Important Information for Patients of Alabama Allergy & Asthma Center Regarding Clinic Hours, Immunotherapy/Biologic Administration, and Policies
Thank you again for being a patient of Alabama Allergy & Asthma Center! We very much appreciate all of your support and patience during the COVID-19 pandemic. After seven weeks of making lots of adjustments to handle our “new normal,” we slowly are phasing back into becoming fully operational again. We are monitoring closely the recommendations of our local and state health departments to ensure the safety of our patients and staff. We are now in May which historically has been a very busy month for us. In May, you continue to have high tree pollen, but grass pollen now becomes an issue. Additionally, some patients have delayed their medical care due to COVID-19 concerns. Therefore, we are seeing a rise of in-person visits to our offices because they can no longer tolerate their worsening allergy and asthma symptoms. We are trying very hard to make sure that you have access to the best allergy and asthma care during this pandemic and peak allergy season. Like we have said before, we want to make sure that you stay well during this spring season and prevent you from using emergency rooms and urgent care offices.
Here is our latest update and summary of our COVID policies. The biggest update is that we are encouraging patients to start slowly going back on their regular immunotherapy schedule and that we are restarting our RUSH and Cluster Immunotherapy Procedures. We are also clarifying our mask policy to assure you that most face coverings are acceptable and that medical grade masks are not required. Everything else in this fifth revision, including open locations and hours of operation, remains essentially the same.
Please remember that you, your friends, and your family can find all of these updates on our website (www.alabamaallergy.com) and on Facebook and Instagram.
PLEASE CALL 205-871-9661 TO SCHEDULE YOUR NEW OR FOLLOW-UP APPOINTMENT: Ask about In-Person or Telehealth visit options
FOR IMMUNOTHERAPY/ALLERGY/BIOLOGIC PATIENTS: Starting RUSH and Cluster but rest is the same for the next couple of weeks.
Biggest Update: We are allowing patients to start our RUSH and Cluster immunotherapy protocol to start allergy immunotherapy/shots. These faster build-up options reduces the time to reach the maintenance dose to 4-6 months from 12 months, and they are available for adults and teenagers. We will continue to offer our conventional 12-month allergy immunotherapy protocol. Please call us at 205-871-9661 if you would like to start allergy immunotherapy/shots or have any further questions.
Biggest Update: We would like to encourage our allergy immunotherapy/shot patients to slowly get back on track with their immunotherapy. This can be based on your comfort level with the COVID-19 situation.
- If you are coming once a week, try now to come every 7-10 days.
- If you are coming every 2-3 weeks, then try now to come every 2-3 weeks (or 14-21 days).
- If you are coming every 3-4 weeks, then try now to come every 4 weeks.
However, please do not stress and worry about missing your allergy immunotherapy shots if you are not able to come to our office frequently. We can always make the proper adjustments to your treatment after this pandemic is over. Our first priority is to keep you safe. You still can follow these guidelines if you want to delay coming to our office.
- If you are coming once a week, you can miss 2 weeks without falling behind.
- If you are coming every 2 weeks, you can miss 4 weeks without falling behind
- If you are coming every 3-4 weeks, then can miss 6 weeks without falling behind
PLEASE CALL US AT 205-871-9661, PRESS #1 TO SCHEDULE YOUR IMMUNOTHERAPY/ALLERGY SHOTS.
For safety reasons, we will continue to schedule immunotherapy/biologic shots at all locations. This will allow us to control the flow of patients coming into our locations, and this will allow us to make sure we ask all of the proper screening questions and procedures. We will continue our social distancing in our lobby. We also will be maintaining immunotherapy patients who are on the highest concentrations on the same dose during the spring season to prevent any shot reactions.
Our HOURS for Immunotherapy/Biologic Injections at EVERY OPEN location: Will continue to be from 8 am to 3:30 pm. THE LAST SHOT WILL BE AT 3:30 PM!
- TRUSSVILLE: Open on WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, and FRIDAY from 8 am to 3:30 pm. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
- CULLMAN: Open on MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, and THURSDAY from 8 am to 3:30 pm. Closed on Fridays.
- CHELSEA: Open on WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, and FRIDAY from 8 am to 3:30 pm. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
- OXFORD: Open on MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, and THURSDAY from 8 am to 3:30 pm. Closed on Friday.
- HOMEWOOD: Open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 3:30 pm
- HOOVER: Open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 3:30 pm
ALABASTER AND UAB-WEST BESSEMER WILL REMAIN CLOSED FOR IMMUNOTHERAPY/BIOLOGIC INJECTIONS AT LEAST THROUGH MAY 31, 2020. THESE INJECTIONS HAVE BEEN MOVED TO THE HOOVER LOCATION.
If you are worried about coming to our office long-term we can offer you at-home allergy drops via our Alllergycare365 program of allergy drops. Please call 205-871-9661 and press option #1 to talk about allergy drops. Here’s our website link for more information https://alabamaallergy.com/for-patients/allergy-care-365/
- We are continuing to see NEW and ESTABLISHED patients in person in our offices. Please see at the end of this email about our safety procedures. Within the next week, we will be releasing a short video clip of all that we are doing in our offices to keep you safe while visiting our offices.
- We also are able to offer SAME DAY APPOINTMENTS for new and existing patients. Please call 205-871-9661, and we should be able to give you an appointment on that same day. These appointments can be either an in-person or Telehealth/Telemedicine appointment.
We continue to accept NEW PATIENTS using Telehealth/Telemedicine. We have gotten rave reviews from patients with our Telehealth option. If you have a friend or a family member that is having allergy and asthma problems, we can now see them through Telehealth/Telemedicine. This is a great way to be treated by one of our Board Certified Allergists from your home or office. There is no need to come to our office in person. Most major insurance companies now allow these Telehealth visits to be done over the phone. A few insurance companies require a video conference, and we are mainly using Zoom Video Conferencing and Apple FaceTime to conduct these visits. We can treat your acute allergy and asthma symptoms with Telehealth and then set up any allergy testing at a later date once the COVID-19 crisis is over.
We continue to offer Telehealth/Telemedicine Visits to our existing patients. We should be able to treat most of your allergies and asthma symptoms, answer any questions, and refill any of your medications.
If you are an existing patient and already have appointment with us, we will confirm if you want an in-person appointment or a Telehealth/Telemedicine visit if you do not want to come in.
If you do not have insurance and would like to see us, please call us and we will give you a reasonable cost for an in-person or Telehealth/Telemedicine visit.
ALL LETTER AND FORM REQUESTS that are needed employers, work, school, disability, FMLA, insurances, and other organizations will require a Telehealth/Telemedicine visit and a letter/document processing fee. All letters will require a 24-48 hours turnaround time and will be sent via the portal (our preference due to security regulations) or email.
As a reminder to our immunodeficiency, immunocompromised, or other immunology patients, we would highly recommend scheduling a Telehealth Visit if you need medical care.
FOR PATIENT VISITS: Locations and Hours remain the same but might expand in the next few weeks.
Our HOURS for Visits at EVERY Location: Will continue to be from 8 am to 4 pm
TRUSSVILLE: Open on WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, and FRIDAY from 8 am to 4 pm. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Dr. Massey will be primarily in charge of this location.
CULLMAN: Open on MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, and THURSDAY from 8 am to 4 pm. . Closed on Fridays. Dr. Anderson and his Nurse Practitioner Cindy Campbell will be in charge of this location.
CHELSEA: Open on WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, and FRIDAY from 8 am to 4 pm. . Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Dr. Argo and her Nurse Practitioner Abigail Gingrich and Monica Ray will be in charge of this locations.
OXFORD: Open on MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, and THURSDAY from 8 am to 4 pm. . Closed on Friday. Dr. Scott and his Nurse Practitioner Christina Latta will be in charge of this location.
HOMEWOOD: Will continue to operate all 5 days from 8 am to 4 pm. Dr. Soong and his nurse practitioner team and Dr. Anderson and his nurse practitioner team will be in this location.
HOOVER: Will continue to operate all 5 days from 8 am to 4 pm. Dr. Sikora and her nurse practitioner team and Dr. Maina will be in this location.
We will keep the ALABASTER AND UAB-WEST BESSEMER location CLOSED at least through May 31, 2020. We have moved all immunotherapy/biologics from these locations to HOOVER. See the next section.
There are numerous reasons for these changes. First, having fewer locations will let us tightly manage each location and be able to handle our aggressive prescreening policy, cleaning policy, and social distancing policy. Second, we have needed additional staff to implement these policies, thus having multiple locations would spread our staff too thin. Third, for patient and staff safety, we needed to keep the same staff at each location and reduce the possibility of spreading any infection from one location to another. Finally, we will have 2 locations available to re-open just in case any changes happen with city regulations or infection control regulations.
FOR BIOLOGICS INJECTIONS: Everything is the same.
We will be giving these injection during the shot hours listed above. We will continue the current policy of scheduling these injections at each of these locations. If you are on Nucala and Fasenra, we will temporarily waive the 30-minute wait after the injection. If you are on Xolair, we will take the appropriate precautions during your 30-minute wait.
FOOD ALLERGY TREATMENT CENTER: Accepting New Food Anaphylaxis Patients!
