue) • Organize entertainment that allows for distancing (charades, distanced dancing, BINGO?) • Considerations if a meal is planned (disposable place settings, including drink and flatware, seat households together, adequate spacing between tables, individual servings that are plated or served by a single (solitary, not unmarried!) masked attendant with clean hands, consider a “BYO” beach party (Bring Your Own: food and drink, place settings, chairs, beach blanket), avoid finger foods or passing trays of hors d’oeuvres, serve individually plated cupcakes or key lime tarts for dessert.

• Graciously understand and expect some to decline the invitation. Special considerations include: • Bathrooms: Clear the air (use the exhaust fan), cover (close the lid prior to flushing), wash (your hands), wipe (grab a disinfectant wipe to open the door and then wipe the outside knob, too). Post the “rules” on a sign on the inside door of the bathroom. Have disinfectant wipes and soap supply replenished regularly. Have a foot pedal operated garbage can outside the door for the used disinfectant wipes; • Verbalization: Louder, stronger, more forceful vocalization allows a greater amount of respiratory droplets of all sizes to be propelled into the environment and travel farther distances • Shouting, laughing, yawning, sighing, singing, choking, coughing and sneezing as well as talking and breathing are all thought to aerosolize viral particles.

My pet peeve is the statement, “Face coverings are recommended when social distancing is not possible.” Studies have shown that shouting, coughing or laughing without a mask allows aerosolization of droplets 8-12 feet from the source. So, if you are not covering your face, stay at least 12 feet away from others. It is not one or the other, masking, distancing and handwashing together will help stop the spread of COVID-19. Remember, no activity is zero risk. Our own choices impact others around us; make wise ones. We can do this safely with thought and innovation.

Most importantly, be kind and respect your neighbor! 

 

Boca Beacon - August 28, 2020 Edition

SUBMITTED BY DR. LAUREN HANA

A message from the Clinic:

 A new voice on the subject of COVID-19

  Hello Boca Grande Clinic Community, I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself and say hello. I am Mark Driscoll, the new CEO of the Boca Grande Health Clinic. I have been with the clinic now for almost two months, and I look forward to meeting all of you over the coming year.It has been more than six months since we all first heard about COVID-19. A lot has changed since then, but the clinic’s focus on your health and safety has not wavered. A lot of work has been accomplished, and you will be hearing from the clinic frequently over the next few months about how we are continuously improving our patient safety focus.I am hopeful that most of you have heard about the Boca Grande Pledge and the work behind it. The pledge was developed by Dr. Lauren Hana at the clinic, along with members of island businesses and organizations, indicating their support for wearing masks and other important actions to slow the spread of the virus.  To date, 75 businesses and more than 600 individuals have made this commitment. As a result of this strong effort to follow CDC guidelines, the island is much safer than it was several months ago.

The clinic has a long tradition of excellent patient safety and clinical care.  I want to tell you a little bit of what we have accomplished recently.

• The clinic and the Boca Grande Clinic Annex will continue to have separate care teams of clinic staff. This will help keep patient care going at one clinic site if there is an exposure at the other.

• A patient screening guideline has been developed. This is important because you will know what to do when you come to the clinic. This guideline will continue to be revised as new information becomes available.

• What happens if you have been exposed? The clinic has developed a protocol that details exactly what you should do. In addition, the clinic has the ability to schedule COVID-19 testing for patients and employers. The starting point is your clinic primary care physician who begins the process.

• The clinic staff can now work from home, if needed. New computers and the related equipment have been installed. This new upgrade will provide a more robust computer network for quicker and more efficient access.

• A “command center” meeting has been implemented twice a month.   This meeting includes clinic members, community members, and clinic board participants. This meeting ensures that all parties can stay informed and up to date on activities and education.

• Personal protection equipment has been stockpiled in anticipation of shortages. This means the clinic has the gloves, masks, and gowns needed to continue clinical operations into the future.

• We want to ensure the cleanest clinical facilities possible. To that end, air duct cleaning is in process. Installation of a state-of-the-art air purifying system will be installed in the clinic and the annex. An additional deep COVID-19 cleaning process will also occur weekly. All these measures are being implemented to keep our facilities as clean and safe as possible.

• The clinic has learned a lot about virtual visits over the last six months.   New hardware and software are being implemented that will improve the virtual visit patient experience. You will be hearing more about this over the coming months.

• The clinic website is a good site for COVID-19 information. We are in the process of revising and updating the website to be more relevant and easier to use.

The bottom line is that we are working hard to keep you informed and educated about efforts and results.

We are developing a comprehensive “Back to the Island Plan” that will be unveiled over the coming weeks. Our hope is that all the communication pieces and related vehicles that we are developing will help to answer your questions.Please feel free to contact me at mark.driscoll@bghc.org with any questions or comments.

 

Mark Driscoll is the CEO of the Boca Grande Health Clinic.


Boca Beacon - August 21, 2020 Edition

Businesses who signed the BG Pledge

A big THANK YOU to all the businesses and organizations listed below, as well as to the 622 and counting community members that have “taken the BG pledge” to do their best to keep Boca Grande healthy and safe! 

