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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.

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 Coming Soon

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.

Is COVID, a cold or the flu? Expanded testing will help you sort out your symptoms

Coughs, sniffles and sneezing are commonplace this time of year, yet these symptoms now put people on alert due to the COVID pandemic. If you are sick and symptomatic, come see us. 

We have expanded the testing available at our COVID clinics so you can get to the bottom of what’s making you feel crummy. Our team will test for flu and COVID in one simple swab, and can even test for strep throat or mononucleosis (aka “mono”) if appropriate. 

Our COVID, cold and flu clinics are essentially a one-stop shop for cold and flu season. We will do more than just test, treat, and vaccinate you for COVID. We will find out if you have an ear infection, strep throat or another common illness, and then treat you for those, so you can get on the mend sooner. Ruling out flu, COVID and other illnesses in one visit will also save you time. 

Patients who are symptomatic will now benefit from having their ears, nose, throat and lungs checked during their visit. The evaluation will allow providers to determine what testing, in addition to a COVID swab, is necessary. Well patients who simply need a COVID test for work or travel can expect the same speedy testing services they’ve come to expect from Innovative Care over the past 20 months. 

Innovative Care has two dedicated COVID, cold and flu clinics. The Lincoln Park clinic is located at 1111 W. Diversey Parkway and includes a convenient testing drive-thru. The Downers Grove clinic is located at 136 Ogden Avenue near Trader Joe’s. 

Innovative Express Care, the medical group’s urgent care, is also open seven days a week for illnesses, injuries and testing. All locations accept walk-in appointments, or patients can schedule online in advance of their visit.  

 

Molnupiravir: Antiviral Expected to be the Next Tool to Curb COVID Pandemic

Molnupiravir

Curbing the COVID pandemic requires more than just lowering virus transmission. We also need tools to address virus symptoms and lower the rate of hospitalization due to COVID.  Monoclonal antibodies are currently the only FDA EUA authorized treatment for COVID-19, but soon there may be another tool in our arsenal, an oral antiviral medication called Molnupiravir. This medication, which was originally developed as a potential treatment for the flu, would be the first pill to treat COVID-19. 

When will Molnupiravir be available? 

Molnupiravir may be available to newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients who are at high risk for serious illness by the end of the year. The oral medication will be taken twice a day for five days following COVID diagnosis. Merck is pursuing emergency use authorization for the drug following successful clinical trials, which reported that Molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 50 percent. 

What does this mean for patients? 

Having another tool to reduce hospitalization from COVID-19 will help our healthcare system bounce back from the pandemic. Another treatment to prevent serious illness will also reduce the number of COVID deaths, and the fact that it is in pill form makes it more convenient and accessible to patients than the intravenous options currently available. 

Will Innovative offer Molnupiravir? 

We are committed to serving our community until the COVID pandemic is under control. Innovative Care has been at the forefront of testing and treatment for COVID to date and we will continue to offer the latest treatment options, including Molnupiravir when it becomes available. 

Patients who are seeking treatment for COVID-19 currently can schedule a monoclonal antibody treatment online. We offer monoclonal antibodies five days a week between our Chicago and Downers Grove clinics. 

For more information about Innovative Care’s COVID testing and treatment options, visit or website.

Flu shots now available

Flu season is expected to begin in just a few short weeks. According to Dr. Khare, this year, it’s more important than ever to get your flu vaccine. Wondering why? Here are three solid reasons:

The flu vaccine offers your best defense against the flu. It’s that simple. Yes, we know you have a friend who swears that it makes him or her sick. This is false. The flu vaccine significantly lowers your chance of getting sidelined by the flu this season. It will also dramatically reduce your symptoms if you do in fact contract the flu.

COVID-19 is still active in the community. Flu symptoms can be similar to COVID-19 symptoms. If you catch the flu, it will not only sideline you physically, but it will also warrant that you get a COVID-19 test and keep you in quarantine while you wait for the results. Getting a flu vaccine is simple, affordable and will help you stay healthy so you can resume your normal activities. 

Staying well will reduce your COVID-19 risk. The best way to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 is to wear a mask in public, get the flu vaccine and continue to social distance.

Flu Vaccines available at Innovative Express Care 

Flu vaccines are available by appointment at our urgent care clinic located at 2400 N. Ashland Avenue (corner of Ashland and Fullerton). You must be well, with no symptoms of illness, to get the vaccine. Schedule your flu shot here. 

Patients who have an appointment for COVID-19 testing may request a flu shot during their visit to 1111 W. Diversey Parkway. The flu shot is only offered as an add-on to your COVID-19 swab. If you only need a flu vaccine, visit our urgent care. Patients must be well, with no signs of illness or fever to get their flu shot. 

When should I get my flu vaccine? 

Flu activity generally begins in October and runs into the spring months. The earlier you get vaccinated the better because it takes two weeks to build up your immunity. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six-months of age and older, unless you are allergic. It is especially important for high-risk individuals, which include infants, children, pregnant women and the elderly, as well as those with underlying health conditions. 

For more information about this year’s flu season, or the vaccine, visit us online.

Pfizer Vaccine Boosters Approved for Additional High-Risk Individuals

Pfizer Vaccine BoostersThere has been a lot of debate about COVID-19 booster vaccines, including whether they are necessary, at what point in time, and for whom they are most appropriate. On Friday, the FDA Advisory Committee voted on the use of Pfizer vaccine boosters. Since there is a lot of misinformation out there, I will summarize their decision for you here. 

Pfizer Booster Vaccine Decision

The committee reviewed extensive data, including the current situation in the United States (COVID cases, hospitalization, vaccinations and vaccine effectiveness), and scientific studies before voting. There was a lot of discussion and debate. Two votes were held to decide who should receive a Pfizer booster vaccine. The first vote was to determine if boosters should be given to all individuals. This did not pass and was voted down.  The second vote was to determine who specifically should receive a Pfizer booster vaccine. The criteria that passed the vote (unanimously) was to give a Pfizer booster vaccine to the following individuals:

People who previously received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with their second dose being at least 6 months ago, AND who…

  • Are age 65+
  • Are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 (clarification yet to come on who this may include)
  • Are at high risk for occupational exposure to COVID-19 (this includes healthcare workers and others to be determined)
Can I Go Get My Booster Vaccine? 

Even if you qualify for a booster vaccine based on the criteria passed during the vote, this does not mean that you can or should go out and get a booster immediately. There are still regulatory steps that must take place, including an official authorization being made (FDA EUA authorization). The CDC advisory committee must also meet to discuss the guidance and make their own recommendations on the matter. This is where we may see additional fine-tuning, such as what is considered to put someone at risk for severe COVID-19, and what occupations beyond healthcare workers should be included. If you are interested in really digging into this topic, you can find the presentation materials here

Vaccinations Available in Downers Grove

Innovative Care is currently offering vaccine doses 1 and 2 of both the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines at our Downers Grove clinic. We are also offering booster vaccines for certain immunocompromised individuals per the August FDA EUA Authorization. We are not yet offering Pfizer boosters to the extended population (voted on September 18, 2021 for over age 65, healthcare workers), but we will expand our criteria to see those patients as soon as the respective FDA Emergency Use Authorization is in place. Vaccine appointments can be made online

Telemedicine is Here to Stay at Innovative Care

Telemedicine Covered by Insurance?

Consumers have come to enjoy conveniences that started during the COVID pandemic. With curbside retail pick-ups, grocery delivery and virtual appointments with your doctor, you hardly have to leave home anymore! The COVID pandemic forced many businesses into a consumer-centric mindset designed to make convenience (and the ability to stay home) king. In healthcare, this was rare pre-pandemic. But not at Innovative Care! We have offered telemedicine since we opened our doors in 2015, as it is part of our promise to make quality care more convenient. When the pandemic hit, we simply utilized the system we already had in place to see even more patients virtually. 

Is telemedicine here to stay?

It is at Innovative Care! In fact, we are continuing to ramp up our telemedicine services. We offer virtual visits as well as in-person visits at our urgent care, primary care and behavioral health practices. We also utilize virtual visits in other programs, such as our ADHD management and Innovative Weight Management programs. Patients want convenience, and with the technology readily available to us, there is no reason not to offer it. 

The question remains as to whether or not other clinics will do the same. This recent article in the Washington Post suggests that while patients want telemedicine to continue, many clinics will reduce or eliminate virtual appointments in the coming months due to insurer policies. 

Does insurance cover telemedicine at Innovative?

Yes! Insurance may be used for visits with our urgent care and primary care teams, as well as for ADHD evaluations, and visits that are part of our weight management program

Committed to Convenient Care

Innovative Care was founded with the promise to provide quality care that is also convenient and efficient. We understand that our patients are busy. They do not have time for unnecessary visits, or long hold times trying to make an appointment. We utilize technology to offer virtual appointments and easy, online scheduling.

