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Monkeypox in Chicago – Innovative Care Now Offering Evaluation and Testing

Monkeypox is spreading in Chicago. Will it be the next widespread pandemic? No, we certainly hope not, but you should be aware of the virus as illness continues to spread. Dr. Khare, founder and CEO of Innovative Care, summarizes what we know about monkeypox currently, and how we are handling monkeypox evaluation and testing

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare, but potentially serious illness that typically begins with flu-like symptoms and progresses to a rash. The monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. This family of viruses also includes smallpox. The first known human case of monkeypox was in 1970. 

How is monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox can spread when someone comes in contact with an infected animal, person or material. The virus can also cross the placenta from a mother to a fetus. The most common transmission is through direct contact with body fluids or sores on an infected person. Intimate contact such as during sex, kissing, cuddling, or touching parts of the body with monkeypox sores may also spread the virus. 

Is there a treatment for Monkeypox?

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox at this time. Scientists are exploring whether the use of smallpox antivirals may be beneficial to individuals who contract monkeypox. Many individuals with monkeypox have mild disease, during which they are advised to avoid direct contact with others. 

What should I do if I have been exposed to monkeypox?

Monkeypox cases are climbing in Chicago. If you have a known exposure to monkeypox, you should monitor for monkeypox symptoms for a period of 21 days. Symptoms to watch for include: 

  • Fever greater than 100.4F. The CDC recommends taking your temperature twice daily during the 21 day period. 
  • Chills
  • New skin rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes
What if I develop monkeypox symptoms? 

If you develop symptoms, you should self-isolate and contact a health professional for further guidance. Innovative Care is seeing monkeypox patients at our Chicago urgent care location at 2400 N. Ashland Avenue in Lincoln park. Telemedicine consults are available daily and are recommended for the first evaluationAppointments can be made online

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Per the CDC, monkeypox illness begins with the following: 

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

Approximately 1 to 3 days after the onset of fever, the patient develops a rash. This rash commonly begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. Lesions then progress through various stages before they fall off. Monkeypox illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks. 

Will Innovative Care see patients with monkeypox?

Yes. Innovative Care is seeing patients for monkeypox evaluation and testing at our urgent care located at 2400 N. Ashland Avenue in Lincoln Park. We are working with the Chicago Health Department to send samples for testing if needed. We will have our own testing soon, but at this time, the only testing available is at the state level and then another round of testing at the CDC

Patients who wish to have a monkeypox evaluation can schedule an appointment online.

Innovative Care Brings Convenience and Quality to ADHD Treatment

ADHD treatment at Innovative Care is easy, convenient and time-saving. We simplify ADHD management to create a better patient experience. If you are still trekking to the doctor monthly for visits, it’s time to shop around. Read onto learn how we do things differently, and what to look for (and look out for) in an ADHD provider.

Convenience is Key, but Beware of Online Only Operations

Virtual appointments are key in providing exceptional ADHD patient care. Telemedicine allows check-ins to be done from almost anywhere when it’s time for a prescription refill. But it’s also equally important that you work with a medical provider you can trust. A provider that is advocating for your whole health, and one who can adequately address issues as they arise. Patients with ADHD should select a medical provider who offers the convenience of online appointments, with the security of providers at a brick and mortar medical clinic that can address their needs. Technology giants are popping up in the ADHD treatment space that operate 100 percent virtually. While that may be convenient, many people worry that patient safety is at risk. Check out this recent article on Cerebral. Cerebral competitor Done has had their share of critics as well. 

Relationship Building

Building a relationship with your medical provider is important. It’s also important that your provider be looking out for your overall health, not just one aspect of your health. For this reason, Innovative Care requires that ADHD patients see their provider in-person every 6 months (twice a year, one of which can be your annual physical). These more thorough check-ups allow us to make sure you are doing well on the medication that has been prescribed to you and discuss your other healthcare needs. During in-person visits, we will check your vitals, do blood work if needed, and talk with you about how things are going. 

