Why does the CDC keep changing COVID guidelines?

As the COVID pandemic progresses worldwide, with many countries seeing an exponential resurgence, governments around the world are changing their public health strategies. Prevention, testing, and treatment guidelines are in constant flux, with agencies struggling to adapt to the peaks and dips in the spread of the virus. New data from studies, better understanding of preventive measures that work, and clinical practices are shaping the guidance being provided. 

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is no different. It has been laying down several testing and monitoring guidelines, to ensure that citizens take all the necessary precautions in order not to get infected by the coronavirus. 

WHY THE FREQUENT CHANGE IN RECOMMENDATIONS?

With the first wave of COVID, experts had begun debating the ways in which the virus spreads and what are some of the methods to best halt or limit progression. In some places, widespread fear of contaminated surfaces led to most businesses such as grocery stores to bleach and disinfect their service areas and groceries. The CDC soon concluded that person-to-person transmission was a much more pressing threat for community spread compared to infection via surface contamination, though it cannot be dismissed completely. The agency now has focused its guidance on avoiding the larger droplets expelled by sneezes and coughs, which are thought to be mostly limited to a six-foot radius. Wearing of masks is quickly becoming a norm and in many places, a mandate, including business establishments. 

Along with new recommendations, the CDC has also recently reversed its prior testing guidelines made in August to now recommend that anyone, regardless of symptoms, who has been in close contact with an infected person be tested for COVID. The coronavirus task force, with instructions from The White House had directed the CDC to change those guidelines in August, stating that asymptomatic people did not need to be tested.

With new COVID information and clinical data becoming available, the CDC has had to keep revising the previously stated recommendations, keeping in mind the safety of citizens. Prioritizing citizens’ health and wellbeing is one of the main concerns of the CDC. Since the pandemic began, with ongoing research a lot of new information has brought about numerous new findings, which is why CDC too has had to adapt and revise guidelines multiple times. With a novel virus that adapts to its environments, thus keeping scientists on their toes, standard operating procedures and guidelines will no doubt change regularly to reflect new findings. 

Despite all the changing recommendations and numerous revised guidelines, CDC continues to recommend that all people, whether they have been infected by the COVID virus or not, should take steps to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. And so in view of containing the spread of the virus, CDC has laid down several guidelines as well as preventive measures which citizens are required to  follow strictly.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES LAID DOWN BY THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION INCLUDE: 

  1. Washing of hands regularly with soap and water, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or cooking food. NOTE:If soap and water are not readily available, use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is necessary. 
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  4. In the presence of a crowd or at the office, practice social distancing by putting 6 feet between yourself and others.
  5. Above all, wear masks at all times.

Especially at a time like this, it is imperative that as concerned citizens, we should be highly cautious of our surroundings and people we come in contact with. Buckhead Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, wants you to be informed and to stay safe. In the event that you feel you may have contracted COVID-19, or are feeling unwell give us a call to set up an appointment to get tested.

Having limited information about the virus as well as reinfections that can be caused by the COVID virus, it is highly recommended to follow the safety measures laid down by the CDC and to work along with the agency, as they actively learn and provide us with all the necessary information to stay safe.

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FAQ

What services are provided as a part of my annual fee?
  • Same-day or next business day appointments
  • Direct access to Dr. Espinosa via his personal cell phone after hours, weekends, and holidays
  • Minimal office wait times
  • Longer, more comprehensive appointments
  • House Calls (requires additional trip fee)
  • A strong focus on preventive medicine, long-term health and wellness
  • A personal professional relationship with your physician
What is the mission of Buckhead Medicine?

We strive to provide the highest quality medical care, emphasizing a comprehensive approach to prevention and disease management. We want patients to be completely satisfied with every aspect of their care.

Where is your office and are you on the medical staff of a local hospital?

Yes, Dr. Espinosa’s office is in Buckhead, a suburb of Atlanta. He is on the medical staff of Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia and Northside Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. If you require hospitalization, Dr. Espinosa will coordinate your patient care by working with the hospital based physicians. He will also make periodic hospital visits during your hospitalization.

Who will cover for you when you are not available?

On infrequent occasions when Dr. Espinosa is out of town or otherwise unavailable, he will have another qualified physician cover for him. Even while out of town, Dr. Espinosa will generally be available by phone to his patients and to his covering physicians. For practical reasons, we reserve the right to designate another qualified physician to perform any and all services should the need arise.

Do you accept insurance?

Commercial Insurance and Medicare:
Buckhead Medicine is an In-Network provider for Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO, Aetna, Coventry, Humana, Cigna, Tricare and United Healthcare. Our practice fully participates in the Medicare program. Buckhead Medicine accepts all other insurance as an Out-of-Network provider. We, however, do not participate in the Medicaid program. Regardless of your plan, we will bill your insurance for all covered services. It is our intention that no insurance-covered medical services are included in your annual fee.

HMO and Medicare HMO:
We do not participate in HMO programs. As such, HMO patients will not be able to join the practice until they transition to either a PPO or traditional Medicare plan.

Do I still need insurance if I enroll with you?

Yes. Personalized medical practices do not take the place of general health insurance coverage. Buckhead Medicine is a primary care medical practice, not a health insurance program. You are advised to continue your PPO, Medicare or other insurance program. If you are an uninsured individual and desire to enroll in the practice, we will provide you with a discounted fee schedule for office visits, tests and procedures.

What if I don't have health insurance?

For uninsured patients, Buckhead Medicine offers an uninsured patient plan. Although this plan is not insurance, it does cover for all clinic visits and any labs or tests that are performed in our office. In many cases this plan provides for significant cost savings to uninsured individuals. Please contact our office for additional details on this plan.

Will my insurance still be billed for my office visits?

Yes, we will bill your insurance company directly. The annual fee does not cover costs for regular exams or testing conducted inside or outside of the clinic. These costs are billed to your insurance provider in the same manner that traditional practices bill insurers.

Is there a co-payment?

If you have commercial insurance, we will collect the co-payment at the time of service. Medicare patients usually do not require a co-payment.

Do you bill Medicare for the annual fee?

No. The annual fee is not covered by Medicare. The fee only includes services that are not covered by Medicare and, as such, cannot be paid for or reimbursed by Medicare. We will bill Medicare for your sick visits and for any additional services performed at this practice that are covered by Medicare.

Will my commercial insurance reimburse my annual fee?

No, commercial insurance does not typically reimburse for the annual fee. However, some Flexible Spending Account and Health Savings Account plans may pay for all or part of the annual fee. In addition, some insurance plans allow the concierge fee to apply towards the annual deductible. Members are advised to consult their human resources representative at their place of employment.

Is the annual fee tax deductible?

In many cases the annual fee is a tax deductible healthcare expense. Patients are advised to consult with their tax consultant to clarify qualification in their particular circumstance.

Does the annual fee cover lab, x-ray, specialist fees and hospitalization?

Services such as labs, x-ray, specialty visits or hospitalizations are covered based on coverage determined by your insurance plan.

Are there age limits?

Dr. Espinosa is an Internal Medicine physician. His specialty is Adult medicine. Dr. Espinosa is trained to manage acute and chronic medical illnesses among adults. As such, the practice is limited to patients 17 years of age and older.

What if I have an emergency?

If you have a life threatening emergency, call 911 immediately. After you call 911, please call Dr. Espinosa. He will contact the hospital and notify the emergency room of your tentative arrival. In addition, Dr. Espinosa will provide the emergency room with pertinent medical history information

How far in advance do I need to book an appointment?

Dr. Espinosa is committed to providing his patients with easy access to care. All urgent visits will be accommodated either same day or next day, placing the greatest priority on the sickest patients. Annual physical exams will be booked 1 to 2 weeks in advance.

What do I do if I become ill while traveling or away on an extended vacation?

Call 911 if you have a life threatening emergency. Then call Dr. Espinosa. Call Dr. Espinosa first if the problem is minor. With the exception of a few controlled substances, most prescriptions can be ordered anywhere in the country. If necessary, it may be possible for Dr. Espinosa to find you a resource in your area. If you seek care at an emergency room or urgent care center out of our area, we request that you have the doctor seeing you call Dr. Espinosa for coordination. Dr. Espinosa will be readily available by phone for consultation with you and/or other health care personnel. If you should require hospitalization while away, at your request, Dr. Espinosa will establish phone communication with you and your attending physician(s) to ensure continuity of care.

Do you make house calls?

House calls will be available to Buckhead Medicine members, within a limited radius from the clinic. These will be done as deemed appropriate by Dr. Espinosa on a case-by-case basis. Home visits will be billed to your insurance provider similar to an office visit. A separate trip fee is required for house calls.

What if I need to see a specialist or a surgeon?

Of course, Buckhead Medicine patients are free to see any specialist they wish. We are available to help you decide what specialists to see and to coordinate such consultations. Patients may frequently request for “doctors in my area”, and we can accommodate this. We will ensure that the most appropriate resources are used, the earliest arrangements are made, and your applicable medical information is sent in advance of your specialist visit.

What about the cost of prescription medications?

The cost of prescription medications are the patient’s responsibility and in most cases should be covered by their insurance plans. We have expertise in assisting patients in purchasing medications in the most cost effective manner.

Will I be required to pay my annual fee even if I do not use your services?

Yes. Paying your annual fee allows you to be a member of the practice whether you are sick or well. We encourage our patients to utilize the amenities offered such as wellness consultations and emails for appropriate non-urgent health related questions, regardless of your state of health.

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