Banyan Tree Pilates and yoga • Bella Vida Boca Grande • Boca Grande North HOA • Boca Grande Club and BGC HOA • Boca Bay Associations • Boca Bay HOA • Boca Bay Pass Club • Boca Beacon • Boca Blooms •Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce • Boca Grande Fire Department • Boca Grande Health Clinic • Boca Grande Health Clinic Foundation •Boca Grande HOA, Inc •Boca Grande Isles POA •Boca Grande Marina • Boca Grande Men’s Club

Boca Grande North Condo Assoc • Boca Grande Preschool •Boca Grande Realty Advisors, LLC • Boca Grande Resort/Palmetto Inn • Boca Grande Travel • Boca Grande Woman’s Club • Charlotte Heart and Vascular Institute • Courtyard Hair ETC. • Englewood Bank & Trust • Friends of Boca Grande Community Center • Fugates • Gasparilla Outfitters • Giacinti Contracting, Inc. • GIBA • GICIA • Gilchrist Interiors • GIWA • Grande Aire • Grande Property Services (Boca Grande Isles and Gulf Shores North POA’s) • Grande Quay HOA • Gulf Shores North POA •Gulf to Bay Sothebys Realty • Hudson’s Grocery • Island dog boutique and supply co • Boca Grande Pledge - Business List • Italiano Insurance • J.McLaughlin • James Griffith Salon at the Gasparilla Inn & Club • Kappy’s Market • Made to Inspire • McHugh Porter Builders • Michael P. Haymans Attorney At Law, P.A. • Michael Sanders and Company • Miller’s Dockside • Miravi Palms • Our Lady of Mercy Parish •Paradise Exclusive Real Estate • Parsley Baldwin Real Estate • Peterson Property Management • Pink Pony • Royal Palm Players • Scarpa’s Coastal • Seawatch HOA

Special Effects of Boca Grande, Inc. • The BRC Group, LLC and Boca Grande Vacations • The Gasparilla Inn • The Island School • The Johann Fust Library Foundation • The Loose Caboose • The Seale Family, Inc • The Sun Porch

The Temptation • Third Street Bistro • Uncle Henry’s Marina Assoc. •VenWood Awards Inc. • Whidden’s Marina • Yusk Construction

 

Touch-free hand sanitizer machines are still available, along with face masks and no-contact thermometers, for any business or organization that has signed the pledge. Please email requests to cannon@bghcfoundation.com for more information or to schedule pick up or delivery time.We are in this together and together we can make a difference! Thank you from 411 Island Community Coalition, supporting the Boca Grande community through education, awareness and cooperation.


 

Boca Beacon - August 21, 2020 Edition

SUBMITTED BY DR. LAUREN HANA

A message from the Clinic:

Taking a much-needed break? Get back to work safely

A lot of questions have come up in the last few months about dealing with   COVID-19 illness, symptoms or exposures involving individuals in the workplace or elsewhere. This prompted the post of relevant information on these topics on the Boca Grande Health Clinic website at BGHC.org. An additional question more recently has been how a business should handle a return to work for an employee who has traveled or gone on vacation.

Let me say first that any governmental rules take precedence. For instance, Governor DeSantis’ executive order in March required anyone entering Florida from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to quarantine for 14 days. This order was just recently lifted on August 6. International travel may have quarantine restrictions in place by federal or state authorities on return to the U.S. 

I would also note that nonessential travel continues to be discouraged during a global pandemic.  However, it would be hard to argue that getting away and taking a break would not be considered essential to everyone’s mental health and sanity at this point!

I spoke about 6 weeks ago with a friend who remembered reading an article in a prominent newspaper that likened calculating COVID-19 risk to counting Weight Watchers points, and I thought that was a good way to think about analyzing risk: in “exposure points.” She noted that she prefers to spend her “exposure points” on her family. So, if she wanted to spend time with her grandkids, she might stock up on groceries so she could skip a trip to the grocery store that week. Or she could put off a trip to the salon to get her hair or nails done for two more weeks to allow for family time instead. 

The following risk tool is what the BGHC is using to help employees safely return to work. It is directed at healthcare workers and can be used as a guide, but each individual business should make modifications as appropriate for their particular situation. 

 

RETURN TO WORK AFTER NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL RISK TOOL

Method of Travel: Air = 2 Car = 1

Location(s) visited: Hot = 3 Medium = 2 Not = 1

Potential Exposures: High Risk = 3 (close contact for 15 minutes or more or repeated contact, EITHER you OR your contact NOT wearing mask)

Low Risk = 1 (Masks worn by both you and your contact, hands washed, limited exposure time, distancing practiced)

   THEN TOTAL YOUR SCORE.          

   0-4 POINTS: Follow low-risk exposure protocol

   5 OR MORE POINTS: Follow high-risk exposure protocol

 

Definitions:

Low risk protocol = no restriction from work, self-monitoring for symptoms for 14 days.

High risk protocol: Restrict from work/work from home, active monitoring for symptoms by supervisor for 14 days (Self-monitoring and Active monitoring log sheets can also be found on our website at BGHC.org).

