As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to assure you that Southern Cancer Center is closely monitoring new information and new developments from healthcare officials. The health and safety of our patients remains our top priority. We strongly encourage all patients NOT experiencing flu-like symptoms to continue with their prescribed treatment plans and attend all previously scheduled appointments. Your cancer care needs currently outweigh the risk posed at this time.
*** SCC patients should immediately notify our office if you are experiencing symptoms of a cough, fever or difficulty breathing, flu-like symptoms or if you may have been exposed to COVID-19. Due to the nature of our patient population, it is IMPERATIVE that patients call our office for further direction prior to coming into the office for medical care if they are experiencing symptoms or believe they may have been exposed.
As a reminder, we have physicians available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If our patients or their families require assistance outside of normal business hours, please call our office at 888-625-6896 and our on-call staff will assist you further.
The following restrictions are in place at all Southern Cancer Center clinics, effective immediately until further notice (updated 4/26/21):
- ONE visitor per patient is allowed in exam rooms and treatment areas at all of our clinic locations.
- Chairs in waiting areas will no longer be taped or blocked off, and all chairs may be used for seating.
- Sub-waiting areas will reopen, in clinics that have them, to relieve waiting room volumes.
- Temperature checks will no longer be taken at the front desk, but temp checks will remain a part of our clinical staff’s patient vital screening routine.
- ALL patients and visitors MUST wear a face covering and practice social distancing while inside of our clinics.
- All patients and visitors should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before entering our clinics.
For your safety and convenience, Southern Cancer Center offers virtual appointments scheduled through a service called telemedicine. These appointments allow for a real-time conversation between you and your provider through a secure platform. Telemedicine does not eliminate the need for patients to travel for certain aspects of treatment and in-person doctor visits, but offers patients the option to visit with their physician when traveling to the office is not ideal.
How It Works: Your provider will connect to your smartphone or tablet using a HIPAA compliant app found in your app store. During your visit, you and your provider will be able to see and hear one another. If you’re having trouble downloading the app or connecting to it, please call our office at 251.625.6896 and trained members of our staff will be able to assist you.
Who Can You Speak With: Every physician and nurse practitioner at Southern Cancer Center is available for appointments through telemedicine.
Appropriate Telemedicine Visits: Each of our providers will independently determine when a telemedicine visit is appropriate for a patient, but some examples may include:
- Evaluate patients that have infectious risk without bringing them in to the office
- Select new patient visits
- Acute care visits
- Certain patient education and/or counseling visit
- Support our patients who are on active treatment
- Provide routine care and follow up of our patients who are not on active treatment
Insurance Coverage: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most major insurance carriers now provide various levels of coverage for telemedicine visits.
See this patient facing, step-by-step guide to download the VSee program used for a telemedicine visit: https://enews.mckessonspecialtyhealth.com/rs/856-MGL-296/images/PatientPCInstructions.mp4
How Our Patients Can Protect Themselves
Cancer patients often have compromised immune systems and therefore can be at additional risk for catching COVID-19. Patients and their caregivers can protect themselves by taking common-sense prevention steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly, frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
- Avoid close contact, for at least 14 days, with anyone who may have traveled to an area with COVID-19 outbreaks.
- Stay home if you are not well.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid large crowds while receiving active therapy and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or cough into your elbow, then throw the tissue into a trash can.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects with a bleach or alcohol based cleaning solution.
- If your caregiver is sick they should seek medical help and avoid contact with them until they are well or free from fever for at least 24-48 hours.
It may be necessary to wear a face mask.
- The CDC recommends that the general population wear non-medical, cloth face masks or coverings in public and whenever social distancing is difficult to maintain. All face coverings should cover both the nose and mouth.
- Face coverings are to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.
Steps Southern Cancer Center is taking due to COVID-19:
- The CDC-recommended protocols for healthcare providers regarding COVID-19 are aligned with existing protocols for flu season, which already are in place at Southern Cancer Center.
- During flu season we emphasize an array of preventative measures that protect our staff and our patients from exposure to illness. These include hand hygiene (washing hand with soap and/or alcohol-based sanitizers) and proper use of personal protective equipment like gloves, face masks and gowns.
- In addition, our teams have been educated to our established protocol for isolating patients who come into our locations exhibiting concerning symptoms. As the COVID-19 situation changes, we will keep our staff and our patients updated.
- We have restricted office access to outside vendors and non-essential reps, as well as made modifications to our patient visitor’s policy (see above).
- We have implemented travel restrictions for our employees, are checking staff temperatures, have taken extra employee “social distancing” precautions, and have mandated that any employee(s) with fever and respiratory symptoms stay home.
Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been in close contact or exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department. Close contact could mean:
- You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
- You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
- You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
- You shared eating or drinking utensils
- They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
Those who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, should isolate themselves even if they are not experiencing symptoms. Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their own home. Stay home for 5 days. If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your house. Continue to wear your mask around others for an additional 5 days. If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves.
About the Disease
Coronaviruses are a type of virus. There are many different kinds, and some cause disease. A coronavirus identified in 2019, SARS-CoV-2, has caused a pandemic of respiratory illness, called COVID-19. Most people infected with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
The best way to prevent and slow down the transmission of COVID-19 is to be fully vaccinated and well informed. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face. The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person among those in close contact, or persons within about 6 feet of each other. The virus spreads by respiratory droplets released when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes, breathes, sings or talks. These droplets can be inhaled or land in the mouth, nose or eyes of a person nearby.
It can also spread if a person touches a surface or object with the virus on it and then touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes, although this isn’t considered to be a main way it spreads. In some situations, the COVID-19 virus can spread by a person being exposed to small droplets or aerosols that stay in the air for several minutes or hours — called airborne transmission. It’s not yet known how common it is for the virus to spread this way.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu and respiratory illnesses. Symptoms may appear from 2-14 days after exposure. The CDC recommends that patients showing signs and symptoms be isolated to prevent infecting others with the virus for a period of 10-14 days. If a person experiences any of the following symptoms, especially fever, cough or shortness of breath, he or she should consult a physician.
- Fever or Chills
- Sore Throat
- Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing
- Muscle or Body Aches
- Nasal Congestion
- Runny Nose
- New Loss of Taste or Smell
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Trouble Breathing
- Persistent Pain or Pressure in Chest
- New Confusion
- Inability to Wake or Stay Awake
- Bluish Lips or Face
Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended in the United States to prevent COVID-19: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen.
Pfizer-BioNTech (COMIRNATY) received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval on August 23, 2021, for individuals ages 16 years and older. Once vaccines are approved by the FDA, companies can market the vaccines under brand names. COMIRNATY is the brand name for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. After FDA approval, the FDA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals ages 16 years and older was marketed as COMIRNATY. No change was made to the vaccine’s formula with the name change. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine label remains for individuals ages 5–15 years since the vaccine is authorized but not yet approved for this age group.
Number of Shots: 2 shots, 21 days apart. Moderately or severely immunocompromised people ages 5 years and older should get an additional primary shot at least 28 days after their second shot.
Booster Shot: Everyone ages 16 years and older can get a booster shot at least 5 months after completing their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series. Teens 16-17 years old can only get a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster. For adults 18 years and older, a booster dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines) is preferred in most situations.
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is available under Emergency Use Authorization for those ages 18 and older. It is given in two doses, 28 days apart. People who received a Moderna primary series should get a booster shot at least 6 months after completing their primary series. You can get any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States for your booster shot.
The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is available under Emergency Use Authorization for those ages 18 and older, and is given with a single dose injection. Everyone ages 18 years and older should get a booster dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines) at least 2 months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) vaccine in most situations.
Southern Cancer Center is not currently administering the COVID-19 vaccine, but we STRONGLY encourage all eligible individuals be fully vaccinated with one of the authorized vaccines listed above. Please discuss any concerns or address any questions you have about the COVID-19 virus and its vaccine with your physician.
Information about the vaccine (status, availability, safety, etc.) is updated regularly and made available at these following sites:
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: Vaccines
- Alabama Department of Public Health COVID-19 page
- Alabama Department of Public Health COVID-19 vaccine page
- Mobile County Health Department
- Baldwin County Health Department (Facebook page)
We urge you to turn to trusted, reliable sources for information about COVID-19, to help you avoid misinformation. It is important to understand the facts to avoid unnecessary or misplaced fear. We recommend these websites: