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Covid Blog- Herd Immunity Orange County

By editor
April 19, 2021

A farmhand was helping the farmer with his herd of cows. The farmer asks, "How many cows are in my herd?"

“49,” says the farmhand.
"Ok then; round them up!"
"Ok,fine! You have 50," says the farmhand.
 
Now that I have you trying to figure this out, I will do something totally out of character for me. 
 
I will make a prediction. About Covid. 
 
This is risky because all the predictions about Covid by experts, epidemiologists, the CDC, WHO, and even the Geico Lizard have proven wrong.
 
For example: 
-It wasn't like the flu. 
-It didn't end in warm weather. 
-It didn't burn itself out after a year. 
-It didn't only kill frail seniors and diabetics.
-And the vaccine was not at all a piece of cake.

 
So here is the senior cynical doctor’s prophecy:

We will reach herd immunity this year. In 2021.
 
As a matter of fact, I see it by Halloween. Maybe even Labor Day.
 
When I say herd immunity, I mean enough people will become immune to Covid, rendering its spread unlikely. As a result, the entire community will be protected, even those who are not themselves immune.
 
A disclaimer, I am not the only forecaster to make this projection. But I do firmly believe it.
 
In January, as I was couch bound recovering from Covid, I spent time with my iPad aimlessly surfing. I started doing the math, and as the data is now more solid, the facts speak for themselves.
 
It seems the government experts are trying hard to downplay this scenario. It makes sense-they don't want us complacent. Ripping our masks off. Filling up restaurants. Just in case we NEVER reach herd immunity. 
 
Remember, these are the same people that said antibodies will not protect us.
And no test of cure is needed.
And only get tested if you have symptoms.
And that we need to close our schools,,.no I mean open the schools,,.no close...no....you get the idea. 
 
Now I have an alternate theory. 
First, I would like to pay homage to Monty Python and the genius of John Cleese. If you haven't seen it, please You Tube the “Pythons Ann Elk” skit on the theory on Brontosauruses.
 
Here is my theory  
AHEMMMM!
 
My theory--which belongs to me--is as follows...
 
This is how it goes--
 
The next thing I will type is my theory...
 
Ready???
 
My Theory by Dr Gregg DeNicola will begin now...
AHEMMMM!
 
We will reach herd immunity via natural antibodies against Covid, with additional antibody protection from vaccine programs.
 
That is my theory, which is mine, and belongs to me, and I own it. 
 
For any viral disease, immunity is afforded by antibodies. 
There are only two ways to get these gems in your system. You can make your own, however that would require you to actually contract Covid.
 
The antibodies are also obtained via a vaccine. 
Which are better? I refer you to hours of research on the WWW where you will find no clear answer. 
 
"Natural" antibodies appear to keep you Covid free 99% of the time you have them. 
Vaccine antibodies also appear to be working at a 99% clip. 
 
So, as your bartender says---"Pick your poison."
 
Although if you have had Covid, odds are you are protected- we just do not know how long the protection lasts. We've seen it last a month. We have seen it last 11 months. 

With the vaccine the CDC is hoping for a year efficacy but we don't have the data to support that. A yearly booster is likely.
 
So let’s do some math to validate my theory.
 
To achieve Covid herd immunity as defined earlier, the numbers vary from 50-80% by epidemiologists. Because of potency, penetrance, geographic spread, and different strains, each virus has a different percent.
 
Measles needs 90% herd immunity. Polio only 80%. 
 
Remember herd immunity does not eradicate the virus from the face of the earth. That has only happened once in history. The wonderful Dr. Edward Jenner and his Smallpox vaccine destroyed the Smallpox virus, with the last known case reported in 1977.
 
Since we do not know the exact percentage for Covid yet, let’s pick a reasonable 75%. 
 
In 2020 the US population was 331 million. Let’s say the 2021 US population will be 333 million.
 
That includes infants and children, who notoriously do not have antibodies, so this will require a higher number of adults to have antibodies.
 
333 million Americans, times 75%, means we need 250 million of us with antibodies at one time to achieve the Holy Grail of herd immunity.   
 
On April 1, we had 56 million Americans vaccinated.  
 
The CDC reports in the US, we average 3.1 million new vaccines a day (not the second shot). So by May 1, we should be at 150 million Americans vaccinated. 
 
Now let’s say for various reasons, we do not hit 150 million until July 4th. We also have to count the number of post-Covid patients with antibodies.
 
