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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

Monday, March 23, 2020 8:00 AM

This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and NorthShore will provide updated information as it becomes available.

We continue to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

If you have symptoms of fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or decreased sense of smell or taste OR have traveled to/from China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, or Europe/United Kingdom OR had contact with a person confirmed for COVID-19 infection or a person under investigation (someone who has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results) within the last 14 days OR attended large gatherings (250+ people), such as conferences or sporting events, with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or a person under investigation (someone who has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results) within the last 14 days, please call your physician, contact our community health hotline at 847.432.5849 or begin an E-Visit through NorthShoreConnect.

Read our frequently asked questions to learn more about NorthShore's response to COVID-19.

NorthShore University HealthSystem is closely monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) developments and we are prepared to handle the current situation through enhanced clinical and operational capabilities. We are continually updating our clinical and safety practices to ensure that all of our patients, visitors, staff and the communities we serve receive effective and protected care. The following is a list of frequently asked questions that are beneficial to our valued patients, visitors to our hospitals, Immediate Care sites and Medical Group offices, as well as NorthShore employees.

COVID-19 General Questions

What is the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
COVID-19 is a new virus that causes a respiratory viral syndrome that can range from a mild cold to severe pneumonia. Symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Is there more than one type of coronavirus?
Yes, there are 7 kinds of coronavirus, including the one that causes the common cold. Other coronaviruses include SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and COVID-19.

How is COVID-19 spread?
It’s believed to spread via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to influenza and other respiratory infections.

Where has COVID-19 spread?
Due to the rapidly changing nature of COVID-19, please visit Illinois Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or World Health Organization websites for the latest on the number of confirmed cases and related information in our communities, the United States, and globally.

Is there a vaccine?
Currently, there is not a vaccine for COVID-19.

Do I need to wear a mask to protect myself?
There’s no recommendation for healthy individuals with no respiratory symptoms to routinely wear a standard mask at this time.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 symptoms?
People with COVID-19 infection typically have symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or decreased sense of smell or taste. having traveled to/from China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, or Europe/United Kingdom OR had contact with a person confirmed for COVID-19 infection or a person under investigation (someone who has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results) within the last 14 days OR attended large gatherings (250+ people), such as conferences or sporting events, with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or a person under investigation (someone who has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results) within the last 14 days. If you have the symptoms and are over 60 years old or have chronic diseases or your immune system is weak, you may be at higher risk for a severe COVID-19 infection. Not all patients with these symptoms or risk factors need COVID-19 testing. If you feel you have COVID-19 symptoms you should:

  1. Call your physician first but please be patient. There may be some delays due to the number of people calling. 
  2. Contact our community health hotline at 847.432.5849. Listen to the choices to guide you to the information you are looking for.
  3. If you’re a NorthShoreConnect user, you may schedule an e-visit.

If your symptoms are worsening or you think you need emergency services, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Should everyone with symptoms that could be due to COVID-19 be evaluated and tested?
Testing is being reserved for symptomatic, high risk individuals. These are individuals with fever, cough, shortness of breath, or decreased sense of smell or taste, the appropriate travel or contact history or who have significant chronic disease.

If you are otherwise healthy with symptoms of fever or respiratory symptoms, please stay home, practice social distancing and use supportive care. Supportive care includes rest, fluids, using fever-reducing medications, practicing social distancing.  If you have other questions, please call our community health hotline at 847.432.5849 or schedule an e-visit.

Should I go to the Emergency Room?
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.  
As it relates to COVID-19: please refer to the “What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 symptoms” above.

I hear NorthShore has its own COVID-19 test. Can I be tested to see if I have COVID-19?
We are only providing testing to those patients who meet the CDC and IDPH criteria for testing—which is testing appropriate symptomatic individuals (people with symptoms). We are not routinely testing asymptomatic individuals (people with no symptoms).

How can I participate in a COVID vaccine trial?
NorthShore University HealthSystem is not participating in any COVID-19 vaccine trials at this time.

NorthShore Patient Plan

Is NorthShore screening everyone for possible fever or respiratory symptoms or COVID risk factors upon arrival to your hospitals?  
Yes, everyone is being screened including employees. Due to the expanding COVID-19 emergency, we are screening everyone who enters the hospital to ensure they don’t have COVID-19 symptoms. We are also screening individuals who are coming for in-person visits to our Immediate Care and office locations. Screening includes questions about symptoms, travel and contact exposure history. 