I use the rolling seven-day average percent positivity for the travel destination. This information can be found on each State’s Department of Health website, at least by county and sometimes even by zip code. “Hot” spot = 15 percent or higher positivity rate “Medium”  = 11-14 percent positivity rate “Not” hot spot  = 10 percent and under positivity rate Close Contact = within six feet

 

Three examples: 

 Mike went camping with his family in Birchwood, Wisconsin, August 1- August 14, 2020.They drove a rented RV. He was not in close contact with anyone outside of his household. Wisconsin has a statewide mask mandate so everyone was required to wear a mask. The rolling seven day average positivity rate for Washburn County Wisconsin is 0.4 percent. Mike’s total score is 1 + 1 + 1 = 3. So he will return to work and self-monitor for any symptoms for 14 days and return his completed log to his employer and immediately report development of any symptoms. 

Another example:

Lisa went to Key West, Florida, to celebrate her birthday with her family. They took the Key West Express.  Monroe County has a mask mandate and everyone on the boat and on land in Keys is required to wear a mask. She remarks that police were even out on the streets enforcing the mandate. She always wore her mask and was not in close contact with anyone without a mask. The rolling 7 day average positivity in Monroe County in Florida is 12 percent.Lisa’s total score is 1 + 2 + 1 = 4. So she will return to work and self-monitor for any symptoms for 14 days and return her completed log to her employer and immediately report development of any symptoms. 

A third example: Jessa went to Las Vegas for a bachelorette party. When she arrived at the airport in Las Vegas, she met up with the bride-to-be and nine more of her friends that also flew to Las Vegas from California, Arizona, Illinois and New Mexico. They had not seen each other in “ages” and ate out at restaurants, drank and basically “threw caution to the wind”.  Sometimes they wore masks but not always and to save money, they all shared two hotel rooms. The rolling seven day average positivity in Las Vegas, Nevada, is 16 percent.

Jessa’s total score is 2 + 3 + 3 = 8. So she will be restricted from returning to on-site work and work from home for 14 days while being actively monitored daily by her supervisor. She will immediately report development of any symptoms to her supervisor. 

(Disclaimer: The individuals, their trips and the actual percent positivity for the locations mentioned in the examples above are fictitious and only used to illustrate the point of the risk tool.) 

Obviously, these examples are fairly clear cut and real life situations will all be unique. The bottom line is; we all have to continue to encourage our employees to make smart choices, remember that the process remains based on honesty and trust and that there is really no activity that has ZERO risk. Stay well!

 


 

Boca Beacon - August 21, 2020 Edition

BY MARCY SHORTUSE

Students, teachers prepare to head back to classes at The Island School in a sea of questions and concerns from parents

As the doors prepare to open at The Island School on August 31, plans are being made to keep children and staff as safe as possible. The first step in the process will be to hold the traditional open house on several nights, virtually.

On Monday, Aug. 24 the first virtual open house via Zoom will be held, for children in fifth grade with teachers Jane Bengston, Lisa Brown, Head-of-School Jean Thompson, and Nicole Tillotson-Main. On Tuesday, Aug. 25 at 5:30 p.m. the kindergarten class will meet on Zoom with teacher Theresa O’Connor. On Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. the 3rd and 4th grade classes will meet on Zoom with teachers Dorothy Rahal and J.T. Tremaine. On Thursday, Aug. 27 at 5:30 p.m. the 1st grade class will meet with Stephanie Perrin Shirback, and on Friday, Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m. all second graders with meet with teacher Rebecca Blalock. At each open house teachers will speak first for about 10 minutes. Then, Thompson will follow up with general procedures and answer any questions. When the school year begins, everyone who enters the building must wear a mask. This includes teachers, students, and anyone else who has permission to enter. Parents will not be able to enter the building, with exceptions that are pre-arranged. This year will be much different for many reasons. For instance, all students must bring a backpack that can be placed on the back of their seat. Inside the backpack, students should bring their lunch in a container that does not require refrigeration (or holds an ice pack), a snack, a water bottle and a beach towel. The towel will be used for the multiple trips the children will make outside, to sit under the trees and take a break from wearing their masks (while social distancing).  This year students will not have the option of being dropped off early for morning care, as there will be no open common areas. Doors to classrooms open at 8:15 a.m., and school starts at 8:30 a.m. The amount of children attending afterschool care will be limited this year. The school is asking parents to only send their children if the parents are working past 3 p.m. One of the biggest changes will be that the children will stay in the their same small class groups for the duration of each day. Students will arrive at their individual external classroom doors, and they will enter into the building after having their temperature checked. They will leave school the same way, and parents will wait outside for them. “The goal is to have students physically present in school,” Thompson said. “The Island School’s reopening plan is based on recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The four areas of critical focus that include face coverings, hand hygiene, social distancing and reduction of high-touch surfaces will provide students, teachers, and families with the most protection possible in the school environment. “We are reviewing all facets of the school day to take critical focus areas into consideration and determine how to best implement them. “In addition to looking at the physical environment and changes that must be made, we are preparing for a fluid, flexible learning environment that includes both brick and mortar (in-school learning) and remote/distance learning. A stricter sick policy for students and staff members with fevers, cough, or upper respiratory symptoms will also be in place.” Thompson said changes are possible at any time, and that local health department numbers and suggestions from local health organizations will be followed.