Sloan Kettering did a study on "seroprevalence" to estimate that in March we had up to 120 million Americans immune due to post-Covid antibodies. 
 
December 2020 had over 20 million documented Covid cases in the US. We are averaging 70,000 new cases a day currently. That means between April 1 and May 1 alone we will have around an additional two million Americans antibody protected. (Yes, nearly all Covid cases make antibodies.)
 
The wild card here is that these numbers are only for swab POSITIVE cases. Experts estimate that there are at least three additional cases never tested or reported for every swab positive patient.
 
You get it. The Mrs. has symptoms, gets PCR tested positive. The Mr. also has symptoms and says “no need for testing, I know I have it. I’ll just hunker down until I feel better.” Then their 2 kids with fevers refuse that "brain biopsy" swab. Four cases but only one positive swab.
 
The "untested" immune help offset the fact that of the 150 million vaccinated Americans we will get to by the summer will include a fair number of people who ALREADY have antibodies from a prior Covid infection.
 
So the math says of the 150 million people that will soon be vaccinated, perhaps only 66% had no antibodies. 
 
That makes 100 million protected from getting the vaccine.
 
NOW add the 120 million people the experts say are protected from natural antibodies post-Covid 
 
Add 30 million people who are protected but don't know it because they haven't (or won’t) be tested.
 
VOILA! 250 million protected Americans, the number for herd immunity. 
 
This doesn't even count continuing at three million vaccines a day, and the 70,000 new cases that are still occurring across the country getting natural antibodies.  I postulate herd immunity by Halloween is not only possible, but probable.
 
An example is the DeNicola Thanksgiving dinner in 2020. There were nine at the table. All tested PCR and antibody negative days before.  All nine were negative.
 
Today, just four months later, six of the nine have had Covid and have antibodies. Six of the nine also have had the vaccine. All nine are currently protected, either by natural or vaccine antibodies. This is happening all over the country.
 
The more people that contract Covid, the more protection we achieve.
The more people that get the vaccine, the more protection we achieve. 
 
Want to hear a joke about immunity?
Never mind, you've already “herd it.”
 
What herd immunity should mean is no more masks. Eating at a restaurant that has tables three feet apart. Salad bars back. Stadiums and concert halls full again.
 
We will know there is herd immunity when the 14 day rolling average of new cases and deaths take a sharp drop to below what a typical flu season has.
 
Yet, I suspect public health experts will still want masks and distancing practiced long after herd immunity has kicked in. Immunity is invisible, and our paranoia over any possible Covid spread will make returning to normalcy difficult. 
 
Yet my math says that we are far closer to herd immunity than the public health officials want to acknowledge. 
 
Yes, new mutations and strains may not respect the vaccines or antibodies.
Yes, some vaccines may wear off in three months without our knowledge.
Yes, natural antibodies may disappear in two months, leaving the post-Covid patient unprotected.
 
Yet despite those concerns, there will still be a steady flow of both natural antibodies and vaccines offsetting them. 
 
And we will reach herd immunity by Halloween.
 
That is my theory. Which is mine and belongs to me.
 
Gregg DeNicola MD
Chief Medical Officer
Caduceus Medical Group, PDQ Urgent Care & More, PDQ Telehealth


TMS Services Now Available

By editor
April 16, 2021
Headshot of male psychiatrist wearing glasses

We are pleased to announce Caduceus has partnered with Advanced TMS and Dr. Kevin Kinback to offer on-site TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) at our Irvine office, Caduceus Jamboree. 

Dr. Kinback is a board-certified psychiatrist and graduated from Loma Linda University Medical School in 1992. He did psychiatry training at Loma Linda, was Chief Resident, and remains on the faculty as Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Kinback specializes in adult treatment-resistant depression and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, commonly referred to as TMS.

Advanced TMS in Orange County was founded in 2009. Dr. Kinback began private practice in 1995, with a keen interest in cutting-edge medicine. As one of the very first TMS experts in all of Southern California, Dr. Kinback has treated hundreds of patients with TMS therapy since 2009. He is certified on three different TMS devices and is a leader in the Clinical TMS Society.

If you suffer from depression or OCD, you may sometimes feel that you have hit a dead end when medications and talk therapy do not help. TMS therapy for depression and OCD works by stimulating a part of the brain that is involved in moods and emotions. This is not electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and does not cause memory loss or harmful side effects.

 

Call us today to reserve your appointment, 714-646-8034. 