Collaborative Care

Innovative Care offers primary care, urgent care and therapy services. Unlike online only companies, we do far more than ADHD treatment. Our providers are experienced and able to take care of virtually all of your outpatient ongoing healthcare needs. If your primary care provider is unavailable, our urgent care team can step in. Patients who believe they have ADHD, but are not yet diagnosed, can also seek an evaluation at Innovative Care.

Is COVID Going to Make a Comeback in Chicago?

COVID ComebackI hate to say this, but COVID is going to make a comeback in Chicago in the next few weeks. That’s the bad news. The good news is that we are more prepared than ever before. We have several viable treatment options and we are all experts on virus prevention and testing at this point. In addition, while the Omicron BA.2 variant is very contagious, up to 33% more contagious than the original BA.1 Omicron virus. 

Here’s are three things you need to know in order to prepare for the upcoming spike in activity:

There are several treatment options for COVID

We offer monoclonal antibodies and Paxlovid antiviral prescriptions at our clinic. When you arrive for your appointment, our medical provider will review your symptoms and the options for treatment with you. 

Sotrovimab & Bebtelovimab

Innovative Care has both Sotrovimab and Bebtelovimab monoclonal antibody treatments at our COVID clinic.Both should be initiated as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within seven days of symptom onset. Both are administered via an IV infusion and are effective against the Omicron strain and Omicron BA.2 variant. These lab-made antibodies serve as substitute antibodies that help our immune systems mimic the defense of natural COVID-19 antibodies, which have been determined to reduce serious infection and death. They are FDA EUA approved treatments for COVID-19. Review the FDA patient fact sheet for Sotrovimab and Bebtelovimab for more information. 

Currently, Innovative Care has decided to use Bebtelovimab, the newest monoclonal antibody that has been shown to reliably bind to the spike protein of the BA.2 variant.

Paxlovid

Paxlovid is an FDA EUA approved oral medication for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19. It is available by prescription only for patients age 12 and older. Paxlovid should be initiated as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of symptom onset. We have the Paxlovid medication stocked at our clinic, so you’ll take the medication home with you immediately (no trip to the pharmacy). There is no charge for this medication here at Innovative Care.

Don’t Dismiss Symptoms

Cold, flu and COVID symptoms can all be similar. If you become ill, find out what you are dealing with so you can take action. COVID treatment requires quick action, as you are unable to take antivirals once you are past five days of being symptomatic. Similarly, monoclonal antibodies must be administered within the first seven days of having symptoms. Your best bet is to get tested if you have symptoms. Early action can not only help you feel better soon, but also protect those around you. 

Vaccination Prevents Serious Illness

If you are due for a booster, or have yet to be vaccinated, now is a good time to make your appointment. Vaccination against COVID plays a critical role in keeping symptoms mild if you do contract the virus. Why take chances? Wouldn’t it be better to have a sniffle versus an entire host of serious symptoms? We offer vaccines daily at our Downers Grove clinic.

Evusheld & Paxlovid Available In-Clinic

COVID antibody and prophylactic prescriptions play an important role in curbing the ongoing pandemic, but they can also be hard to find. Not anymore. Paxlovid, an antiviral prescription medication, and Evusheld, a prophylactic medication for high risk individuals are now available at Innovative Care. If our medical provider recommends Paxlovid or Evusheld for your use, you will get your prescription AND the medication immediately on-site at our clinic. 

What is Paxlovid? 

Paxlovid is available by prescription only for patients age 12 and older. Paxlovid should be taken as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19, and within five days of symptom onset. Review the FDA patient fact sheet for more information about this FDA EUA approved oral medication for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19. 

What is Evusheld? 

Evusheld is an investigational medicine used for the most vulnerable patient populations to be used before COVID exposure. Evusheld is designed to prevent infection. It is not a treatment for COVID. Two categories of patients qualify for Evusheld:

  1. Those who have a moderately to severely compromised immune system due to a medical condition, or due to taking immunosuppressive medications or treatments, who therefore may not mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination. Qualifying medical conditions include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
    • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
    • Receipt of chimeric antigen receptor (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., ≥20 mg prednisone or equivalent per day when administered for ≥2 weeks), 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 (e.g., B-cell depleting agents)
  2. Those who have a history of severe adverse reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine and/or components of those vaccines, and are therefore not eligible (or advised against getting) for the COVID vaccine

Evusheld is not an alternative to vaccine for the average person. It is an additional tool in our arsenal to fight COVID that is designed for a specific patient population. More information can be found in this patient fact sheet. If you believe you qualify for Evusheld, schedule an appointment for a provider evaluation.