 

Boca Beacon - August 7, 2020 Edition

BY SUSAN BOWERS

You bet your life I took the pledge ...

More than anything, I want my friends and neighbors on Boca Grande to stay well. It is our cherished home. I have never met fi ner people or had better, more loyal friends. They all live right here on our precious island. And the children, good heavens, they are the highlight of my days. I want to sincerely thank the Boca Grande Health Clinic and all the Island organizations who have created the Island Community Pledge. Please sign it with me.We all need to be respectful, kind, considerate and concerned for others. Please do your part to help us all

stay healthy and safe. Read and sign the Boca Grande Community Pledge. We need to work together to help stop the spread of COVID 19 now and for all the better days to come.


Boca Beacon - August 31, 2020 Edition

BY MARCY SHORTUSE

Clinic ‘Pledge’ drive picking up speed with businesses and residents

New hand sanitizing stations to turn up soon around town at local businesses

Keeping Boca Grande safe is the number one goal of the Boca Grande Health Clinic, and their newest initiative, “the Boca Grande Pledge,” seems to be working. After just one week, 34 businesses and 528 individuals have signed the pledge, which was designed to educate the public regarding the best ways to stay protected from the virus. In a sea of COVID-19 questions and more than a little misinformation, the Clinic hopes that the pledge breaks down the most pertinent information for island residents and businesses which will be the best route in keeping island residents, shopkeepers and visitors as safe as possible. One of the initiatives the Clinic has taken is to acquire 70 hand sanitizing machines that will be placed strategically around town. Clinic representatives hope the hand sanitizer to fi ll them will be delivered in the next few

days, and then they can determine the best places to put them. Keep reading the Boca Beacon for more information regarding this initiative. As the Clinic stated last week, “We are in this together and together we can make a difference!” Visit surveymonkey.com/r/Boca-GrandePledge (or scan the QR codewith your phone) for more informationand to take the Boca Grande pledge.


Boca Beacon - July 24, 2020 Edition

FROM THE BOCA GRANDE HEALTH CLINIC (BGHC)

TAKE THE "BOCA GRANDE PLEDGE"

   Boca Grande has always been unique and comes to hold a special place in the hearts of all who have the opportunity to experience the island.
The Boca Grande Health Clinic, the Boca Grande Health Clinic Foundation, Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association, Boca Grande Fire Department, Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce, Gasparilla Island Water Association, Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority, Boca Grande Homeowners Association and Boca Grande Club, Inc., Boca Bay Homeowners Associations and Boca Bay Pass Club together with the Boca Grande Woman’s Club, Gasparilla Inn, Friends of Boca Grande Community Center, The Island School, the Boca Beacon, Grande Quay Homeowners Association, Boca Grande North Homeowners Association and Grande Property Services, Boca Grande Isles and Gulf Shores North Property Owners Associations want to invite everyone including all local businesses, organizations and all individual community members of all ages to join us in a united effort to keep Boca Grande healthy and safe and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
   We hope everyone will join us in pledging to commit ourselves to go above and beyond to support one another and to keep one another and the entire Boca Grande community healthy and safe for everyone to enjoy for many years to come. We are in this together and together we can make a difference!
 
The pledge reads as follows (for individuals). 

             

                                 Boca Grande Pledge from Our Island Community 

As part of our tight-knit island community, I/We pledge to do my/our best to keep each other healthy and safe, by supporting our local businesses, friends, and neighbors, by following the guidelines of the CDC and recommendations of the Boca Grande Health Clinic.  
  • I/We pledge to support local businesses by shopping and dining locally whenever possible.
  • I/We pledge to practice physical distancing by staying the recommended six feet apart from others.
  • I/We pledge to wear a face mask while frequenting island establishments and businesses and when I am in public.
  • I/We pledge to refrain from touching surfaces whenever possible and keep my hands away from my face.
  • I/We pledge to wash my hands with soap and water for the suggested twenty seconds or use hand-sanitizer frequently.
  • I/We pledge to cover my face when I cough or sneeze and then use hand-sanitizer again.
  • I/We pledge to stay home and follow the quarantine guidelines if I am feeling unwell, have traveled, or if I have had contact with a person with COVID-19.
  • I/We pledge to call the Clinic or my own medical provider for guidance if I exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • I/We pledge to modify my actions and encourage others to do the same as guidelines and recommendations adjust over time.
  • I/We pledge to be positive, kind, and show respect for our community.
Abiding by this pledge is one of the easiest ways to support and show affection for Boca Grande.

AUGUST 8, 2020 - FROM THE BOCA GRANDE HEALTH CLINIC

What to do if you have tested + for COVID 19 or have symptoms of COVID 19 or have been exposed to someone that tested + for COVID 19 or someone that has symptoms of COVID 19.