Dinner with the Docs resumes in-person events

By editor
April 15, 2021

We are back!  Caduceus is thrilled to announce the return of our popular "Dinner with the Docs" series. All events will now resume in-person at TLC (The Life Center 18210 Yorba Linda Blvd. Ste 404) in Yorba Linda. 

Chief Medical Officer Gregg DeNicola MD and PDQ Operations Officer Mary DeNicola DNP will lead the discussion in a three part series:
 

  • Covid #1- Covid 101- Tuesday, May 18th 6pm
  • Covid #2- Covid Treatment -Tuesday, June 1st 6pm
  • Covid #3- Covid Prevention -Tuesday, June 15th 6pm

Here are some details for the event series:

In order to attend, at least ONE of the following below is required:

  • Must show proof of Covid vaccine for at least one of two manufacturer doses or proof of the one dose J&J vaccine. 
  • Show positive Covid antibody result within the last ten days prior to each event date.
  • If no proof emailed prior or brought the evening of the event, you can gain entry by arriving at 5pm for testing.
    • If you had a previous Covid diagnosis, we will offer a special event cash price combo for the rapid antigen and antibody test of $99.  (Reg. $141) As long as the result shows a negative antigen and/or or positive antibody, you will be allowed entry for the event.

Masks and social distancing guidelines will be observed.  This will be a complimentary ticketed event and we will be unable to take walk-ins as seating is limited. Individually packed meals will be distributed upon entry in lieu of a buffet.  

You will receive a special gift if you attend the entire series.  If you are a not an existing patient and/or bring a guest that establishes care with one of our physicians after the event with one of our schedulers, you ALSO will receive a special gift!

 the events team if you would like to RSVP.  Please specify total number in your party, the names of each guest, as well as which talks you wish to attend by including #1, #2, and/or #3.  A member of our event team will contact you to review the required proof needed to confirm your reservation.
 


March 2021 Newsletter

By editor
March 25, 2021
Caduceus Specialty Welcomes GI Physician Dr. Essam Quraishi. Dr. Quraishi joins our gastroenterology medical team and will begin seeing patients in Yorba Linda April 15th.  Learn more about Dr. Quraishi and request an appointment either in-office or a telehealth video visit from your phone.  
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month! Regular screenings, beginning at age 50, are the key to preventing colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum).

If you’re 50 to 75 years old, an exam is recommended every 10 years and it is acceptable to stop at age 75. If you’re younger than 50 and think you may be at high risk of getting colorectal cancer, or if you’re older than 75, ask your doctor if you should be screened.

Our GI physicians can conduct the initial screening either in-office or a telehealth video consult from the comfort of your office or home.

Request an appointment.
With three locations in Yorba Linda, Anaheim, and Irvine, access to women's health services in our community continues to expand. 

Caduceus for Women at our Jamboree location in Irvine will be moving next door to its own dedicated suite, and primary care, urgent care, and specialty services will remain under one roof for the convenience of our patients. 

View the provider bios for our Caduceus for Women team.

Our primary care physician Carlos Sobral MD and advanced care practitioner Christina Turner will now be available on Saturdays at our Irvine office, Caduceus Jamboree, starting April 3rd 9-3 for both in-office or telehealth appointments and urgent care services.  Walk-ins are always welcome! 


On-site Covid Testing for Your Business, School or Organization in Orange County

By editor
March 16, 2021


For the first time since last November, Orange County is back in the less restrictive red tier of the state’s COVID-19 monitoring system and we are happy to announce at Caduceus, we have ALSO resumed taking on new clients! 

The shift means many local businesses and activities in Orange County can resume operations or expand their capacity, impacting gyms, restaurants and movie theaters. It also means middle and high schools that didn’t open previously can begin to offer on-site instruction and sports with modifications. It is now more important than ever for businesses, schools, and other organizations to schedule Covid diagnostic and/or antibody testing for your employees/students.

Our corporate wellness mobile testing team is available to come to your business or school Tuesdays and Thursdays for on-site testing. 

We also offer a Covid-19 continuity program to re-test/screen employee/student health status, including ongoing access to telehealth video visits to help maintain staffing and productivity levels.

Learn more and review our corporate Covid-19 testing options and pricing packages.

If preferred you can refer your employees or students to one of our testing sites. Currently we offer testing at our Yorba Linda, Orange, Irvine, and Laguna Beach locations. 

If you are interested in more information about our corporate Covid-19 testing programs or would like to arrange testing for your employees, email or call 714-646-8058.  


Covid Blog 2021 Physicals Orange County

By editor
March 16, 2021

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan, this is for all you Pirates of Penzance fans who have had to deal with the pandemic over the last year.
 
Pirates of Pandemic Patter
(to be sung at a rapid tempo)
 
After all the quarantine it’s time to move around, even dance
Ask Gilbert and Sullivan; sing along to Pirates of Penzance
 
You are the very model of a novel coronavirus
You ruin health, economy, and holidays are quite the fuss
 
Sneaky how you incubate, 2 weeks ‘til you rear your ugly head
Some folks don’t even know they’re sick while others can’t get out of bed
 
You mimic every symptom out there, what a tangled web you weave
So many “experts,” self-appointed, hard to know whom to believe
 
CDC just cracks us up, thinks it knows exactly when you’ll leave
You come and go without reservation, offering no reprieve
 
 
Time to take a break from the patter
Let’s talk important next steps that really do matter.
 
Whether you’ve had COVID or not, you’ll need a checkup in 2021.
 
It will be different than any physical you’ve ever had before.
 
In fact, at Caduceus there are three categories of checkups for 2021. As we introduce HUEY, DEWEY and LOUIE, see to which one you relate.  Call us quacks if you like, however Caduceus may be the only medical group with COVID specific checkups for 2021!!!
 
 
HUEY-
 
HUEY has not had COVID.  He mostly stayed home, wasn’t able to exercise, packed on the COVID 19 pounds, may have consumed more than his usual amount of cheeseburgers and does recall daily happy hour.  Diabetes runs in his family however he’s sure he’s fine.  HUEY schedules his annual checkup which includes:

  • Lab work to check on diabetes, high cholesterol, fatty liver and more
  • If female, mammogram and Pap, depending on date of last test
  • COVID antibody testing.  Huey may have been an asymptomatic case and already have protection.  Or Huey many have gotten the vaccine(s) and have antibodies

If over 50, HUEY meets criteria for:

  • Colon cancer screening
  • PSA if male
  • Bone density testing
  • Shingles vaccine

If over 65, HUEY meets criteria for pneumonia vaccine.
 
HUEY is still nervous to go out in public, so the good news is HUEY DOESN’T HAVE TO COME INTO THE OFFICE.  We can start the 2021 checkup from the comfort of your home or office.
 

  • Curbside lab draws
  • Video Visits to review the tests
  • We’ll go from there – some things will require an office visit as we haven’t figured out how to biopsy a mole, pierce an ear, or do a Pap remotely.

 
 
Can’t resist the urge to rhyme
Let’s indulge the patter one more time
 
Virus analogy is a dragon, with a very long tail
Ignore bedrest and do too much, the symptoms come back without fail
 
Docs try and try, I don’t know why, as we all know there is no cure
Despite Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, you endure
 
Z-Pak, zinc, lots of vitamins, then Decadron and Tylenol
Trying any and everything, like throwing pasta at the wall
 
Has convalescent plasma become the ultimate gift to give?
Will sharing antibodies be the thing that helps others to live?
 
Prone position, oxygen, Remdesivir flowing through the vein
As soon as something starts to work it transforms into a new strain
 
 
DEWEY-
 
DEWEY did have COVID last year, not a bad case.  DEWEY took a Z-Pak, some cough medicine, and had an inhaler, just in case.  He feels pretty lucky to have been out of commission only a short time.  He’s pretty sure he’s back to 100%.
 
In addition to EVERYTHING COVERED in HUEY’s physical, DEWEY’s checkup will include some additional post COVID labs.  Studies show that even people with asymptomatic or mild cases may have post-COVID Syndrome, affecting their organs.  Labs may include:
         

  • Tests double checking your heart, lung, kidney, and liver function
  • Additional labs looking for post-COVID inflammation
  • Antibody testing monthly

 
 
OK, it’s time
A little more rhyme…
 
IgM and IgG – antibodies are talk of the town
Everybody wants a bunch, to last and last and never go down
 
Pandemic rocked our world so hard and now the aftershocks we feel
Enter Moderna, Pfizer, J& J – is vaccine the real deal?
 
You are the very model of a novel coronavirus
You ruin health, economy, and holidays are quite the fuss
 
Learning more each day; using science and common sense best we can
Let’s hope virus this mutates out, and leaves as fast as it began!
 
 
LOUIE has survived the monster virus, had a severe case, may or may not have been to the hospital and may or may not be feeling back to 100%.  LOUIE may still be experiencing fatigue, occasionally still needs inhalers, sometimes can’t sleep, and his head feels a little foggy.  Oh, and LOUIE’s gut is still bothersome.  LOUIE is not alone.  We are shocked at the number of patients who still have lingering post Covid symptoms.  Post-Acute Sequelae of Sars-CoV-2 infection (PASC) is a thing.  Worldwide, reported incidence ranges from 10-30%.  LOUIE has won the war, however the battleground may have sustained some damage and needs time to repair.  LOUIE’s annual checkup will include everything that HUEY’s and DEWEY’s did, and can also start from the comfort of home or office. We may run a few additional tests or labs to specifically check on LOUIE’s heart, lungs, kidneys and brain depending on the severity of LOUIE’s post Covid symptoms.  Tests may include:
 

  • EKG
  • Echocardiogram
  • Pulmonary Function Studies
  • Pulmonary Rehab
  • Antibody testing monthly
     
    So, for 2021, are you HUEY, DEWEY or LOUIE?
     
    We recommend antibody testing regularly for everyone and will offer monthly antibody options for all categories.
     
    We’ve instructed staff not to giggle if they receive a call asking to schedule a HUEY/DEWEY/LOUIE physical!

    Gregg DeNicola MD CMO, Caduceus Medical Group, PDQ Urgent Care & More, & PDQ Telehealth
    Mary DeNicola DNP PDQ Operations Officer 

 

 

 

 

 


So What Now Orange County...Covid PCR, Antibody, Vaccine FAQ's

By editor
February 18, 2021

Sometimes, trends change just because that's what trends do....think -popcorn ceilings. We like them (ok, our parents liked them) then we don't - and prefer a different trend. 

Other times, the new trend is due to a change in circumstances---think -gas powered SUV’s replaced by electric cars as being in vogue to reduce carbon footprints as well as avoiding gas stations.

Let’s revisit 1953 and the film The Wild One.  Pogo sticks were featured and before you could say Tutti Frutti Ice Cream, Pogo sticks were all the rage. For those unfamiliar with the 20th Century, a pogo stick was a device for jumping off the ground in a standing position, consisting of a pole with a handle at the top and footrests near the bottom, and a spring located somewhere along the pole. Ok, I agree it sounds underwhelming, but if you were a ten year old in a housing tract in the Eisenhower 50's, and had a Pogo Stick, you were “King of the Neighborhood.”

 Yet, by 1960, Pogo sticks started rusting in the back of the garage next to the linseed green linoleum leftover from the kitchen floor remodel. (Yes, another trend that didn't last; thank God!) Although Pogo sticks still had a lot going for them, in 1958, the Wham-O Corporation started production of a plastic hoop, inspired by a bamboo exercise hoop popular in Australia. To use it, you pretended you were doing the Hula with the hoop around your waist....a Hula Hoop! This began one of the largest fads America has seen, before or after.

They were much less expensive than Pogo sticks. And anyone, from a kindergartener, to an adolescent, to a teen, and even Mom and Dad--heck, even Grandma and Grandpa, had their own Hula Hoop. They could be used to exercise, have endurance contests, and- once you learned the trick- even toss it away, and it would "walk" itself back to you.

Sometimes, a new fancy needs a little boost-especially when it can improve the health and well-being of our community. That is where today’s blog comes in.

In 2020, testing for Covid was all the rage---we promoted it here with the “TEST TEST TEST” mantra. And it became more and more essential as the numbers rose toward the last three months of the year.

We had the rapid test. The gold standard PCR test. The saliva test. The expedited test, all with different accuracies, prices, and difficulty in finding somewhere to do it.

At Caduceus and PDQ we were militant about getting enough tests for our patients, not requiring symptoms to test, and demanding a test of cure (a negative test after a positive one) to be cleared.

People used the PCR to get back to work, travel, gain entrance to a family party, and even be reassured visiting the seniors in their lives. People would wait in their cars for hours, plead on Facebook for sites they could get a Covid test, TODAY!

Now, in 2021, it is still important to keep an eye on whether your contagious ---and by all means, check a PCR if you have symptoms of Covid. But we have a candidate for a new Covid fad--the forgotten antibody tests.

First, we must clear up one falsehood about Covid antibodies. They DO protect against catching Covid. Somewhere, social media picked up on the CDC’s and the WHO’s advice that said we weren't sure. But we are. Antibodies fight off Covid; period. How would a millennial type it?

Antibodies. Do. Work.

That's what antibodies do. It would be like saying, we aren't sure that blood carries oxygen, or the kidneys don't filter our blood... They work, well, because they are antibodies.

If they didn't, we just wasted trillions of dollars and time developing and giving vaccines. Because that's how the vaccine works; it stimulates Covid antibodies which in turn fight off the Covid virus.

But when we discuss commercially available antibody tests, we are talking about checking the antibodies we form after exposure or an infection. What about the antibodies we form from a vaccine? As they say in OZ, "That's a horse of a different color!"

The experts told us the antibodies from the vaccine are a different type of antibodies, which probably don't show up on normal antibody testing. So no need to check antibodies after a vaccine, right?

Well....a lot of people did anyway, and guess what? A lot of them have antibodies. What do we do with this info? No one has any idea.

At Caduceus, we have diagnosed over 3,000 patients with current or past Covid infections. Only ONE was diagnosed with a positive PCR swab with positive antibodies, but he had no symptoms. A new study in progress will show NO Covid infections with 11,000 patients with antibodies. We are not saying antibodies are 100% protective. However, looking at available data, it is highly unlikely you will contract Covid if you have Covid antibodies.

If you look it up, the CDC as well as all the major research centers in the US, will say something like-

"We don’t have enough information yet to say how protected someone might be from being infected if they have antibodies to the virus.”

That's fair. Also cowardly.

Sometimes you have to tell the Emperor he has no clothes on. 

We get many FAQ’s....I will post a few here and forewarn you we have the same answer for all of them...

Q: I have had Covid. Do I still need the vaccine?

A: Not sure.

You should definitely check for antibodies. If you have them, you may want to save the vaccine for those without antibodies.

It is apparent we have no idea if Mother Nature’s antibodies are "better" than vaccine antibodies.

In most other viruses, Mother Nature’s antibodies are always better--or at least as good- as vaccine induced antibodies.

Remember Chicken Pox? "Natural and wild" antibodies were much more protective than the vaccine.

But some studies are telling us the vaccine is more protective than simply testing positive for antibodies post-Covid.

Yours truly just had an antibody test, and I paid extra to get a "quantitative" number, and I was off the chart.

I have so many antibodies I swear I saw a couple crawl out of my ear last night. Am I going to get the vaccine?

Not sure.

I need more data, which will be forthcoming as more people get both natural antibodies as well as vaccine antibodies.

Q: I have had the vaccine. Do I need to check my antibodies?

A: Not sure.

It appears the vaccine may trigger antibodies not picked up by the conventional testing done by commercial labs. No "expert" has officially advised checking antibodies. The concern is you will test negative and conclude the vaccine failed, when in fact it worked perfectly; the antibodies just need a different test. Since we do not know how long the vaccine lasts, just stay tuned and the WHO/CDC/Dr. Fauci will let us know if and when we need a booster.

Q: How about Mother Nature’s antibodies? If I have them , how long will they last?

A: Not sure. (See a trend here?)

We have had patients lose IgG in a month. Others are still IgG strong seven months from their infection. The only way to know is “TEST TEST TEST.”

So do we have any specific advice for you?

You're darn tootin’. (Recovering from Covid, I saw a lot of old Westerns)

There is a 100% chance you fit into one of these five buckets. Follow along for your fortune…I mean advice...  feel free to pass it along to friends or family who may be in a different bucket.

BUCKET #1

You have not had Covid, not been exposed, nor had any Covid type symptoms over, say, the past year. You have not been vaccinated.

ADVICE- No antibody test necessary. Find a way to get a vaccine. Then just sit back and wait as we find out how long the vaccine lasts.

BUCKET #2

You were exposed to Covid--through a roommate-partner-coworker etc., at any time over the past year. I'm talking about a close exposure.

ADVICE- If the exposure is recent, start with a PCR swab. Otherwise, check your antibodies. You may be surprised to find out you are IgG positive. Then check your antibodies monthly through 2021 to confirm your (probable) immunity. If the IgG disappears, or your antibody test is negative, take the vaccine.

BUCKET #3

You have had Covid in the past year (but not currently).

ADVICE- Check your antibodies, now and monthly through 2021. Same logic. Since we do not know how long they will protect you, keep a close eye on them, and get vaccinated as soon as they disappear.

