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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.

Paxlovid Now Available at Innovative Express Care

COVID cases are once again on the rise, so it’s important to know that there is virus treatment readily available. You do not have to be immunocompromised to qualify, but you do have to act quickly once you become symptomatic in order to be eligible for treatment. Innovative Care has COVID treatment available daily at our COVID, Cold and Flu Clinics, and at our urgent care. Our providers will explain your options and recommend a treatment best suited to your needs. 

Paxlovid

Paxlovid is an antiviral pill that 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. 

Since time is of the essence, Innovative Care carries Paxlovid medication at our COVID, Cold and Flu clinics, as well as at our urgent care. This means that if you are diagnosed with COVID and qualify for Paxlovid, you can take the medication home with you immediately. There is no searching for a pharmacy that has it, and no extra stops on the way home. You can simply get your meds, get home and get well. Book online to schedule an appointment for an evaluation to determine if you qualify for Paxlovid.  

Additional COVID Treatment & Prevention Options

Monoclonal Antibodies

Innovative Care also offers Sotrovimab and Bebtelovimab 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. More information and the patient fact sheets can be found on our website. Schedule your appointment here.

Evusheld

Evusheld is not a COVID treatment, but rather a prophylactic medication that you take before COVID exposure. It can play an important role in illness prevention for people who are at high risk of complications from COVID. Sadly, it’s also often difficult to find. That’s why we also carry Evusheld on hand for patients who qualify. Schedule an appointment online, come in to speak with our provider and you’ll go home with Evusheld if you qualify. It’s that easy.

COVID Vaccines & Booster 

Innovative Care offers COVID vaccines daily at our Downers Grove clinic. Schedule online today, as being vaccinated (and if eligible, boosted) is your best defense against COVID. 

Living with COVID

We are likely to see virus activity continue to ebb and flow. In addition, the severity of illness will vary with each unique strain of COVID. Your best course of action is to focus on prevention (vaccines and masks when warranted). If you do get ill, get tested, seek treatment if you are positive for COVID, and stay home so you can prevent virus spread. We’ve come a long way in the last two years, but we all still have an important role to play as we learn to live with COVID. 

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.

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

COVID Cases Climbing at Innovative Care Testing Center

A sudden spike in COVID-19 test positivity rates suggests the virus is making its way back into our community. Innovative COVID, our testing site located at 1111 W. Diversey Parkway, is seeing an average positivity rate of around 5% this week to date. Just two weeks ago, the positivity rate at our clinic was holding steady at around 0.5 to 1%. 

This is a dramatic increase in positivity rate. Right on the heels of Lollapalooza and the city opening up. If you haven’t already, you’re going to be hearing about someone you know getting COVID even after getting the vaccine. Let’s figure out what this means.

Who is at Risk?

Unvaccinated individuals are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19, period. If you are eligible to get vaccinated, please do so. This is our best defense against COVID. Vaccinated individuals are not 100 percent protected from the virus, but they have a far lower risk of serious illness. Vaccination offers a significant level of protection to the individual. It also helps protect others around you. 

What is the Delta Variant? 

The CDC is watching new strains closely, as variants of the virus have the potential to spark new waves of illness. One variant in particular that is on the CDC watch list is the Delta strain (B.1.617.2). This mutation of COVID-19 was first detected in India in February 2021. This strain of COVID-19 is active in the United States and should be taken seriously. Early data has shown that if you have been vaccinated, the strain most likely will not affect you. Unvaccinated individuals are at the greatest risk. That said, breakthrough infections (COVID-19 in people who are vaccinated) do happen. The good news is this…if you’ve been vaccinated, you will have a lighter, more mild case of the virus. The flu vaccine works very much the same way. Getting the flu vaccine does not mean you can’t catch the flu. It does however mean that if you do catch it, your case will be more mild due to the fact that you have some level of protection. I strongly recommend that anyone who is eligible be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Who should be tested for COVID-19?
  • Anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should be tested, whether they are vaccinated or not
  • Unvaccinated individuals who have had a known exposure to the COVID-19 virus should be tested 5-7 days after that exposure, even if they do not have symptoms. 
If I’m vaccinated and get exposed, do I really need to get tested?

This is a tricky one. Here’s the issue, the Delta strain is extremely contagious. As we are seeing at Innovative Care, the vaccine does not fully protect you from getting COVID-19 again. You’ve probably seen news stories about this, but what the media does not mention enough is this: If you have received a vaccine, the risk of you being hospitalized due to COVID-19 illness is very low

Which means: vaccinated people can get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, however, their illness is extremely mild. But here’s the other tricky part, these people with mild symptoms who are positive for COVID-19 are still contagious. There are children and unvaccinated individuals who are still susceptible to getting very sick, or may even die, from a COVID-19 illness. This means that if you are exposed to COVID-19, and will be with people who are vulnerable (unvaccinated or have significant comorbidities), you should get tested.