This is a summary taken directly from the CDC guidelines and organized for ease of understanding. The BGHC is available for you if you have further questions or are need of care. Please do not hesitate to contact us. (941)964-2276. We hope you stay healthy and safe and thank you for helping our community to do the same.

1. Call 911 or have someone call 911 for you if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, confusion or blue lips or fingertips.

2. STAY HOME and Isolate/Quarantine (basically the same thing, just a different name depending on if you are sick or you are exposed).
Isolate if you are + or have symptoms of COVID 19.
Quarantine if you have been exposed to someone who is + or has symptoms of COVID 19. These both mean:

Stay in your own room and away from others in your home.
Use your own bathroom if possible.
Wear a mask if you are in a common space in your home.
Avoid sharing dishes, towels and bedding with others.
Leave your home only for medical care. (Not for a haircut, not to get groceries, not to go to the post office; get someone else to help you with those things).

Note: If you are sick, your household should quarantine, as they have been exposed.

3. Notify your healthcare provider. If you do not have a health care provider, the BGHC is available for video visits for both established and new patients at this time. Please call (941)964-2276 for guidance with appointments and questions about testing locations.

4. Notify any close contacts you may have had starting 2 DAYS PRIOR to the day that you developed symptoms. If you tested + but don’t have any symptoms, notify close contacts starting 2 DAYS PRIOR to the + test. These close contacts should then quarantine.
A close contact is defined as anyone you were with that was within 6 feet of you for 15 minutes or more.

5. Monitor your symptoms and record your temperature TWICE a day. Check in with your healthcare provider every 2-3 days to give an update.
Symptoms may include: fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, muscle aches and pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion and loss of taste or smell. We are learning more about symptoms every day and there may be more so keep an eye out for anything that seems new or unusual to you.

If at anytime you develop chest pain, shortness of breath, confusion or blue lips or fingertips, call 911 or have someone call for you.

6. Rest and stay hydrated.

7. Cover your mouth and nose if you are in any common areas of your home, if you are in a room with anyone else or if you leave your home to receive medical care.

8. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol base.

9. Clean common surfaces with a disinfectant that is FDA approved to kill coronavirus. See the list here:

EPA list of disinfectants to use against covid-19

When can I end my isolation/quarantine?

1. If you tested + for COVID 19 or had symptoms of COVID 19, you may end your isolation when:
You have not had a fever for 3 days without the use of fever reducing medications like Tylenol or ibuprofen.
AND
Whatever symptoms you had are improved
AND
It has been at least 10 days since you developed symptoms or at least 10 days since you tested + if you did not ever develop symptoms.

2. If you were exposed to someone who tested + for COVID 19 or someone with symptoms of COVID 19, you may end your quarantine when:
14 days have passed since your last contact with the person, as long as you did not develop symptoms or test + yourself.

“I’ve tested positive for COVID 19, my family member/co- worker/employee/patron/friend has tested positive for COVID 19, now what?”

This is a question that we are hearing more and more often at the BGHC as COVID case numbers continue to dramatically increase in Florida. Below is a summary of the CDC guidelines for dealing with an exposure and reminders on how to best prevent one.

Anyone testing positive for COVID 19 is contagious from 2 DAYS PRIOR TO DEVELOPMENT OF SYMPTOMS through the course of their illness.
Anyone exposed to someone testing positive for COVID 19 at any point during this entire time is advised to quarantine for 14 days from their last exposure to the positive individual, as long as they do not develop symptoms themselves.

For example:
A co-worker works 7/6, 7/7 and 7/8. On 7/8, she gets ill at work with a fever and headache and goes home. She stays home and is able to get tested on 7/10 and on 7/11 she is told that her test is + for COVID 19 and notifies her employer.
She started to be contagious on 7/6 and anyone with contact with her from 7/6-7/8 at her workplace should quarantine for 14 days from their last exposure to the +case.
If I worked with her on 7/6 and 7/8, my quarantine ends 7/8 + 14 days
 7/22.
If you only worked with her on 7/6, your quarantine ends 7/6 + 14 days
 7/20.
 



Boca Beacon - June 5, 2020 Edition

BY MARCY SHORTUSE

Governor announces ‘Phase 2’ of plan to be implemented

Governor Ron DeSantis announced today that Phase 2 of the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” plan would begin to be implemented today, Friday, June 5. DeSantis said this means that all bars in all but three Florida counties – Dade, Broward and Palm Beach – could re-open with certain stipulations, which include operating at half capacity inside and full capacity outside. Patrons will be allowed to receive service only if seated, and bar-top seating may commence with social distancing.

 People who travel to Florida will still be required to self-isolate if they are coming from a COVID-19 “hot spot,” with the exception of those traveling for work or students traveling for academic reasons, or for sports or school activities.

Movie theaters, concert venues, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys and arcades may also operate at 50 percent capacity, with social distancing regulations. Personal service establishments such as tattoo or body-piercing parlors and acupuncture, tanning and massage businesses may operate with appropriate safety precautions.