Sotrovimab Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

Innovative Care also offers Sotrovimab Monoclonal antibodies, which serve as substitute antibodies that help our immune systems mimic the defense of natural COVID-19 antibodies. Sotrovimab is FDA EUA approved for the treatment of COVID-19.  Review the FDA patient fact sheet for more information. 

Schedule an Appointment

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, schedule an appointment for COVID treatment online. 

If you have a moderately to severely compromised immune system and qualify for Evusheld, schedule an evaluation with one of our medical providers.

COVID Antiviral Pill Now Available by Prescription

We are committed to offering patients the latest COVID treatment options. Starting today, COVID antiviral prescription medication (Paxlovid) is available to COVID positive patients who qualify for treatment. We also offer Sotrovimab monoclonal antibodies. If you or a loved one test positive for COVID, and you are at risk of complications from the virus, schedule an evaluation with one of our providers. 

What is the antiviral pill?

Paxlovid is an FDA EUA approved oral medication for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19. It is available by prescription only for patients age 12 and older. Paxlovid should be initiated as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19, and it must be taken within five days of symptom onset. Review the FDA patient fact sheet for more information. 

What are monoclonal antibodies?

Innovative Care uses Sotrovimab Monoclonal antibodies, which is currently the only FDA approved monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19. These lab-made antibodies help our immune systems mimic the defense of natural COVID-19 antibodies, which have been determined to reduce serious infection and death. This is an FDA EUA approved treatment for COVID-19. Review the FDA patient fact sheet for more information. 

Do I Qualify?

You will be assessed to determine your risk of complications due to COVID-19, and categorized into one of four risk groups when you arrive for treatment. Treatment tiers have been identified by IDPH, based on the NIH guidelines, and can be found on our website. We are currently seeing patients in all tier groups, which means currently, you qualify if you are 65 or older, or those who are less than 65 who are/have one of the following: overweight, former smoker, high blood pressure, any history of heart disease or stroke, Hispanic or Black, not had your booster shot (often known as 3rd dose), asthma, kidney or liver disease, and many other conditions. 

Which medication will I get? 

Your provider will recommend a specific treatment based on your individual risk factors and evaluation. You may receive a prescription for Paxlovid, or you may be offered monoclonal antibodies (Sotrovimab) during your visit. You will be advised to follow self-care guidance at home if you do not qualify for treatment. 

Finding a pharmacy

Only select pharmacies in Illinois have antiviral medication to treat COVID-19. If your provider recommends this prescription, we will do our best to help you locate a pharmacy that carries Paxlovid. 

Schedule online

You may schedule a COVID evaluation online. For more information about Sotrovimab monoclonal antibodies or Paxlovid antiviral medication for COVID-19, visit our website

Innovative Care offers COVID testing and treatment at our Lincoln Park and Downers Grove clinics. We also offer COVID follow up care via telemedicine.

Do You Qualify for COVID Treatment? Sotrovimab May Reduce Symptom Severity

sotrovimabMonoclonal antibodies have been shown to prevent serious illness in patients who seek treatment within ten days of contracting the virus. Sotrovimab, an FDA EUA approved treatment, is available at Innovative Care and can be scheduled online

Who Qualifies for Monoclonal Antibodies?

Patients are categorized into one of four risk groups based on their risk of severe illness. Patients in tier 1 and tier 2 are prioritized, but individuals in tiers 3, and 4 will be treated if/when there is excess medication available. We are currently seeing patients in all tier groups. Treatment tiers as identified by IDPH, based on the NIH guidelines, can be found here.  

What to Expect During Treatment

Patients are evaluated by a medical provider to determine if they qualify and to assess their risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If treatment is recommended and agreed upon by both parties, the patient will receive treatment during their visit. 

Sotrovimab monoclonal antibodies are administered intravenously. The IV infusion takes 20 to 30 minutes, during which time a patient can relax in one of our recliner chairs. Patients are observed for one-hour following treatment. 