Catching COVID-19 cases early allows us to isolate and stop the virus from spreading to others. Innovative Care offers COVID-19 testing seven days a week at our Diversey clinic. Appointments are recommended, but not required. Walk-ins are welcome. 

Will we see another shutdown?

While we certainly hope not, it is possible that we will see restrictions be put back in place. Numerous countries are struggling with a resurgence of COVID-19. Mask requirements, and if needed, restrictions play an important role in protecting those most vulnerable. Our priority remains to get as many people vaccinated as possible so we can continue to keep businesses open and events happening. 

Avoid COVID Fatigue

After 16 plus months of COVID-19 talk, it’s normal to be “over it” and want to move on. Let’s face it…everyone wishes this was all just a bad dream. Sadly, it’s not, and it will take effort from all of us to get rid of COVID-19 in our community. Our team has been here since day one, and we will continue to serve our community through virus testing and care. I ask that you do your part as well. Get vaccinated. Get tested if you are symptomatic and take isolation guidelines seriously if you are unvaccinated and exposed to the virus. If we all continue to do our part, we will continue to enjoy dinners out, baseball games, concerts and more. Hang in there, Chicago!

Flu shots now available

flu shot 2020

 

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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. 

  3. 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 now available at Innovative Express Care Urgent 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. 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. 

Book Your Flu Shot at 2400 N Ashland

Innovative Express Care Helps Chicago Businesses Get Back to Work

Occupational Health COVID-19

It’s official. Illinois has flattened the curve and we are heading into phase III. This is exciting news for the restaurants, retail stores and other businesses who have been sidelined due to the pandemic. How we take this next step is critical. Innovative Express Care can help. Our team offers cost-effective virus testing, antibody testing and counsel on best practices for businesses to help them ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers. We take your employee’s insurance and also treat uninsured and undocumented patients for free. We’ll even come to you!

Businesses must understand that operating in the COVID-19 environment requires preventive measures and careful planning. This virus isn’t going anywhere, so we need to establish firm protocols and make them commonplace to prevent future outbreaks. COVID-19 swab testing, for the active virus, before or on the first day back at work will help you get off to a good start. Monitoring the health of your workforce is also important, as is having a plan in place for what you’ll do if someone does become ill. 

Innovative Express Care accepts insurance for COVID-19 testing, making this service a sure win for employers. A reasonable fee applies for ongoing medical counsel, additional testing or medical care for ill employees. We are here to help businesses both large and small, and across all industries, protect their employees and customers.

Here are a few steps to get you started:

Initial Baseline Testing

  • It’s extremely important to give your employees confidence that you are doing everything you can to keep them safe. Your employees understand that there’s a risk to returning to work. But have you done everything you can to protect them? The first thing to do is COVID-19 swab testing for all employees. The last thing you want is to re-open and then immediately have an outbreak due to one person coming back to work with the virus. It closed down the Ford plant recently. While testing every employee prior to coming back to work takes a bit of time and money, it shows your employees that you are serious about their health, and it helps to ensure a smooth re-opening.

Temperature Screening Before and After Work

  • Until there are no cases in Illinois, we must take measures to protect employees and prevent outbreaks. Daily temperature checks combined with asking employees if they have felt feverish, have experienced body aches, or have a cough is important to make sure your employees do not spread this virus.

Strict Isolation for Symptomatic Employees

  • You must have a strict policy in place when employees present with a fever. Prepare protocols on how you will get employees tested and evaluated by a physician quickly, as well as procedures for coming back to work. We offer same-day COVID-19 testing in our parking lot (while the patient remains in their car). We can then follow up with them via a virtual telemedicine visit to assess their symptoms and determine if they are cleared to get back to work. We will provide a note if they are approved to return to work.

Random Testing

  • For 2 weeks, there should be random testing on your high risk employees (those working in close contact with others). COVID-19 tests are generally covered by insurance, and Innovative Express Care can help you establish these protocols.

Although we will come to you, ongoing care can be done quickly and cost-effectively with telemedicine. We have used telemedicine to provide convenient care since I opened the clinic five years ago. When COVID-19 struck, we increased our telemedicine capacity by 1,000 percent and used virtual appointments to evaluate patients before they came on-site for testing. Telemedicine access is now available to employers who want to ensure their employees have quick access to care if someone becomes ill.

For more information about occupational health services at Innovative Express Care, please visit us online and complete our online form

Dr. Khare Provides an Honest Account of the status of COVID-19 in the United States

Dr. Rahul Khare, Innovative Express Care

Many people have asked me how to best protect themselves and their family against the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. Here’s the bottom line: COVID-19 is coming the US and to Chicago. It is likely that a significant amount of people will get infected. There are however things you can do to limit your risk.