DeSantis asked everyone to continue to follow appropriate social distancing and safety measures, and said that senior citizens and those with underlying medical conditions should take measures to limit their risk of exposure to the virus. People should not gather in groups of 50 or more.

DeSantis also extended a temporary ban on evictions and foreclosures that was set to expire last Tuesday. The governor signed an executive order on Monday extending the mortgage foreclosure and eviction relief for residents, which will now run through July 1. With the pandemic-induced closures of businesses causing mass unemployment in the state, many have been unable to pay large bills such as rents and mortgages. Clerks of courts in each county had allegedly stopped processing eviction filings at the governor’s order, but some did not. This might leave many Florida residents homeless after the July 1 deadline for relief has come and gone.

 

 


Boca Beacon - May 8, 2020 Edition

BY MARCY SHORTUSE

COVID-19 antibody testing set up by Boca Grande Health Clinic through Quest Diagnostics

The Boca Grande Health Clinic is pleased to announce a COVID-19 antibody test offered through Quest Diagnostics. The test is performed by blood draw. It is an ELISA test (an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, also called ELISA or EIA, is a test that detects and measures antibodies in your blood) for SARS-CoV2 IgG, the memory antibody for the virus that causes COVID-19. The test was developed by Abbott Laboratories.

This test gives positive or negative results of the presence of IgG (memory) antibodies in the blood. A positive result suggests possible previous exposure, possible currently resolving or possible previous infection with the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness. Of note, having these memory antibodies is not known to provide immunity to future infections of COVID 19 at this time. 

The test results will be helpful to define the extent of any COVID-19 infections in our community which will help to guide recommendations regarding ongoing precautions for prevention of COVID-19.

Per Quest requirements to have the laboratory test drawn, you must not be currently ill and be asymptomatic from any recent illness for at least 10 days. At the time of the test you will be required to have your temperature taken and wear face covering. Helpful information on patient testing may be found at Patient information Abbott SARS CoV2 IgG test.

This service is covered by Medicare and most insurances. An initial telehealth visit with one of the Clinic physicians will be scheduled to go through screening questions regarding the specifics of any recent illness, travel history, medical history, etc. The limitations of the test results will be discussed with you and if you wish to have the test drawn, a laboratory appointment will be scheduled for you either at the Clinic or at Quest Diagnostics. Once the results are available, a second telehealth visit will be scheduled with one of the Clinic physicians to review and discuss your test results, answer any questions you may have and provide further any recommendations. 

Potential risks associated with the test include the normal potential discomfort that can occur while having blood taken, and possible incorrect test results.

If you have a positive test result, it is likely that you have or previously had COVID-19, and that you have developed an antibody response to the virus. Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine how best to care for you based on the test results along with other factors of your medical history, including any previous symptoms, possible exposure to COVID-19 and the location of places you have recently traveled.

There is also the chance that this test can give a positive result that is wrong (a false positive result).

A negative test result means that the antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 were not found in your sample. However, it is possible for this test to give a negative result that is incorrect (false negative) in some people with COVID-19 infection. A negative result may occur if you are tested early in your illness and your body hasn’t had time to produce antibodies to infection.

If this is the case, your healthcare provider will consider the test result together with all other aspects of your medical history (such as symptoms, possible exposures, and geographical location of places you have recently traveled) in deciding how to care for you.

It is important that you work with your healthcare provider to help you understand the next steps you should take.

This test is not yet approved or cleared by the United States FDA. When there are no FDA-approved or cleared tests available, and other criteria are met, FDA can make tests available under an emergency access mechanism called an Emergency Use Authorization. The EUA for this test is supported by the Secretary of Health and Human Service’s declaration that circumstances exist to justify the emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for the detection and/or diagnosis of the virus that causes COVID-19.

This EUA will remain in effect (meaning this test can be used) for the duration of the COVID-19 declaration justifying emergency of IVDs, unless it is terminated or revoked by FDA (after which the test may no longer be used).

If you are interested in having testing performed, contact the Clinic at their designated COVID-19 testing line, 964-0490, or email info@bghc.org. Include your contact information in the email.

 The Clinic will continue to monitor this fast evolving pandemic and will keep you informed with the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state recommendations and updates. Helpful links are listed on their website at bghc.org.

 


Boca Beacon - May 1, 2020 Edition

‘Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step’ plan phase one to be implemented May 4

 BY MARCY SHORTUSE

 

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Wednesday afternoon, April 29, that Florida would take “small, deliberate and methodical steps towards a more hopeful future” by declaring a “Safe, Smart and Step-by-Step” program, set to begin on Monday, May 4. Excluded from the program at this time are Dade, Palm Beach and Broward Counties.

We are now entering phase one of the plan. The major changes that will take place include the ability for restaurants to offer outdoor seating with six-foot distancing and indoor seating at 25 percent capacity, and all retail stores having the ability to operate at 25 percent indoor capacity. 

“If your business is open, it may remain open and should continue appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures,” DeSantis said. “Also, any activity or work that has been available under the previous order remains available. Businesses should adopt appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures.”Elective surgeries can resume as well. Medical services, including elective procedures, surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental offices, orthodontic offices, endodontic offices and other health care practitioners offices may fully re-open.