Do Monoclonal Antibodies Work? 

Sotrovimab is the only monoclonal antibody that has shown to be effective in treating the Omicron COVID-19 variant. This monoclonal antibody treatment is FDA EUA approved for use in patients who qualify. 

Schedule Online

Patients who test positive for COVID-19 can make an appointment to be evaluated for treatment online. Treatment must be administered within 10 days of your symptom onset or positive test. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit Innovative Care online.

Innovative Primary Care Now Open in Logan Square

I’m excited to announce that Innovative Primary Care has expanded to offer more appointment availability and a second location to serve our patients. Our new primary care office is located in Logan Square, at 2363 N. California Avenue. Margarita Ruiz, PA is currently accepting new patients at this location. We will continue to add new providers and more appointment availability as we get settled in this additional clinic space. 

About Margarita Ruiz, PA

Margarita has been serving patients in Logan Square for 10 years. She received her undergraduate education at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and her Physician Assistant education at Malcolm X College in Chicago. Margarita enjoys helping patients make healthy lifestyle choices and is available for annual physicals, adult and senior care, sick visits, medication management and more. Schedule an appointment with Margarita online

About Innovative Primary Care 

Innovative Primary Care offers appointments in-person at two office locations, and via telemedicine. We see patients six days a week and offer easy, online scheduling. Whether you need an annual physical, or assistance with a new health issue, we are here to help. Innovative Primary Care also offers a new weight management program focused on helping you achieve an optimal weight for your health. 

Stay tuned for more provider updates and news as we launch our new clinic in Logan Square.

New COVID Quarantine & Mask Guidelines

New isolation and mask guidelines have been issued by the CDC for individuals who are COVID-19 positive, or who have been exposed to the virus. The changes include a shorter quarantine period, and mask guidelines for everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated. Here’s what you need to know.

Why did the guidelines change? 

Omicron is spreading rapidly, putting hundreds of thousands people in isolation due to positive cases or exposure to the virus. This is putting a strain on our healthcare system, small businesses and our economy overall. Some businesses have been without enough people to work, forcing them to close for periods of time. 

In addition, omicron appears to be a much milder variant than previous COVID-19 variants such as delta. As such, most people will experience only minor symptoms, and some no symptoms at all. 

Why do we need to quarantine at all if omicron is so mild? 

While the omicron COVID-19 variant will only produce mild illness for most, it’s important to remember that there are a considerable number of people who remain at high risk for complications from the virus. We must continue to take precautions to protect the elderly, immunocompromised individuals, and people with health conditions that make them susceptible to severe illness. 

Is it risky to come off of quarantine so soon? 

Masks are key. If you are feve free and have only mild symptoms (or no symptoms) after five days, it’s relatively safe to come out of quarantine as long as you continue to take precautions such as masking, washing your hands regularly, etc. Individuals who have not completed a full 10 day quarantine for a positive case, or who have been exposed to COVID-19, should wear a mask (even if vaccinated).  

Visit the CDC for more information about the new COVID quarantine and mask protocols. 

 

COVID Antiviral Pill Receives FDA EUA Approval

Pfizer’s Paxlovid antiviral tablet for COVID received  an emergency use authorization (EUA)by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today. This medication is used to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients over the age of 12, if they meet the weight requirement, and who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms. Paxlovid will be available by prescription only. The medication should be initiated as soon as possible after a positive COVID test is obtained, within five days of symptom onset. 

This is the first treatment for COVID-19 in the form of a pill

This is the first antiviral treatment for COVID-19 in the form of a pill, and it’s a big deal. It has the potential to be a game-changer in our quest to fight COVID-19 successfully by reducing the amount of serious illness and hospitalizations resulting from COVID-19 infections. We are in the midst of a significant surge in infections, so an additional tool in our arsenal is important. 

Paxlovid is taken as three tablets taken orally together (two tablets of nirmatrelvir and one tablet of ritonavir), twice daily, for five days. In total, a patient takes 30 tablets. Nirmatrelvir works to inhibit a SARS-CoV-2 protein to stop the virus from replicating. Ritonavir slows down Nirmatrelvir’s breakdown to help it remain in the body for a longer period of time at higher concentrations. Used together, the medication is marketed as Paxlovid. To be eligible for Paxlovid, you must be age 12 or older, and at least 88 pounds. 