  • If your temperature is 100 degrees or higher or the answer to any of our screening questions demonstrates that you are at risk for COVID-19 infection, we will not allow you in our acute care pavilions.
  • Please refer to the “What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 symptoms” above.

We understand how important it is for hospital patients to have the support of loved ones during their stay, but these steps are necessary to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff. We encourage the use of phone based video capabilities such as FaceTime and What’s App.

Is NorthShore allowing family or friends come to visit loved ones who are hospitalized?
NorthShore has implemented a visitor restriction policy. We are making rare exceptions on a case by case basis. And any visitor allowed into our pavilions will have to pass our screening assessment. Please read our current visitor policy information letter.  

Is NorthShore cancelling surgeries and procedures? 
ALL emergency and urgent surgeries and interventional procedures will continue as planned. However, all elective, non-emergency surgeries and procedures are postponed effective immediately and until further notice. This action was taken to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff; and is based on the U.S. Surgeon General directive and the American College of Surgeons guidance.

  • If your condition changes, please call your surgeon/physician to have your concerns assessed.
  • If you do not hear from your surgeon’s/physician’s office within the next 3 weeks, please call your surgeon’s/physician’s office directly regarding rescheduling your case.

If I’m not an established NorthShore patient and/or not active on NorthShoreConnect, and I test positive for COVID-19 while in your Emergency Department, who can provide me with a letter to my employer?
You will need to contact your doctor and provide a copy of the discharge guidance documents that the Emergency Department provides upon your discharge. Then, please ask your primary care physician, or PCP, to write a letter that outlines the appropriate advice based on how you are doing. If you do not have a PCP, then you will need to contact your Employee Health representative at your place of employment and provide the discharge documents that you received from NorthShore upon your discharge.

I tested positive for COVID-19 several, days ago, how long before the Illinois Department of Public Health contacts me?
Unfortunately, we are unable to answer your question. It is best that you contact the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) directly.

I run a business and an employee tested positive for COVID-19, what should I do?
It is best to contact your local department of public health. You may also call your city hall or village hall and request to be connected directly with someone in their public health department.

NorthShore Medical and Pharmaceutical Supply

Do you have enough medical supplies?
We are managing our supplies very carefully and sensibly for the protection of our patients and employees, given the worldwide shortages.

Can I buy supplies like masks and gloves at the hospitals?
We do not have supplies for purchase at any NorthShore site.

If I walk in to a NorthShore facility, can I get some supplies for my family?
No. Our current supplies are for staff use only while caring for patients.

Does NorthShore have adequate supplies of medication?
We are not experiencing a shortage of prescription medications. Our pharmacy staff are in contact with our vendors to ensure adequate supplies and are monitoring medication availability for any changes.

Donations from the Community

I would like to make a donation to NorthShore to help support the fight against COVID-19. How do I make a contribution?
NorthShore is appreciative and grateful for the outpouring of support from our community. We are currently accepting financial contributions through a special COVID-19 Response Fund. Click here to make a contribution. We are also accepting donations of select, critical supplies. Learn more about the supplies we need and the process to donate.

I would like to donate food to NorthShore employees. How do I make a food donation?
We are also happy to accept food donations for our staff.  Learn more about the process to donate food.

I have supplies that I would like to donate to NorthShore. How do I make that donation?
We are currently accepting select, critical supplies. Learn more about the supplies we need and the process to donate. Thank you for your generosity.

Tips for Everyone to Stay Healthy

What can I do to protect my health and safety?
There are several things we can all do to remain safe, healthy and vigilant.

  • Clean your hands often. Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use sanitizer when washing is not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you do, please wash your hands.
  • Practice social distancing: 6 feet of distance between people. This means keep space between you and others in public spaces.
  • Avoid contact with people who seem ill.
  • Avoid social gatherings where social distancing cannot be practiced. Use technology such as FaceTime/video communication to keep in touch with loved ones.
  • Please remember that social distancing is essential.
  • Stay home if you are sick. Do not return to work until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever without taking fever-reducing medications.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with tissue or in the crook of your arm; throw away used tissue and wash your hands.

Where to Get Updated Information

Where can I find more information about coronavirus?
You may also access additional information from the following sites: