Holidays during COVID: Here’s How to Celebrate Safely

Broken ornament on a blue background representing COVID disrupting Christmas and holiday traditions.

With the promise of vaccines just around the corner, it finally feels like we’re in the home stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic. And it’s so tempting to put thoughts of the virus aside as the holidays approach. After all we’ve been through this year, haven’t we earned a celebration?

Yes. But. We aren’t out of the woods yet. And experts predict that the choices Americans make this holiday season will determine how much higher those death tolls rise before a vaccine becomes widely available.

So with that in mind, we have a few tips on how to celebrate safely in 2020.

Tip 1: Celebrate in person only with members of your own household

We know. This tip is not what anyone wants to hear. But this is what the CDC recommends, and we have to agree: with COVID cases spiking across the country, the only safe way for Americans to celebrate the holidays this year is with members of our own households.

This is because even if you and your would-be dinner guests are young, healthy, and have a relatively low risk of getting seriously ill from COVID, your community is full of people who are not —and those folks often don’t have a choice to completely isolate or avoid exposure. As of November 19, we have reached the devastating landmark of a million new COVID cases every week and nearly 2,000 Americans dying in a single day. Evidence suggests that young, asymptomatic carriers are behind this fall’s dramatic increase in community spread.

We are still in the midst of a national pandemic, with case numbers soaring higher than ever before. Remember back in March, when we cheered for healthcare workers every night and sewed homemade masks for local hospitals?

We need to summon that spirit again. During this season of giving, we all need to do our part to keep our vulnerable neighbors safe. Stay home when you can, even on holidays, and wear a mask when you can’t.

Tip 2: ‘Tis the season to get creative

Depressing news aside, there are still ways to make memories and celebrate holidays with your extended family and friends.

First, since we now know that COVID is much more likely to spread through the air than via surfaces, you can feel comfortable sending holiday cards, gifts, even homemade baked goods throughout the season. (No more need to worry about microwaving the mail, in other words.)

Think of how to move your beloved traditions online, like virtual holiday movie screenings, cookie baking sessions, recipe swaps, crafting parties, or happy hours. And spend a little extra time planning and scheduling these activities in advance—the anticipation is half the fun, and having something fun to look forward to could mean a lot to loved ones living alone.

You can even plan a Friendsgiving feast, 2020 style: coordinate with “guests” to prepare side dishes, exchange them at a distance, and return home to dine over video hangout.

No, it’s not the same—but it’s safe.

Tip 3: Don’t rely on COVID testing to feel safe

We’re concerned to see reports of COVID testing skyrocketing over the last week—partly due to increased community spread of the virus, but partly due to holiday-related demand for tests.

The truth is simple. You cannot rely on a negative COVID test to keep your loved ones safe.

Tests capture a snapshot of how much coronavirus is present in your body at the moment in time you took the test. The incubation period for COVID ranges from two days to two weeks—meaning you could be exposed one day, test negative the next, and develop symptoms a few days later.

“People need to recognize that a test today only proves you’re OK today. It says nothing about whether you might be incubating, or exposed, and won’t turn positive tomorrow or the next day,” according to infectious disease specialist Dr. Cameron Wolfe.

Let’s say you were tested on the morning of December 19, six days before Christmas, and your test is negative. If you were exposed to COVID on December 18, your test is meaningless—the virus takes at least 48 hours to incubate in your body.

If you were exposed to COVID on December 14, your December 19 test results still could be inaccurate—you may not have enough of the virus in your body to register a positive test, but by Christmas Day, you could be invisibly yet highly contagious with zero symptoms. In this scenario, you could isolate for twelve days, drive a few hours with no stops, and still infect your family.

And of course, you could get exposed to the virus anytime after your test, including on your airplane or car ride to Grandma’s house.

We’ll say it one more time: A negative COVID test is not proof you and your loved ones are safe.

We know this post is a big bummer. But it’s not nearly as depressing as unintentionally spreading COVID to someone you love—or a stranger you’ll never know. Do your part, stay home, and help everyone have a happy holiday!


Along with mashed potatoes, egg nog, and pie, the holidays serve up a helping of health hazards. If you experience a holiday mishap this Thanksgiving, we’re here. 

Flu, Cold or COVID? A Simple Guide to Symptoms

Woman holding a tissue against a blue background, wondering she she has the flu, a cold, or COVID.

Dealing with the sniffles or lingering cough is annoying at the best of times. During a global pandemic, brought on by a respiratory illness with flu-like symptoms? Downright stressful. 

And the tricky thing about identifying COVID-19 is that it presents a really wide range of symptoms. Some cases involve no symptoms whatsoever, mild cases may only mean a cough or runny nose, moderate cases can feel a lot like the flu, and severe cases can require hospitalization. Usually, you’ll need to take a test to know for sure if you’ve been infected.

While it’s important to take any possibility of COVID-19 seriously to avoid spreading the virus, we don’t want you to panic. If you (or a loved one) are feeling unwell, the best approach—as always—is to take a calming breath and start with the science. 

In this post, we’ll go over the usual symptoms, timing, and recommended next steps for the three likely culprits: the common cold, the flu, and COVID-19. 

The symptom unique to COVID-19

Let’s get this one out of the way. The CDC reports that there’s really only one symptom that’s mostly specific to COVID-19, compared to the common cold and flu: losing your sense of smell or taste

“There are many symptoms of a ‘common cold,’ flu and COVID-19 that overlap, including fever, sneezing, cough and fatigue,” epidemiologist Dr. Sadiya Khan recently told Northwestern University. “One symptom that seems to be unique to COVID-19 is a loss of sense of smell or taste. However, none of these symptoms are perfect to diagnose the cause of ‘cold-like’ symptoms, and the only way to know for sure is to get tested.”

If you can’t detect strong aromas like coffee or garlic, and you’re experiencing a fever and/or a persistent cough, stay home, isolate yourself, and set up a video visit at zoomcare.com to get safe and easy testing. 

Shared symptoms for the flu and COVID-19

While COVID-19 is difficult to identify from symptoms alone, it’s usually easier to tell a cold from the flu, because colds don’t tend to involve severe body aches or fever. If you’re running a fever or feeling that familiar “I got hit by a truck” fatigue, it’s likely the flu or COVID-19. (Sorry.) 

That said, the following symptoms are common for all three viruses:

  • Cough (usually milder with the cold, usually deep or dry with COVID-19)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat (more common in the cold than the flu or COVID)
  • Runny or stuffy nose (more common with the cold, rarely the only symptom for the flu)

Symptoms that often or sometimes appear in both COVID-19 and the flu, but rarely with a cold, include:

  • Fever (or feeling feverish, like the chills)
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache 
  • Vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea (more common in children than adults, and more common with the flu than COVID-19)

Note that many mild cases of COVID-19 only involve a runny nose or congestion—no fever ever appears. So don’t assume you just have a cold if a sniffle or stuffy nose is your only symptom. You could still be infected with COVID-19, and run the risk of getting others seriously ill.

Common symptoms of the common cold

The good news: sneezing, watery eyes, and post-nasal drip are usually symptoms of a cold or allergies. Sometimes, they’ll appear with the flu. They’re even less common with COVID-19, but not impossible, because COVID can display a wide range of symptoms and we’re still learning about this new virus.

Timing of symptoms 

Don’t just pay attention to what symptoms you experience—notice when you start to feel unwell, how quickly they appear after possible exposure, and how long they last.

  • Cold symptoms usually show up within 2 to 3 days of infection, and they tend to appear gradually. 
  • Flu symptoms usually begin about 1 to 4 days after you’ve been infected by the virus, and tend to show up suddenly.
  • COVID-19 symptoms, if they appear at all, typically show up 5 to 7 days after exposure—but can begin as early as 2 days or as late as 14. 

Symptoms for all three viruses can last for a few weeks, but cold and flu symptoms usually get better over time. If your symptoms continue to worsen after a week, go to zoomcare.com to schedule a remote COVID-19 screening. 

What to do if you show symptoms of COVID-19

If you show any of the above symptoms of COVID-19, you should schedule a COVID screening  right away. If you know you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 by being in close contact (defined as 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period) with someone who tests positive, even if you have zero symptoms, you should isolate yourself and call your doctor. 

Red flags for COVID-19

We’ve focused mostly on common and mild symptoms, but if you or a loved one experiences any of the following, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing or gasping for air
  • Blue or purple lips or face
  • Persistent chest pain or pressure 
  • New confusion
  • Inability to stay awake or conscious 

Bottom line: play it safe, but don’t panic

We know for sure that COVID-19 is very contagious and we don’t yet have a vaccine. Testing can help you know for sure if you have the virus, but false negatives are frequent, so play it safe. If you show any symptoms, wear a mask at all times, avoid unnecessary contact with others (even in your household), wash your hands frequently, and call your doctor to discuss your specific symptoms and circumstances. 

Finally, don’t panic. Your sniffles are statistically unlikely to land you in the hospital, but heightened stress levels can take a toll. That’s why we’re here to help you deal with COVID-19 concerns of all kinds, whenever you need us.

Working from Home is a Pain in the Neck. These Ergonomic Dos and Don’ts Can Help.

Spine on blue background. Follow these ergonomic tips while working at home to avoid neck and back pain.

Remote work has its perks, but ergonomics isn’t one of them. 

As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, millions of Americans are still working from home, spending countless (pantless) hours on the couch, hunched over a tiny laptop screen. 

And while it may seem cozy to work from your sofa or bed, you could be setting yourself up for potential musculoskeletal injuries—carpal tunnel, tendonitis, muscle sprain, and lower back and neck pain, to name a few. 

The good news is, there are several ways to create a comfy-yet-functional work set up and prevent long-term damage to your body.

If you’re starting to feel pains of WFH life (read: neck or back pain, swollen legs or feet, or numbness and tingling in the fingers), now is the time to make changes to your workspace.

As ZOOM+Care’s Dr. Michael Lell, DC says, “Taking the time to make little changes like this saves a lot of time and headache in the future. It’s easier to adjust your chair than suffer from daily neck pain.”

Keep scrolling for some chiropractor-approved do’s and don’ts of working at home: 

DON’T hunch over your laptop. 

Doing so for 40+ hours a week can lead to back, shoulder, and neck strain. If you can, use a laptop riser or an external monitor while working.

As a rule of thumb, your eye line should be level with the top of your computer monitor.

If you place your laptop on a riser, consider using a separate mouse and keyboard as well. Your elbows should be bent at 90 degrees while typing—which can be tricky to achieve if your laptop is elevated. 

That reminds us: DO use the 90-degree rule. 

Sitting seems like a tough thing to screw up, but alas—there is a “right” way to sit while working at your computer. 

To ensure proper alignment of your arms and legs while sitting, think 90-90-90. Sitting with a 90-degree angle at the elbows, hips, and knees allows for the least physical strain in a seated position.

DON’T dangle your feet. 