Fallout from the virus will go beyond the spread of illness in the United States. China supplies the world with many products. As such, global stock markets and financials may be in question. The risk of the virus itself, and the impact it will have on our economy, will be scary for all of us. However, transmission rates will begin to slow, and hopefully subside by the summer.

There are several things to keep in mind regarding the COVID-19 virus:
  • The mortality rate of COVID-19 is still relatively low compared to Swine Flu and SARS.
  • People who are over 75 years of age are more at risk than those who are younger. Kids, for some reason, seem to be protected somehow.
  • The single most important thing you can do, is wash your hands regularly. This means before every meal, after using the restroom, following a trip to the mall or running errands, etc. Frequent hand washing is crucial in preventing the spread of colds, flu and the novel coronavirus that is active in many countries, including in the United States.
  • Keep an eye on travel warnings – The CDC has issued several travel warnings in response to COVID-19 activity in several countries. Stay on top of the latest warning levels, which in many regions is to “avoid non-essential travel” currently.
  • Any time you are traveling abroad, it’s a good idea to consult with a travel medicine physician who can share region-specific health information and advise you on any precautions to take prior, or during your trip.
  • When you are sick, stay home – We all have work and school obligations, however the truth is, you aren’t doing yourself or anyone else any favors when reporting to these places sick. If you have symptoms of illness, especially fever, stay home. Respiratory illnesses such as cold viruses, flu, and the novel coronavirus are all easily spread when an infected individual comes in contact with others.
  • Use the CDC as your guide – Remember, despite your political allegiance, the CDC director is a veteran virologist, Robert Redfield, MD, who has studied HIV and other infectious viruses for over 30 years. We have to trust that the CDC will give us the proper instructions during the time of COVID-19

Innovative Express Care is an urgent care practice open seven days a week for your convenience. Contact us to schedule an appointment or walk-in, as wait times are typically less than 30 minutes.

Did you forget to get your flu shot this year? No problem, it’s not too late and we can help.

Need a new primary care physician? Innovative Primary Care is now accepting new patients.

Signs and Symptoms of Sinusitis

Sinusitis

Stuffy nose, drainage down the back of your throat and tenderness around your eyes or forehead are the most common signs and symptoms of sinusitis. Sinusitis describes inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. Healthy sinuses are filled with air. When they become blocked and filled with fluid, often cause by a common cold, germs can grow, resulting in a sinus infection.

Signs and symptoms of sinusitis:

  • Nasal inflammation
  • Thick discharge from the nose, often discolored
  • Postnasal drip down the back of the throat
  • Nasal obstruction or congestion
  • Pain, tenderness and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead
  • Lack of taste or smell

Sinusitis may also cause:

  • Sore throat
  • Ear pain
  • Aching in your teeth or jaw
  • Cough
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue

If you think you may have a sinus infection, call your provider for an appointment. Antibiotics may be necessary to clear your symptoms. Innovative Express Care has a walk-in urgent care and offers same-day appointments with our primary care providers.

Pink Eye: Four Facts

Pink Eye

As the alarm rings, you try to open your eyes and prepare for the day. But one feels…stuck? You pry it open and look in the mirror, only to see redness and a goopy mess – pink eye. Pink eye, officially known as conjunctivitis, is very common, and happens when the inside layer of the eyelid (the conjunctiva) becomes inflamed. Pink eye can be caused by viruses, bacteria or even allergens. Following are four facts you should know about pink eye and how to relieve the itching, redness and other frustrating symptoms that come with the condition.

Pink eye is highly contagious 

Conjunctivitis is very common among children, particularly those who are in daycare or school settings, but adults can also be infected. The illness is spread by touching your infected eye and then a surface, such as toys in a daycare, which then transmits the bacteria to another individual.

Hand washing is your best defense against pink eye 

Hand hygiene is key in avoiding pink eye. It’s also important to try to resist the temptation to touch your eyes unless you have freshly washed hands.

Antibiotic eye drops may be necessary 

Bacterial causes of pink eye will only clear up with an antibiotic eye drop. Signs of bacterial conjunctivitis include yellow or green discharge and sticky eyelids.

Call your doctor if you experience these symptoms

Some pink eye is caused by allergens or environmental irritants and will go away on its own. However, if you have bacterial conjunctivitis or symptoms that may be associated with another medical condition, you’ll need to contact your doctor. Symptoms that warrant a call to your doctor include:

    • Yellow or green discharge from your eye
    • Eyelids stuck together in the morning
    • Severe pain in your eye when you look at bright light
    • Vision impairment in the affected eye
    • High fever, chills, face pain or vision loss
    • Newborns with pink eye always require medical attention