BUCKET #4

You currently have Covid, or have symptoms of Covid. You have a positive PCR swab.

ADVICE- Wait at least a month from when your symptoms started, then check your antibodies. Check your PCR regularly also, to be sure your clear of the virus. Check your antibodies monthly through 2021, using the same logic from Buckets 2 and 3.

BUCKET # 5

You have been vaccinated (apply this advice even if you also are a member of Buckets 1-4).

ADVICE- Sit back, relax, and read this blog for advice as to a possible booster. Of course, still wear a mask, social distance, and avoid super spreader events. If your personality allows for it, you may want to check antibodies, but do not be concerned if they are negative, even after the vaccine.

PCR Covid testing?

That is SOOOO 2020.

In 2021, Let’s make antibody tests all the rage. It’s good data to know.

 Oh!  Also... as long as we are discussing fads, a Hula Hoop on Amazon goes for $29.99. Just in case you are feeling nostalgic.  (I swear my Mom got mine at Zody's for a dollar!)

Gregg DeNicola MD, Chief Medical Officer

PS. I again want to thank all of our loyal readers and patients for their prayers, cards, gifts, and messages of goodwill as I continue the slow recovery from a serious Covid pneumonia.

It is a slow daily fight, but I am getting slowly better, as the doctors predicted. If you are post-Covid yourself, you are aware of the danger of blood clots, long term lung damage, and a continuing cytokine storm to keep you alert.

It would be a lonely road if not for all the support, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And yes, I still enjoy a shot of Kahlua.


CMO Covid Orange County Blog- Shares his story

By editor
January 26, 2021

It was 3 PM on my second day in the hospital--Christmas Eve- and was due to have a half hour IV infusion of Remdesivir for my Covid pneumonia. 

I looked up at the IV bottle.

It was a dark glass container, looking identical to an upside down Kahlua bottle. More bothersome - there were three heads coming off the bottle, each looking like a Satanic face.

Scared, I assumed I was dreaming. But squeezing myself, I knew I was totally awake. I closed my eyes, and looked up again at the bottle being hung. Same vile image. I noted one of the faces looked identical to the character "Anonymous.”

As a physician I knew I was hallucinating.  I knew hypoxia or high flow oxygen, of which I was having both, can cause hallucinations.

Yet it was as surreal as it comes, physician or not.

I decided to not look up until the infusion was done, and not ask my nurse about the unorthodox IV she hung.

The next day on Christmas, at 3 PM it was time for my second dose. The nurse came in to hang the IV bag. It took all I could do to look up as she hung it. It was a small clear vinyl bag, used for all IV meds. I was relieved the devilish Kahlua bottle was nowhere in sight.

I summoned the courage to ask my nurse, “was yesterday’s dose put in a different bottle?” “No,” she said, “it was the exact same small clear IV bag.”

I asked her if I had been napping when she hung the first dose. “No,” she said, “you were wide awake; why?”

I decided if I ever wanted to get released, I’d best keep my hallucinations to myself. “Just wondering,” I answered.

This falls into the category of "you know you are sick when.”

I can boil my experience into three unexpected memories. That bottle was obviously number one.

The second was my activities during my nine day stay. I had brought some books to read, planned on watching classic movies, brought a shaver and toothbrush, and some shampoo if I had a shower in my room.

Ok, I had never been hospitalized before. What did I know?

I spent eight days laying on my right side-flat, which produced the best oxygen readings.  Flat on my right side, 24/7.
 
Realize all of my adult life, I was a multi-tasker. Running a busy practice.... Running a business.... Working as a Medical Director.... Husband and raising three boys into men.... Cooking and wine tasting.... And recently I took up gardening and boating, weaving those into the hours I had in a week. The idea of lying down in my bed for even 30 minutes during the day would be my biggest nightmare.

Yet here I was, lying flat for 200 consecutive hours. This wasn't a bad dream;  it was torture.

There were a few exceptions. I could sit up to eat. But that dropped my oxygen so it had to be done quickly. One day physical therapy visited and stood me up. To achieve that, they had to crank my high flow oxygen even higher. I had one quick sponge bath. No shower, no shaving, no reading, no TV, and no visitors. My only view was of the nurse’s call button on the rail next to my face.