During the workday, try to keep both of your feet flat on the floor as much as you can. 

When you plant your feet on the ground, you’re stable. When you dangle them, you can throw off the arch in your lower back, which can eventually lead to back pain. 

Don’t pull your feet back underneath your chair, either—this puts pressure under your thighs, which restricts blood flow to your lower legs and increases your risk of complications, such as deep vein thrombosis.

If your feet don’t reach the floor, try placing them on a footrest, box, or pile of books. To reduce stress on your lumbar spine, make sure your thighs are parallel to the floor with your hips slightly higher than your knees.

DO incorporate standing.  

Miss your standing desk? It’s no wonder: Working while standing is linked to decreased lower and upper back pain and neck pain. As an added bonus, alternating between sitting and standing can also increase your productivity and focus.

While most of us can’t shell out for high-end office furniture, we can improvise. You can hack together a standing setup with a few boxes or books, or even an ironing board.

If you go DIY with your standing desk, just make sure you pay attention to some basic ergonomic guidelines—namely, your screen’s height. Your monitor should be high enough so that you’re looking straight ahead and not looking down or hunching over to see the screen. 

DO find a supportive chair: 

When it comes to WFH life, you need a sound support system—and by that, we mean a good, sturdy office chair. 

An ideal office chair has adjustable options for height and depth, recline, and lumbar support—but we know not everyone has access to such ergonomic luxuries. 

If you don’t have a chair with built-in lumbar support, you can DIY your way to an ergonomically correct seating situation. 

The first step is to pay attention to how you sit. 

Lean back in your chair so that some of your body weight is supported by the chair back.

If your chair lacks good lower-back support, place a cushion or rolled-up towel behind your lower back. (It’s a slightly less effective substitute for an ergonomic chair, but it’s way better than nothing!)

Many office chairs have built-in neck support, which is something you’re less likely to have at home.

To prevent tightness and pain, try incorporating neck exercises throughout the day.  

Here are three easy ones: 

Chin-to-Chest Stretch.

  • Gently look downward, bringing your head close to your chest until you can feel the stretch in the back of your neck.
  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds, then slowly and release.

Side-to-Side Stretch. 

 Keep your head over your shoulders and make sure your back is straight. Gently turn your head to the right until you feel a stretch in the side of your neck and shoulder. Hold for ten to 15 seconds, then repeat the process to the left.

Side-Tilt Stretch. 

  • Very gently tilt your head toward your right shoulder, as if you’re trying to touch it with your ear. Stop when you feel the stretch. You’re trying to stretch the muscles in your neck, so don’t raise your shoulder to meet your head. 
  • Hold the stretch for five to ten seconds, then return to the start position.
  • Repeat on your left side. 

DON’T use a squishy wrist rest.

They may seem like they’re providing support, but ergonomics experts say that these accessories can increase stress on your wrists. 

Putting anything under your wrist while you work can add compression on the finger flexor tendons and on the median nerve, which can actually up your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

DO incorporate movement and stretches into your workday.

Ah, yes. Remember the days when we’d commute to the office? Walk to and from meetings? Take a brisk stroll on our way to pick up lunch, perhaps? Now we’re lucky if we walk to the kitchen a few times a day for a snack. 

It should go without saying, but—even if we’re not in the office, getting off our backsides and moving throughout the day is still important. 

Do small things to keep your body moving throughout the workday. Take phone calls standing up, set an alarm every 30 to 60 seconds to remind you to move, stand up often, take frequent water breaks, and alternate between working standing up and sitting.

Additionally, consider incorporating stretches into your daily routine. 

Jennifer Naughton, a Doctor of Physical Therapy here at ZOOM+Care, has a few recommendations.

First up is a pectoral stretch—a simple exercise that can help make it easier for you to attain and maintain proper posture.

Towel Chest Stretch. 

  • Start by grabbing a towel or a strap. 
  • Stand up straight, paying close attention to your posture. Hold the towel or strap behind your back.
  • Slowly lift the towel behind you, holding the ends with both hands.
  • Use the towel to pull your shoulders into extension. You should feel a stretch in the front of your chest. Squeeze the shoulder blades together to maximize the stretch.
  • Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds, and then relax.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

Another stretch Dr. Naughton recommends for folks working from home is a hip flexor stretch. 

Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch 

  • Start on a soft surface, like a yoga mat or carpet.
  • Next, kneel on your left knee. Place your right foot flat on the floor in front of you with your knee bent.
  • Lean forward, stretching your left hip toward the floor.
  • Squeeze the muscles in your buttocks. This will allow you to stretch your hip flexor even more!
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds. 
  • Switch sides, then repeat. 

DO limit the time spent working on your couch or bed. 

We know they’re super cozy, but the couch and bed are among the worst places to work. 

A sofa might feel comfy initially, but it can lead to pain in your lower back and neck. That’s because sitting on a couch encourages you to slump, round your shoulders, and put your head forward—which puts a lot more strain on your body.

While the couch is not your WFH friend, a bed is even worse. Why?

Unless you sit on the edge of your bed with your feet flat on the floor, you either have to cross your legs or extend them horizontally, using them as support for your laptop. That’s way too low for optimal screen viewing, causing you to slump and hunch over. 

If your bed is your only option, put a pillow behind your back to rest against the headboard, then put your laptop on a cushion in your lap. 

Are you starting to feel the pains of working from home? Our Bodyworks teams have your back. We offer same-day Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, and Medical Message visits. Schedule today.  

Getting Your Flu Shot Is More Important Now Than Ever. Here’s Why.

Schedule your 5-minute flu shot on our phone or mobile app.
Go to zoomcare.com to schedule your 5-minute flu shot today.

During a typical year, many of us are likely to put off, neglect, or outright refuse to get our flu shots. Now, with COVID-19 coursing through the country, Americans are feeling more reluctant than ever to visit crowded pharmacies and doctors’ offices. 

But health officials say that 2020 really isn’t the year to skip your shot—and a big reason is the coronavirus.

While the flu is notoriously unpredictable, influenza activity typically starts to increase in October. With COVID-19 not yet under control, we could be looking at the collision of two potentially deadly viruses this fall. (Or, as some are calling it—a “twindemic.”) 

In the words of CDC Director Robert R. Redfield: “This fall, nothing can be more important than to try to increase the American public’s decision to embrace the flu vaccine with confidence.”

Why are flu shots so crucial this year? 

For starters, flu shots can cut down on the number of trips people take to the doctor. If someone gets sick with the flu and has to go to the hospital or doctor’s office, they run a higher risk of being exposed to someone infected with COVID-19.

“Because influenza and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses, they have similar symptoms,” says ZOOM+Care CMO, Dr. Erik Vanderlip. “Some people may think they have COVID this fall, but really, they have the flu. The flu shot can help prevent unnecessary trips to the doctor, and reduce the severity of the flu, if you do happen to become infected.”

Another reason to get vaccinated is to prevent additional strain on our healthcare system.

It’s usual for hospitals to see a bump in admissions due to influenza. This seasonal rise, combined with coronavirus, could quickly overwhelm our healthcare system. And because flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory viruses, doctors treat them with the same limited medical equipment and supplies, including ventilators.

With healthcare facilities already struggling to accommodate COVID-19 patients, they may not be able to handle the additional influx of flu cases. Getting your flu shot can help ease the burden on the healthcare system and preserve life-saving resources.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the CDC warns of the possibility of co-infection—meaning, having flu and COVID-19 simultaneously. Health experts are still studying how common this occurrence is, but contracting COVID-19 on top of the flu could prove devastating for a patient.

“Getting a flu shot lowers the chances you’ll get influenza—and if you do, it will most likely be a milder infection,” says ZOOM+Care CMO, Dr. Vanderlip. “We have no idea what co-infection with flu and COVID would be like, but a flu vaccine reduces your chances of finding out. Plus, it helps limit the spread of coronavirus by preventing extra trips to the doctor.”

Keep calm and get your flu shot on.

If all of this sounds terrifying, don’t panic! Just get your flu shot, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. If enough of the U.S. population gets vaccinated—hopefully, more than the 45% who did last flu season—we could head off a nightmare scenario in the coming months. 

Even more good news? The pandemic has underscored the importance of handwashing, sanitizing, masking, and social distancing—measures which also curb the spread of flu. So, if the public continues to follow the advice of health experts and gets vaccinated for the flu, we could have the “best flu season” to date, according to Redfield. 

It’s not too early to get a flu shot. 

Although flu season can last into May and beyond, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated sooner rather than later. That’s because it can take two weeks for your body to develop antibodies to protect you against the virus. 

To try and ward off a twindemic as flu season approaches, healthcare providers, ZOOM+Care included, have made the vaccine available earlier than usual this year. 

“Now is the time to get the flu shot, because we don’t know when the flu wave will be coming,”  says Dr. Vanderlip. 

Who should be vaccinated? 

No one is immune to the flu, which is why everyone over the age of six months should consider getting vaccinated. 

This is especially true for people in high-risk categories, like:

  • Young children ages five and under
  • Aldults 65+ 
  • Women who are pregnant, postpartum, or nursing 
  • People with long-term health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease.

Little pinch. Big payoff. For your best shot at a flu-free fall and winter, get vaccinated at any of our neighborhood clinics today

#TogetherWeZoom: Get to know Clinic Associate Janee Meengs.

Janee Meengs is a Clinic Associate at our ZOOM+Super clinic.

ZOOM+Care is filled with whip-smart individuals, willing to roll up their sleeves, dive in, and get their hands dirty to change the future of healthcare. #TogetherWeZoom is our monthly employee spotlight, designed to celebrate these individuals.

For this month’s #TogetherWeZoom, we caught up with Janee Meengs—a Clinic Associate at our ZOOM+Super clinic.

For those who don’t know, ZOOM+Super is our alternative to the Emergency Room. Staffed with board-certified emergency doctors, Super offers more treatment options than urgent care—but it costs less time and money than an ER.

Read on to learn more about the work Janee does at ZOOM+Super, what she loves most about her job, and her advice for prospective candidates.

Hi Janee! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. What inspires you most about your work?

Our patients really inspire my work. It’s inspiring to have a positive effect on someone who isn’t feeling well and being able to turn their day around by simply supporting them and providing excellent care. It makes me strive to be better and do better, knowing that we brought light to them during a tough time.

What advice do you have for prospective ZOOM+Care candidates?

The advice I would give to prospective candidates to ZOOM+Care is to be adaptable and ready to embrace change. The advice I’d give to potential Super candidates is to come ready to learn and open to constructive criticism. I believe that change, adaptation, and embracing constructive criticism are things that we all will encounter in life. Learning them early in a professional setting can enable us to further our careers and professional relationships.

What three words best describe you?

Three words that describe me are quirky, observant, and dedicated. 

What do you like to do on your days off?

On my days off I like to read, sunbathe, and watch Netflix. (Kingdom is my current favorite).

What sets ZOOM+Super apart from a standard ER visit?

Cost, speed, and efficiency set Super apart from the standard ER visit. 

I think those are also the reasons that patients continue to seek care at Super for emergencies.

What would you say are the most common reasons people come into Super?

We commonly see chest and abdominal pain patients, concussions and lots of breaks and sprains!

What do you hear from patients about their experience with Super?

The number one comment I get from patients is about our efficiency, how streamlined our workflow is, and how we are all positive and genuinely care about them—and helping them get better!

What is your favorite feature or service offering that Super provides and why?

My favorite service that Super offers is our lab. Working in the lab has inspired me personally to pursue a career in pathology. Being able to see the biological markers of disease and relating them to specific symptoms or diagnoses is truly incredible. I also love that this service takes approximately 30 minutes, max! Meaning, Sarah can have answers/reasons for their ailment or peace of mind much more quickly than a standard Emergency Room or through their Primary Care Provider.

Do you enjoy helping others on their journey to better health? Are you looking for an entryway into the exciting field of healthcare? We’re currently hiring for Clinic Associates! 

Direct Admit: Another Way ZOOM+Super Helps You Avoid Cost and Hassle of the ER

There are three inevitable truths about going to the Emergency Room:

  1. You’re going to be waiting to see a doctor. And waiting. And waiting. Possibly for a very long time. 
  2. You’re not getting out of there without a hefty bill and a paperwork-induced headache. 
  3. Nine times out of ten, the ER experience is more painful than the injury that sent you there.

Luckily, the Emergency Room isn’t your only option for serious care. Enter ZOOM+Super: ZOOM+Care’s ER alternative. Staffed with board-certified emergency physicians, Super can handle many of the reasons folks go to the Emergency Room: broken bones, x-rays, severe abdominal pain, and much more. 

Compared with a typical Emergency Room, ZOOM+Super is affordable, fast, and stress-free. In most cases, patients can get in and out in 60 minutes or less. (Stack that against the 2 hours and 16 minutes it takes for a typical ER visit.) Even better? The average cost of a Super visit is $599—a whole lot less than the $2,096 they can expect to pay elsewhere.

While ZOOM+Super can treat 80% of the reasons that adults and kids go to the ER, sometimes, patients do need to go to the hospital—typically for procedures like appendectomies. When that happens, we can help them avoid the high cost and hassle of the ER by arranging a direct admission to the facility of their choice.

Our direct admit program helps patients bypass the hospital Emergency Room altogether, and can make a painful situation a lot less stressful.

To highlight this unique benefit of ZOOM+Super, we had a socially-distanced sitdown with Dr. Daniel Tseng, a leading Portland surgeon who frequently operates on Super patients at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center.

Dr. Daniel Tseng

1. HI, DR. TSENG. THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO SPEAK WITH US. COULD YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR MEDICAL PRACTICE? 

I completed my training at OHSU in 2006. I did a two-year fellowship in minimally invasive surgery. I’ve been in practice for 14 years. My specialty group practice is called Northwest Minimally Invasive Surgery, and we are affiliated with Legacy Good Sam and Providence St. Vincent. Our objective is to serve our local community by providing minimally invasive surgery to patients in the Portland area.

2. THAT’S INTERESTING. WHAT IS MINIMALLY INVASIVE SURGERY? WHAT’S THE BENEFIT TO PATIENTS?

It’s when you do traditional general surgery through a very small incision. I can do 95% of surgeries through incisions that are less than ½ inch in size. There are several incisions that I use; a lot are done through the belly button. The main benefits to minimally invasive surgery are less pain associated with the smaller incision, very small scars, a shorter hospitalization, less risk for infection, and a faster recovery and return to work. It’s done often as an outpatient surgery, meaning you don’t have to spend the night in the hospital.

3. HOW OFTEN DO YOU SEE SUPER PATIENTS AND WHAT FOR?

Gallbladders and appendixes are the two most common surgeries we do for Super patients. We’re also seeing more hernias, which could be work related or due to heavy activity and lifting. I see about one or two Super patients per week. I share a call schedule with my partner, Dr. Jeff Watkins, and some other general surgeons at Legacy Good Sam, and so whoever is “on call” will see the patients referred from Super.

4. HOW DOES IT WORK WHEN SUPER SENDS A PATIENT TO YOU FOR SURGERY?

The patient is seen by the Super provider, who takes the patient’s history, does a physical exam, and orders any lab tests or imaging (ultrasound or CT are commonly done to diagnose appendicitis). Once the diagnosis is confirmed, then the Super provider either calls our office or sends us the patient through the Legacy transfer center. We try to do the surgery as an outpatient procedure and send the patient home on the same day. Depending on the time of the day and the operating room schedule at Legacy Good Sam, it can take as little as one hour or up to half a day. The last patient that Super sent me – I took the patient into the OR within an hour.

5. WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT SUPER’S CARE MODEL? HOW DOES IT HELP PATIENTS?

There’s a convenience factor. It’s more convenient for these patients to be seen at ZOOM+Care. They can be seen the same day vs. having to wait weeks to see their primary care doctor. From my perspective being able to skip the Emergency Room is the biggest benefit of Super. Having all the patient’s labs and imaging already completed is really helpful as the accepting surgeon.

6. THANKS, DR. TSENG. WE’RE GRATEFUL TO PARTNER WITH GREAT DOCTORS LIKE YOU. 

You’re welcome!

We hope you never need ZOOM+Super, we’re here for you if you do. A visit is just a few clicks away, always

Your Biggest COVID-19 Antibody Testing Questions, Answered

“Did I really have COVID-19?”

The answer to that particular question may lie in antibody testing. However, it’s important to understand that these tests don’t hold all the answers. 

Antibody tests detect the presence of coronavirus antibodies. If you’re following the news, you may have heard them touted as an indicator of immunity—and a vital tool for reopening the US economy. Unfortunately, the science around both these claims is still murky.  

Larger questions, including whether antibodies confer immunity, will take longer to answer. We have high hopes that positive antibodies will protect folks from future infections, but—until we have all the facts—we won’t know their full value.

So, what’s ZOOM+Care’s stance on antibody testing?

We want to be completely transparent: At this time, we don’t know if a positive antibody test confers immunity to COVID-19. However, ZOOM+Care still believes the tests are important and valuable. To help you understand the benefits and limitations of antibody testing, we’re answering your biggest questions below: 

First off, what are antibodies? 

Antibodies are specialized proteins created by the immune system.

When a foreign invader such as COVID-19 infiltrates the body, the immune system mounts a general attack to combat the virus. But eventually, the body creates an individualized attack by sending out large, Y-shaped proteins, called antibodies. Antibodies “recognize” viruses, bacteria, and infected cells, and target them precisely. 

Antibody tests detect these molecules.

What is a coronavirus antibody test?

The coronavirus antibody test is a blood-draw test. It looks to detect lgG antibodies developed by the body to fight COVID-19. At ZOOM+Care, we use an FDA EUA (Emergency Use Act) antibody test, processed through LabCorp.

What does a positive antibody test mean?

While not perfect, a positive antibody test represents a high probability that you were exposed to COVID-19—even if you never showed symptoms of the virus. 

What about a negative test result? 

A negative test can mean a couple of things, actually. 

Firstly, it can mean you were never exposed to COVID-19. It can also mean you were exposed, but your body did not produce enough antibodies to be detected. Finally, a negative test could mean your body needs more time to produce antibodies after exposure to the virus. 

Can an antibody test detect an active coronavirus infection?

Nope! An antibody test is not meant to detect an active COVID-19 infection.

If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, you may be eligible for COVID-19 testing at ZOOM+Care. 

If I have antibodies, I’m immune, right?

Not necessarily. The presence of antibodies only indicates that someone has had COVID-19, but it does not guarantee that a person is immune. That’s because we don’t know how immunity to the virus works yet. At this time, we have no clear idea of what the presence of antibodies means for long-lasting—or even short-term—immunity.

While it’s simply too early to know if a positive antibody test confers immunity to COVID-19, there is hope: Most infectious disease experts think it’s likely COVID-19 does induce some degree of resistance. 

So, what are the benefits of antibody testing?

Even if they can’t determine immunity at this time, antibody tests are still useful. They can provide you with peace of mind by helping you understand if you’ve been exposed to the virus. 

After testing positive for antibodies, you can even donate your plasma to studies looking for treatments. 

Secondly, antibody tests may be a potentially valuable tool for public-health officials. They can help researchers understand how the virus spreads, how deadly the virus is, and how many people have come into contact with it. 

How do I qualify for antibody testing?

Our doctors can determine if you are eligible for antibody testing. However, in order to receive testing, you must be symptom-free for at least ten days.

What type of antibody test does ZOOM+Care use? Is it accurate? 

At ZOOM+Care, we use an FDA EUA (Emergency Use Act) antibody test, processed through LabCorp.

LabCorp’s platform detects IgG antibodies to the COVID-19 virus. They use Abbott Architect as the primary testing platform to detect IgG antibodies to the COVID-19 virus.

This particular test is very accurate. Current EUA approval requires all antibody tests to accurately identify at least 90% of positive cases and 95% of negative cases.

To learn more about the type of antibody test we use at ZOOM+Care, check out our COVID-19 antibody testing FAQs.

How do I get tested at ZOOM+Care?

First, you must speak with a ZOOM+Care provider, either virtually through VideoCare™ or by scheduling an in-person or phone visit at a Zoom clinic near you. They will ask you questions, then order the test for you, depending on your past symptoms. Results are usually available within one to three days.

Schedule AN AnTIBODY TEST Now

3 Ways to Get Frictionless Healthcare during COVID-19

VideoCare is virtual healthcare from ZOOM+Care

As the coronavirus outbreak unfolds, our commitment to providing high-quality care has never been greater. The CDC recommends using virtual healthcare to avoid exposure and help curb the spread of COVID-19. For the time being, we’re asking our patients to start their care by connecting with a provider through one of our virtual telehealth options.

For 14 years, ZOOM+Care has challenged the status quo of healthcare by offering radically convenient access to primary, urgent, and specialty services. We’ve given our patients care where they want it (in their neighborhoods) and when they want it (same day, on demand). Now, with the expansion of our telemedicine services, we have more choices for how you want to receive your healthcare: in-clinic, or virtually through ChatCare™, PhoneCare™, or the newly-launched VideoCare™.

We know navigating the world of virtual care can be overwhelming at first, but don’t worry—no matter how you choose to see a doctor at ZOOM+Care, the experience is always an easy one. Keep reading to discover three ways to get frictionless healthcare through Zoom:

#1: ChatCare 

Feeling not-quite-right, but not sure what’s ailing you? ChatCare™ is the perfect place to start. For just $25, our providers can diagnose and treat dozens of common injuries and illnesses online.

