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Update for clinicians: COVID-19

Daniel Frank, MD, Chief Medical Officer, OptumCare

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Optum delivers personalized care with a family of more than 48,000 doctors and 1,300 neighborhood clinics across the United States — from primary care to urgent care and more. We work together to help over 18 million people live healthier lives.

Our goal is to put each person on the right course of care. We do this by providing each patient with a care team that works together to meet the patient’s needs. Our doctors use proven treatment plans backed by the latest research. 

Together, patients and their care team can create a personal wellness plan. To us, success means the health and happiness of our patients. That’s how we’re helping to create a health care system that works better for everyone.

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At this time, awareness and preparedness are at the front of our efforts to diffuse information to our employees and patients. As health care providers, we anticipate an increase in viral illnesses at times, and are therefore ready to work together to best prevent the spread of the illness and treat the sick.

COVID-19 facts

COVID-19 (also known as novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2) is part of the family of coronaviruses that cause illness in both animals and people. This virus, COVID-19, was originally detected in China. Symptoms appear similar to upper respiratory infections and may include fever, cough and shortness of breath. 

The mode of transmission is unknown at present. It may be airborne like TB or it may be similar to cold and flu virus — by droplets expelled from an infected person’s respiratory tract, picked up by hands and brought to the eyes, nose or mouth of the person to be infected.  

As Dr. Richard Migliori, chief medical officer, UnitedHealth Group, commented, “It is too soon since the emergence of this virus to fully understand how it acts and what we might expect, including whether it will be short lived, the severity of the illness, and the ease at which it might spread.” However, “UnitedHealth Group has a team of experts working to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep people safe.”

Keeping employees safe

The safety of direct patient care providers is of the most crucial importance as the impact of COVID-19 unfolds here in the United States. Employees will continue to receive training and guidance developed using the most up-to-date CDC evidence based protocols.

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Keeping patients safe

We have encountered our first patients with COVID-19, and have successfully triaged and begun treatment of these patients while keeping staff and other patients safe. 

Keeping up to date on recognizing the symptoms of COVID-19, following CDC PPE recommendations, and cleaning and disinfecting patient areas following CDC infection control guidelines is the key to maintaining the health, safety and trust our communities have in us.

Ensuring preparedness

As individuals and as providers educating a patient population, it’s wise to educate ourselves on the basics of public health safety during a viral incident. Use only high-quality sources like the CDC for information on the virus. 

Do your best to stay well by washing hands and practicing good hygiene. Do not go to work or out in public if you are sick, coughing or sneezing. Plan and prepare in advance to care for yourself and loved ones at home. If you or a loved one becomes sick but you are not sure if you require medical assistance, call your family physician or use a telemedicine service for initial assessment. 

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Staying current

As Dr. Migliori said, the future effects of COVID-19 are still unknown. Regular updates will come to all employees of UHG via email, based on our internal expert committees and the guidance of the CDC

By being educated and prepared as both individual clinicians and as a large group of well-informed health care professionals, we are well prepared to meet our patients’ needs during this challenge.

As health care providers, we are on the front lines of ensuring accurate information and the best care are delivered to our patients every day. We know that many of you are putting in long days caring for our patients and planning for the days ahead and we are grateful for all you are doing to deliver on our mission for our patients, and for supporting them during this challenging time.

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This publication is informational and for educational purposes for practitioners only. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of OptumCare. The views and opinions expressed may change without notice.