When will Paxlovid be available to patients? 

We will be able to prescribe Paxlovid once it is sent to pharmacies. We expect this to happen by mid-January, 2022. Additional information about Paxlovid can be found in the EUA approval and in the FAQs issued by the FDA. We will share updates about Paxlovid availability as we learn more. 

Additional COVID Treatment – Monoclonal Antibodies

Innovative Care has dedicated COVID clinics to offer testing, vaccines and treatment. We offer monoclonal antibody treatment to COVID positive patients who are within 10 days of symptom onset and who have risk factors that leave them vulnerable to complications from the virus. A complete list of qualifications for monoclonal antibody treatment can be found on our website. Monoclonal antibody treatment is available in Lincoln Park and Downers Grove. 

Omicron in Chicago

Nearly 75 percent of COVID cases in Chicago are due to the omicron variant. We know this variant is very contagious. In addition, there are a significant number of breakthrough cases. Please continue to exercise caution and be vigilant this holiday season so we can prevent further COVID spread. Clinics are full, hospitals are overtaxed and treatment is becoming difficult to find.

New COVID Antibody Drug Evusheld – Now Available

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a medication called Evusheld this week. The drug, made by AstraZeneca, has the potential to play an important role in preventing COVID-19 infection among a vulnerable population of people for whom the vaccine is either not recommended, or who take immunosuppressive medications and do not mount an adequate immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Since it can be hard to keep track of the latest COVID breakthroughs – both in treatment and prevention – here’s a breakdown of what you should know. 

New Antibody Drug for Most Vulnerable

Evusheld is to be used by a specific patient population before COVID exposure. It is a prophylactic medication designed to prevent infection. It is not a treatment for COVID. Two categories of patients qualify for Evusheld:

  1. Those who have a moderately to severely compromised immune system due to a medical condition, or due to taking immunosuppressive medications or treatments, who therefore may not mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination. Medical conditions that qualify include but are not limited to the following:
    • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
    • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
    • Receipt of chimeric antigen receptor (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., ≥20 mg prednisone or equivalent per day when administered for ≥2 weeks), 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 (e.g., B-cell depleting agents)
  2. Those who have a history of severe adverse reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine and/or components of those vaccines, and are therefore not eligible (or advised against getting) for the COVID vaccine

Evosheld is not an alternative to vaccine for the average person. It is an additional tool in our arsenal to fight COVID that is designed for a specific patient population. If you are not vaccinated, this is a medication that could save your life.

Antiviral Pills Coming Soon

Merck and Pfizer will soon debut new antiviral pills to target COVID infection. Here’s what we know so far…

Molnupiravir (Merck) has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by 30 percent if taken within five days of the onset of symptoms. 

The antiviral made by Pfizer may perform even better. An early analysis of the Pfizer pill suggests it may be up to 85 percent effective in reducing hospitalization and death if taken within the first five days of the start of symptoms. 

Things are rapidly changing on the COVID treatment front, but one thing is for sure. The more tools we have to limit infection and prevent serious illness, the better. The Omicron variant is now in Chicago and while it’s yet to be seen if it will cause serious illness, we do know that it is highly contagious and can fuel an increase in virus cases. 

Both antiviral pills may be authorized by year’s end and available in early 2022. Innovative Care will continue to watch this closely, and we will offer options to patients as soon as they become available. 

Monoclonal Antibody Treatment 

Monoclonal antibody treatment aims to prevent serious illness from COVID. Innovative Care offers monoclonal antibody treatment to COVID positive patients who are within 10 days of the symptom onset and who have risk factors that leave them vulnerable to complications from the virus. A complete list of qualifications for monoclonal antibody treatment can be found on our website. Monoclonal antibody treatment is available in Lincoln Park and Downers Grove. 

Innovative Care Testing & Treatment

Innovative Care has dedicated COVID clinics to offer testing, vaccines and treatment. We will continue to keep you apprised of the latest offerings as we continue to navigate through this ongoing pandemic.