- We are continuing to do our new patient visits for food oral immunotherapy at the Food Allergy Treatment Center. If you or a family member have had anaphylaxis to a food, like to peanuts or tree nuts, you might be interested in learning about your treatment options. During this visit, you will learn about food oral immunotherapy, and we will help create a long-term treatment plan. This visit can be done in-person or virtually. Please call 205-558-9086 or 205-871-9661 to schedule a visit in-person or through Telehealth. For more information please visit https://www.alabamaallergy.com/food-allergy-treatment/
- For existing patients of the Food Allergy Treatment Center, our staff has been contacting you personally and keeping you updated with your treatment plan. We have been instructing you about what to do with your peanut/food oral immunotherapy. Please call the Food Allergy Treatment Center if you have any additional questions.
CLINICAL RESEARCH: Multiple Studies Ongoing
We are continuing to enroll new patients into our clinical research trials. We have some innovative research trials ongoing in the area of asthma, COPD, emphysema, hives and swelling, eczema, atopic dermatitis, hereditary angioedema, and immunodeficiencies. We will also have trials starting in nasal polyps and Allergy Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA). Please call Clinical Research Center of Alabama at 205-209-4100 or visit https://alclinicalresearch.com
OTHER PROCEDURES: Updates & Clarifications
- We are continuing to perform patch testing for contact dermatitis (a delayed skin reaction to chemicals).
- We will continue on a case-by-case basis any medically necessary drug/antibiotic challenges and chemical allergy testing. We strongly feel that these procedures might be valuable during this pandemic.
- Due to patient safety, we will continue to suspend following procedures for the next several weeks: food challenges, early introduction to high risk foods, and new starts for food oral immunotherapy.
OUR COVID POLICY REMINDERS
- As a reminder, we have a very vigorous Prescreening Procedure when you make an in-person appointment with us and when you come to our office. This procedure includes asking several additional questions. We apologize for any inconvenience in this process. We are trying to screen out any patients that might have an infection, which includes the flu and strep.
- If you or anyone in your home is experiencing signs or symptoms of a respiratory illness or is running a fever, we ask that you make a telehealth/telemedicine visit. If you or anyone in your household have been on a cruise or traveled by air the last 14 days, please contact our office to reschedule your appointment.
- We will continue social distancing in our waiting room, and we ask that all patients coming to our office to sit in designated open seats in each location. If you have a scheduled appointment, and the waiting area is at capacity, please check-in at our front desk and then wait in your car or outside. We will call you by cell phone when our team is ready to see you for your office visit.
- As a reminder, we are requesting patients to attend appointments alone if possible. We will limit each patient to one visitor only at his/her appointment. All visitors will also be required to complete a screening questionnaire upon entering the facility.
- Update: We do request that patients and visitors try to wear masks since this is part of the CDC guidelines. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
- Medical grade masks are not required. The coverings may include, but not be limited to items such as scarves or bandanas. The CDC state cloth face coverings may be fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost.
- We are continuing our stringent cleaning and disinfecting policies for the safety of our patients and staff.
- We are not doing any COVID-19 testing on patients. We are not doing any strep or flu testing. Please go to the Alabama Public Health Department Website for COVID-19 testing criteria and a list of testing sites: https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/cov-patients.html
- Update: If you did have COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19, we would like for you to be clear of symptoms for at least 30 days and show proof of two negative COVID-19 tests within 24 hours apart.
- With all of these policies, we believe all of our offices are just as safe, or even safer, as going to the grocery store or a supercenter.
SPRING ALLERGY SEASON TIPS
- Alabama Allergy has been featured on our local new stations. All of our news interviews will be posted on our Facebook page.
- Dr. Anderson was interviewed by WVTM13 on allergies vs coronavirus. https://www.wvtm13.com/article/doctor-helps-differentiate-between-allergies-and-coronavirus/31887624#
- Dr. Soong was interviewed on ABC33/40 on asthma and COVID-19 https://abc3340.com/news/abc-3340-news-iteam/moderate-to-severe-asthma-patients-at-higher-risk-of-getting-very-sick-from-covid-19
- Please follow our pollen counts. You can find them on our website www.alabamaallergy.com, on The Weather Channel website www.weather.com, and on Fox 6 News. We are the only pollen counting station in the state of Alabama.
- As a reminder, now is the time to take your allergy and asthma medications to keep yourself healthy and as safe as possible. If you need refills, then please call us for a Telehealth/Telemedicine visit. If your allergies and asthma are under control, then there will be less confusion on whether your symptoms are allergies/asthma or an infection. Additionally, by keeping you well, we will be helping our fellow doctors and nurses in hospitals and emergency rooms who need to be focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Here are our two favorite charts on how to tell the difference among allergies, flu, and COVID-19:
The mission of Alabama Allergy is to be the leading caregiver for patients with allergies and chronic respiratory problems. During the COVID-19 pandemic and during the spring pollen season, we have tried our hardest to fulfill this mission. Our entire staff is here to serve you and to keep you healthy. Please also give a big thank you to all of our fellow healthcare colleagues who are tirelessly working in hospitals and emergency departments trying to battle this pandemic.
Please be kind, and stay safe! We will all get through this crisis together.