Five Ways to Help Your Community Through COVID

Prevent serious illness if you do get COVID

Being vaccinated does not mean you are bulletproof to COVID. It does however significantly lower your risk of serious illness and complications from the virus. This means you are unlikely to require hospitalization for your symptoms. 

If you do get sick, getting a monoclonal antibody infusion is an additional step you can take to ensure you do not become seriously ill. This FDA EUA approved treatment is the only known treatment for COVID. It works by infusing antibodies into your body to fight the virus. Monoclonal antibodies are administered via an IV during a short infusion performed at our clinic (about 20-30 minutes). You’ll then be monitored for an hour before heading home to recover and rest. Innovative Care began offering monoclonal antibody treatment this week. Insurance covers the cost. Uninsured patients will be covered by the CARES Act. There is no cost to patients. 

It is critical that we prevent hospitalizations from COVID so our hospital system is not overburdened and unable to care for all patients. Treating COVID symptoms with monoclonal antibodies within the first 10 days may help. 

Continue to be COVID cautious

Indoor mask mandates are back in Illinois as of 8/26/2021 when the Governor announced further mitigation strategies. Please take this seriously. Healthcare workers have been wearing masks for decades. This is not a new strategy to prevent illness. Do your part, distance, wear masks and don’t give up. 

Get vaccinated

The number one way you can help your community is by getting vaccinated. Per the Governor’s press conference today, 96 percent of hospitalizations due to COVID are in unvaccinated individuals.Our Downers Grove clinic offers COVID vaccines seven days a week. Appointments can easily be scheduled online

Thank a healthcare worker

It’s been 18 months since this pandemic started. Healthcare workers who were hopeful in the spring as virus spread and hospitalizations decreased, are once again exhausted and fatigued. Take a moment to recognize someone you know on the front lines. A simple thank you can go a long way as they continue their mission to beat COVID. 

Support local businesses

Every time virus activity spikes, local businesses lose customers. Whether it be from capacity restrictions, people staying home, or staff illness, it has a huge impact on their ability to succeed. Continue to shop local whenever possible and treat yourself to a carryout meal from your favorite neighborhood spot to help them continue to thrive during this unprecedented time. 

We can do this together. Stay well, Chicago.

Innovative Care to Offer Monoclonal Antibody Treatment to COVID Positive Patients

Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

Regen-COV infusion may lessen severity of virus and reduce the risk of complications for high-risk patients

COVID-19 can be serious, even life-threatening. If you test positive for COVID-19, and have symptoms, seeking monoclonal antibody treatment within the first 10 days may help you fight the virus and avoid serious complications and even death. Monoclonal antibody treatment is intended for people who are at a high risk of serious illness. Innovative Care will begin offering monoclonal antibody treatment to patients. 

Monoclonal antibodies are produced in a laboratory. They serve as substitute antibodies that help our immune systems mimic the defense of natural COVID-19 antibodies. Innovative Care uses the monoclonal antibody Regen-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab, administered together, made by Regeneron) to treat COVID positive patients. This treatment received FDA EUA approval in November, yet it is not widely available. Innovative Care is committed to fighting COVID and proud to offer a treatment for those who are fighting the virus. More information on Regen-COV can be found here. Insurance is accepted for this treatment. 

“We have been here to test and treat patients since the start of the pandemic. This is a natural progression for us to continue serving our community with COVID testing and care,” said Rahul Khare, MD, CEO and founder of Innovative Care. “Monoclonal antibodies attach to the spike protein and may aid your immune system as it works to fight the virus.”

Innovative Care will treat patients who qualify at their dedicated COVID clinic. Each visit begins with a provider consultation. If the patient opts to receive treatment, Regen-COV will be administered during the same appointment. The total infusion time is 20 minutes. Patients may also choose to forgo treatment. More information about what to expect can be found online here.  

Insurance Accepted

Innovative COVID accepts most major insurance plans, and 99 percent of people who get this treatment will not get a bill or pay for monoclonal antibody treatment. If the bill is not covered by insurance, there are funds to get this covered. By this mechanism, patients will not pay anything out of pocket for this treatment. If you do not have any medical insurance, your treatment will be covered under the federal CARES Act. 

More Information

Innovative Care has operated a COVID testing site for nearly 18 months. They are a leader in COVID testing and were among the first in Chicago to offer COVID antibody testing. Innovative Care also offers COVID vaccines at their Downers Grove clinic. For more information, visit Innovative Care online