While ChatCare™ can’t handle everything (Real talk: it’s really hard to get stitches through text message), our docs can address issues like allergies, sinus infections, asthma, colds, coughs, fatigue, fever, UTIs, and more. For concerns with visible symptoms, you can even send photos to our providers. 

Chat Now 

New to ZOOM+Care, or needing more comprehensive treatment? ChatCare™ might not be the best option for you. Which brings us to…

#2: VideoCare ™ 

Nothing can replace seeing a doctor face to face, but what happens when you’re sheltering in place? Enter VideoCare™: an easy, affordable way to have a visual conversation with a doctor—without leaving your house. 

Similarly to ChatCare™, VideoCare™ lets you have a real-time convo with a provider who can discuss, diagnose, and even prescribe medications for your health concerns. 

Now you might be asking, “Why VideoCare™? Can’t I just use Chat?”

Compared to ChatCare™, Video offers a much more comprehensive experience—it allows our doctor to examine both the visible and auditory signs of your health concern. Due to its more personal nature, VideoCare™ is the perfect choice for first-time patients and those seeking treatment for chronic ailments and preventative care, and even specialty concerns.

Wait, I can see a specialist through VideoCare™?

That’s right! You don’t have to put your speciality care on hold for COVID-19. Thanks to VideoCare™, you can visit with a ZOOM+Care specialist face to face—virtually.

Currently, we offer video visits for Dermatology, Gynecology, Orthopedics, Podiatry, Internal Medicine, and Mental Health.

What about meds?

We can prescribe (and even ship!) medications to you through Video, as needed.

Even if it’s outside of regular business hours, our VideoCare ™ doctors can help. We have providers available from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. on weekends.

Most insurances cover video visits the same as a visit to a clinic, so standard copays and deductibles apply. If you’re uninsured, VideoCare™ starts at just $75!

Start Your Video Visit 

Virtually Seamless Virtual Care

While virtual care can’t replace physical exams and necessary testing, our telehealth options offer unparalleled continuity. If you start a VideoCare™ visit and still need to see a doctor in person, we’ll make sure you have a seamless transition. We’ll schedule your appointment at a nearby ZOOM+Care, and won’t charge you for the extra visit. Your in-person appointment will pick up exactly where the virtual one left off. 

It’s safe and secure, too. 

We value your privacy above all else. VideoCare™ visits are sercure, private interactions between you and your ZOOM+Care provider. They take place through HIPAA-compliant video and do not capture any personal or identifiable data.

#3: A PhoneCare™ & in-person visit

Due to COVID-19, we’re seeing most of our patients virtually. However, we’re still here to deliver care the old-fashioned way: face to face, in the flesh, with a smile. (Even if you can’t see the smile under our masks—it’s there. We promise.)

If you think you need to see a doctor in person, start with a PhoneCare visit. Your cooperation helps us control patient volume at our clinics and prepare protective equipment to keep you safe.

Over the phone, your doctor will discuss your symptoms and determine if you need to come into a clinic. If so, we’ll book you at a nearby ZOOM+Care and waive the cost of your phone appointment. 

And even though times are weird, your in-office visit will be the same waitless experience you’ve come to expect—no sitting in the lobby, no lines, and no extra trips to the pharmacy.

WE KNOW THINGS AREN’T NORMAL RIGHT NOW, BUT WE’RE STILL HERE DOING WHAT WE NORMALLY DO: PROVIDING YOU WITH BETTER CARE, FASTER. (WHETHER IT’S THROUGH VIDEO, CHAT, PHONE, OR AT OUR CLINICS.) GET CARE NOW. 

#TogetherWeZoom: Join Us in Celebrating Our Frontline Heroes

ZOOM+Care Covid-19 frontline
Danielle Almony works the front line at our clinic in Ballard, WA.

Right now, the world is at war. But the enemy is a virus, not a country—and our heroes are not enlisted persons. Instead, they are soldiers of another kind: doctors, nurses, pharmacists, clinic associates, caregivers, grocery store clerks, small business owners, and city workers. Every day, they sacrifice their health for the health of our community; they endure long hours in personal protective equipment to give us the services we still so desperately need.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, we would like to honor ZOOM+Care’s front line. To highlight the important work our providers and clinic associates do—and to learn more about the extraordinary challenges they’re currently facing—we’re dedicating our next few #TogetherWeZoom posts to them.

First up, we spoke to Danielle Almony: a PA-C at our Ballard clinic in Seattle. Read on to learn about how she’s coping with COVID-19 stress and anxiety, what her favorite quarantine pastime is, and her advice for how to support medical workers during this time.

Hi Danielle! Thank you so much for chatting with us today. So, first off, given the moment, how are you feeling?

As most people are saying, it’s a weird time. At times, I feel like I’ve got everything in control, but other times I look around and think, “Wow, what is going on right now.

What challenges do you and the ZOOM+Care staff face on a daily basis? 

I think one of the biggest challenges we are facing is not being able to have a warm interaction with our patients anymore. I miss the handshake and the ability to share a smile since we now have to wear masks throughout the day. I feel like the personal connection with learning about our patients, such as what they like to do, how their day is going, has gone by the wayside a bit. It’s been hard to practice medicine as I had prior to this pandemic. I feel that people aren’t always quite as open in these times. 

What was a normal day for you before coronavirus? What are your days like now?

Before coronavirus, I used to love grabbing a coffee and going for a walk around Greenlake after dropping my oldest daughter off at preschool. I also loved browsing the library for fun books and going to the zoo. These activities have been halted, but now I make coffee at home and go for a walk in my neighborhood, trying to maintain social distancing by crossing the street. We are looking for books virtually now, and while we have lost turning pages, we have been able to find some books that are interactive. And, we’ve rediscovered our backyard and the joy of make-believe. 

What precautions do frontline workers have to take when clocking off and going home? 

I live with my partner and two daughters, and prior to the pandemic, I would love to open the front door and to get big hugs from them. However, I now go in through my garage and take a shower prior to seeing them. I also have been cognizant of checking my temperature daily and being aware of the smallest things, which prior to the pandemic, I would have brushed them off. 

Can you describe the mood amongst the ZOOM+Care staff?

 I think, overall, we are optimistic that things are moving the right direction. I feel that we have adapted with the addition of Phone and VideoCare ™ visits. Implementing these visits has allowed us to interact with people again in a safe and controlled way, and has lifted a bit of the anxiety off our shoulders regarding PPE counts and exposure as frontline workers. I also feel that Chat and VideoCare™ are the future of medicine, as it puts the patient in control of when and how they want to be seen. The fact that it was rolled out so quickly was extraordinary, and really opened ZOOM+Care up to a new world of medicine. 

How is the Zoom staff dealing with the potential shortage of Personal protective equipment? 

Thankfully, ZOOM+Care has been able to maintain our PPE, but at times looking at our dwindling numbers, it gets to be a bit concerning. We are making sure to practice social distancing, and thanks to telehealth, have been able to preserve our PPE for those patients who really need in-person visits. 

What’s your favorite activity or practice to keep the COVID blues at bay? 

I have always loved cooking and am trying to jump on the baking bread train. I’ve learned that I will probably never open a bakery…

What are you doing to cope with stress and anxiety right now? 

My partner and I have rediscovered a love of doing puzzles. It really allows us to disconnect from the ever-present social media and news and just focus on one piece at a time. 

Any advice on how to support medical workers during this time?

I think one of the biggest things to do is to continue social distancing and to stay home because that keeps everyone healthy and can hopefully slow the transmission of this virus. Also, realizing that we are here if we are needed—and will continue to be here when the pandemic slows. I want to tell patients that they shouldn’t hesitate to schedule a visit. 

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when all of this is over? 

Go back to the farmer’s market and meet my friend’s new baby!

If you could tell the general public one thing right now, what would it be? 

That it is ok to be not ok, and at some point or another, we are all feeling that way. The vast majority of us have never lived through a pandemic before, and so we are all taking it one step at a time.  

ZOOM+Care is doing a lot to fight COVID-19 in our community. What’s been your proudest moment on the job since the pandemic hit? 

ZOOM+Care has been amazing in the way it has supported both the staff and the patients. Having a daily check-in with leadership has given us insight into our ever-evolving approach to fighting this virus. Also, the fact that leadership has been available and open to answering any and all questions makes me feel supported and like they have my best interest at heart. Being able to partner with a laboratory to test an at-home kit for COVID-19 diagnosis shows how forward-thinking we are as a company, and I am proud to be a part of that. 

Danielle said it best—times are weird. We know things aren’t normal right now, but we’re still here doing what we normally do: providing you with better care, faster. (Whether it’s through video, chat, phone, or at our clinics.) Get care now. 

Hey Zoom: I Feel so Helpless during the COVID-19 Pandemic. What Can I Do to Help?

ZOOM+Care Covid 19 anxiety

Great question.

COVID-19 has ushered in an era of uncertainty—uncertainty about the future, yes, but also about how to help each other during these unprecedented times.

Hands down, the best way to help is by practicing social distancing.

But as we all shelter in place, many of us are wondering, “What else can I do? How can I support frontline workers? Should I sign petitions? Organize a fundraiser to purchase personal protective gear for local hospitals?”

Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Erik Vanderlip, weighs in with some answers:

Be emotionally available.

“There are several things you can do to help others right now, beyond social distancing,” says Dr. Vanderlip.

“First and foremost, take care of yourself and those close to you. We need to be extra sensitive to the emotional needs of our loved ones during this time—especially older relatives, and vulnerable people in your community. Talk to your parents, call extended family members, and frequently check in on friends who are self-isolating at home. “

LIMIT UNNECESSARY TRIPS.

Vanderlip also suggests doing everything you can to avoid unnecessary trips.

“We’re still seeing a lot of people on the streets, packing into grocery stores, and even flocking to the coast for weekend getaways. We should only be leaving our homes for essential activities.”

When it comes to grocery stores, Vanderlip says, “While you shouldn’t stockpile groceries, having some necessities on hand in your home—if you’re in a financial position to buy them—is something that can help you and others. That way, you won’t have to take frequent trips to the grocery store.”

THINK LOCAL.

“When thinking of ways to help, many people overlook their immediate circle of influence—their friends, family, and neighbors,” Vanderlip reflects.

“Everyone is super focused on raising money for masks and personal protective equipment—but there are probably people in your building or on your street that could use help. Do you have an elderly neighbor, for example? See if you can pick up cleaning supplies, groceries, and other other necessities for them. Help keep them safe by wearing gloves and leaving their packages outside the door.”

CITE YOUR SOURCES.

“Finally, don’t contribute to the spread of rumors or misinformation,” says Dr. Vanderlip.

“Conspiracy theories catch faster than COVID-19, but truth takes longer to spread. Before you share the salacious rumor you heard, check your sources and pause. Fear and misinformation lead to panic, chaos, and poor decision-making. During this time, it’s essential to focus on what we each can control and what we can’t.”

Right now, social distancing is the most effective measure for containing the spread of the coronavirus. Check out our answers to your most burning social distancing questions.