Lee County beaches were opened to the public earlier this week, including the ability to bring beach chairs and coolers. However, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection will announce a phased-in re-opening of state parks.Schools will continue with distance learning, and visits to senior living facilities are still prohibited. Bars, gyms and personal services such as hair salons are still closed, and the ban on short-term rentals is still in effect.

DeSantis said Florida residents are still supposed to limit interaction outside of their homes, and to wear a mask in situations outside the home where face-to-face contact is required. The elderly and those with underlying medical conditions – including chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, cancer, renal failure and liver disease should continue to stay at home and away from people who they don’t come in contact with every day.

In other words, all social distancing measures, including those on the water if you are in a boat, still apply. DeSantis said that everyone should continue to avoid gathering in groups more than 10 as well.

Airport screening and isolation measures will continue as well. People are discouraged from traveling to places with a significant presence of COVID-19 cases, and non-essential travel is discouraged overall. People who must travel to and from places with a heavy presence of COVID cases should still quarantine themselves for two weeks. This includes people who take cruises. People who come to Florida are still required to quarantine.

Violation of this order is a misdemeanor and is punishable by imprisonment up to 60 days and a fine up to $500. The order is to be enforced by local and state law enforcement.

The original “Safer at Home” order, scheduled to expire on May 1, was extended by DeSantis to include days preceding May 4. It will expire at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, May 4.

Part of phase one, DeSantis said, is a plan that includes expanded testing beyond what has already been done. He said he recognizes there are many underserved communities in the state that will benefit not only from more drive-through testing facilities, but walk-up facilities as well.

“We want to be able to spot trends in the smaller, more isolated communities,” he said.

New drive-through testing sites in our area will be at the Sarasota/Manatee county line, and another at the Lee/Collier county line.

More laboratories to process test results will also be part of phase one. DeSantis said they will have the capacity to do 3,500 tests a week, and at some sites they will be able to get an answer within an hour. He specifically mentioned an RV testing laboratory that they currently utilize.

“We’re not only bringing the swabs, we’re bringing the lab,” he said. “We hope to be able to do that by the beginning of next week.”

DeSantis said contact tracing continues to be a vital part of keeping Floridians healthy, and that the method will be implemented even more in days to come. What this means is that if a person is found to be positive for the virus, healthcare workers will find other people who have come in close contact with the patient and test them as well.

The governor said he hopes that future phases in Florida’s “Safe, Smart Step-by-Step” plan will be implemented in weeks, not months. 

“When we proceed with our next step, the determination will be data driven and focus on facts,” he said. “If we see more cases where people are going into the hospital and it looks like a surge that our hospitals can’t handle, we have to take that into account. If we don’t see a flood of people coming into the hospital, that means we can progress.”

DeSantis warned that as more tests are given in the coming weeks, people should expect they could see a sharp increase in the numbers of positive cases.

“When you do that many more tests in a day, what will happen is, you will find people who are asymptomatic and positive, so you may see the total number of cases go up. Remember, we are trying to build a foundation for the state of Florida’s future. Right now fear is our enemy. We are a resourceful people with a can-do spirit ... we need to focus on facts, not fear.”

 


Boca Beacon - May 1, 2020 Edition

A message from the Clinic:

Putting the pieces together 

BY TOM ERVIN, MD

My family enjoys puzzles; hard puzzles. The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has given a new meaning to the term “jigsaw.” 

Two to three months ago, all of us were faced with a puzzle. COVID-19 was all around us, but what was it?  Pieces of all shapes and sizes were being exposed. But was there a pattern? What colors were alike? How many pieces were there and how do they fit together? Were all the pieces present? Where to start?

When faced with a challenge or a new phenomenon such as COVID-19, we naturally try to understand it in terms we are already familiar with. COVID-19 is horrible. We react by associating it with sudden catastrophes such as war, plague, or some form of celestial disaster. That form of quick thinking may give us some relief. We think we are getting a grip on what we are experiencing.  

But are we?

Considering COVID-19 more slowly (thank you Pat Wallace and Daniel Kahneman), we should ask what else should we piece together to understand and assimilate what we are feeling and experiencing. Is there more to the story?  There usually is. 

Viruses have produced human illness for centuries. These bundles of DNA, or in this case, RNA, have also provided new genetic information which has contributed to our evolution as a species. Like genetic information in the human cell, virus RNA can mutate with its evolution. This virus has mutated in a way which has acquired a mechanism by which it can enter and proliferate within the human cell. COVID-19 is a Coronavirus (there are many) which can enter the human cell via a cell receptor particularly expressed on lung cells and vascular cells. This package of RNA, protein, and lipid membrane can then replicate causing disease. 

Our reaction to the virus’ presence results in lung damage, vascular damage and activation of abnormal coagulation. The virus is then shed into organ secretions allowing for human to human transmission. This process is not different from influenza or rhinovirus but the disease response may be more severe. Normally other Coronaviruses cause mild respiratory or intestinal illness. The exact reason for COVID-19’s pathogenesis is still an unidentified piece of the puzzle. 

As we speak, more pieces of the puzzle are being identified. Transmission pathways are now documented and can be placed together. Prevention actions via barriers, 70 percent alcohol cleanses or vigorous handwashing are being linked together with effect. Social distancing has allowed for the outline of the puzzle to be viewed. We all know that the puzzle will be easier to solve when the edges are complete. Clues as to the reasons for the tissue damage are allowing physicians to find new therapeutic strategies to help the ill. Those pieces of the puzzle that look the same will become distinct. 

This week, a new piece of the puzzle has been identified. Antibody tests, known as serologic tests, have been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA. One such test will soon be offered by the BGHC to interested patients and their contacts if appropriate.

Serologic tests can document the presence or absence of specific immune response to COVID 19. Alone, the test cannot be used to diagnose or exclude infection with COVID-19. A positive test is very specific for anti-COVID 19 antibody (specificity), but antibodies may not be identified in all patients infected (sensitivity). A positive result, the presence of anti-COVID-19 antibodies, suggests that the person may have been infected by COVID-19.  A positive result may mean that the person is immune to COVID-19 reinfection. However, we know neither how complete this immunity is, nor how long it may last. A positive result may identify those recovered persons who can donate convalescent plasma to those suffering from severe COVID-19 infection. Nationally, these questions will be answered. Understanding the immune response will help identify the scope of the disease and hasten its control.  This test will be helpful, but the exact place for this piece in the puzzle is not yet clear. 

We are dealing with another natural event. The suddenness and huge scale of COVID-19 makes solving the puzzle even more demanding for us all. Doing the right thing collectively and encouraging our medical and political leaders to do the same will help us buy time to put all the pieces together. COVID-19 is a medical challenge which will be controlled by understanding all of its parts. Vaccines and specific antiviral therapies are critical pieces to put in place. Until then we will all need to solve what we can and do what we can without the few pieces yet unidentified.

Cover up, stay apart, practice wellness and emotional calm when you can.     

Dr Thomas Ervin is a physician at the Boca Grande Health Clinic.


Boca Beacon - April 24, 2020 Edition

 

Boca Grande shows up on COVID-19 tracker

BY MARCY SHORTUSE

case, or cases, of COVID-19 have finally showed up on the radar of the Florida Department of Health this week, as they are reporting “five or less” cases in the Lee County portion of the island on their dashboard. The addition of island cases showed up on Tuesday’s update. 

In order to protect anonymity, the computer results will only show “0” cases, “<5,” “5-9”, etc. No exact numbers are used. That means the island has less than five cases tested and confirmed right now.In the Charlotte County portion of the island there are still no cases reported. 

Meanwhile, since this time last week the state has 5,492 new confirmed cases, and 292 more deaths. Our total as of Thursday morning was 28,832 cases and 960 deaths.

Charlotte County is reporting 161 confirmed cases and 12 deaths, with 29 patients who have been hospitalized.

Cases in the 33981 area code (South Gulf Cove and the area of Charlotte County west of the Myakka and up to Sarasota County) went from 5-9 up to 11; the majority of Rotonda/33947 is still listed at five to 9 cases; Englewood’s 34224 shows less than five; five to nine cases in the Charlotte County part of 34224/Englewood; less than five cases in the 34224 Charlotte County area that includes part of Rotonda, Englewood and Grove City; and no cases in the 33946 area that is Placida and Cape Haze.

On Tuesday, April 21 Charlotte County Commissioners announced they would be re-opening their beaches on Monday, April 27. They said that parking meters will be temporarily disabled, and no public restrooms will be open. 

They also announced that sports fields and dog parks would open on Friday, April 24. No team sports or leagues are allowed to play, though.

Lee County beaches are still closed at this time. While some Lee County Parks & Recreation trails and amenities reopened Wednesday, April 22, none so far, though, are on the island. Most Lee County facilities remain closed, including most parks, ballfields, playgrounds, pavilions, recreation centers, beaches and restrooms.

For a list, visit leegov.com/covid-19. 

Lee County Library System services’ exterior book returns reopened beginning Wednesday at all branches for patrons to drop off checked-out materials. No fines will be assessed for items overdue because of library closures. 

On Saturday, April 18, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran recommended that all Florida public and private K-12 schools continue distance learning and keep campuses closed through June 3. Island School Head-of-School Jean Thompson said she was told that the school calendar would not change in that regard.

On Monday, April 20, local television news stations showed video of the previous weekend’s boating activity, which included at least 100 boats clustered together on the sand bar, and at Stump Pass State Park. Charlotte County Sheriff’s deputies did what they could to quell the crowd, and to move people along who were anchored on the beach at Stump Pass (all state parks along the shore are closed right now).

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife, you could be issued a fine of up to $500 or serve up to 60-days in jail for social distancing violations on the water.In a poll the Boca Beacon conducted online which asked, “Do you think the state’s non-essential businesses and schools should open on May 1, 85 said we should open back up, while 131 people said it is too early.