I knew that position was the only way my oxygen number would stay in the 90’s, allowing the nurses to try to wean the high flow oxygen from the 100% they started me on to the 30% goal-- when they could convert me from high flow to regular low flow.  They had mentioned if they couldn't wean me in two weeks, I may be transferred to a "higher level of care". I knew what that meant-- the ICU for possible intubation.

To keep from going crazy, I tried to think of as many bad doctor jokes as I could ...you know, like-

“I’m sorry,” said the doctor to his patient. “You have Covid.  We must quarantine you, and you’ll only be fed sliced cheese and bologna.”

“Will that cure me?” the patient asked.

“Well, no,” the doctor replied, “but it’s the only food that will fit under the door.”

OR

“Doctor, there’s a patient in room one who says he’s invisible.”

“Well, tell him I can’t see him right now.”

OR

How did the doctor cure the invisible man?

He took him to the ICU.

That took up about half hour before I realized I’d rather be hallucinating than thinking up bad jokes.

By day eight, they finally managed to wean me from high flow to low flow, but I was still confined to lying flat on the right side position. On day nine, they tried to sit me up. My numbers held in the 90’s. Not only could I read, eat, and watch TV from a sitting up position, but also they said they were sending me home. There were too many people in the ER as sick as I was the week earlier with no beds available. My Italian guilt took over as I realized I was glad there were enough sick people to force them to kick me out of my prison.
 
That leads to the third unexpected experience being home.

I imagined sitting on the couch watching Netflix, catching up on my medical reading, chatting on the phone with friends and family, and being back to normal in a week or so.

You can stop grinning now.

I was still on 24/7 oxygen, so my nurse/wife Mary was in charge of the slow steady wean. I am still on oxygen now, so I learned this will be a long-term project.

I was given exercises to help build up my strength. Problem is they drop my oxygen numbers plus they exhaust me. I need to use an incentive spirometer every 10-15 minutes to expand my lungs.

So I found recovering from Covid pneumonia is a lot of work. I should have believed my doctors who warned me to measure my recovery month to month, not week to week.

Yet as I recover, I find myself wanting to resume previous activities. When I was first came home, I told my staff I was retiring from blogging. Yet three weeks later, I know I want to go back to some sense of normalcy.

Believe me, writing this blog today is much more therapeutic for me than you.

One of our patients in Laguna Beach is the glass blower from the Sawdust Festival. 

He isn't going to believe the special commission I have for him this summer.

I just need to empty out a bottle of Kahlua.
 
Gregg DeNicola MD
Chief Medical Officer
Caduceus Medical Group, PDQ Urgent Care and More, PDQ Telehealth 
 
P.S.  It is an understatement to say I am overwhelmed by the hundreds of cards, emails, and calls from our amazing patients and skilled staff wishing me healing. I tried answering everyone personally, then realized it was an impossible goal.

Reading these well wishes was stronger healing than the Remdesivir. I am truly humbled. Reading them made me realize I have had a career blessed by the heavens and the very best patients in the universe. Believe me the love goes both ways.
 
Remember to get tested with ANY symptoms and stay home as much as possible. I have been asked where I contracted Covid and I am sure it was from some asymptomatic person I came in contact with at work. I was still seeing patients in the office four days a week and masks are only 80-95% effective. It was a matter of time that a Covid particle sneaked around the masks we were wearing.

In retrospect, I should have stayed home doing video visits only when the numbers exploded after Thanksgiving. Do not repeat my mistake.

Caduceus will not be receiving the vaccine soon, so make best efforts to get vaccinated where you can. If you have had Covid, we advise a monthly antibody test through 2021.

We are now researching what a 2021 check up should entail and will be publishing that in a future blog.


CMO Covid Blog Orange County- Latest numbers from the Caduceus Covid Treatment Team

By editor
December 15, 2020


Last week, we gave a special bulletin on five items relating to the pandemic. To update this week, we enlisted the help of one of the most famous doctors of all time. He did this by eavesdropping on Annie, a young adult who sported a "good Annie" on one shoulder, and a "bad" Annie on the other. 
 
#1- A new symptom, diarrhea, had taken over as the most common symptom for Caduceus patients. That has not changed in a week, with the proviso that headache has now become the second most common. And those that have diarrhea typically do not have headache, and vice versa. Yes, we still have a lot of respiratory presentations. 
 
The issue is the raw volume. It is very difficult to keep up. The first 12 days of December we accepted 208 new positive patients into our treatment program.  It took four months in the spring to hit 250 cases. Today as I type this, we just assumed an additional 36 new cases.
 
In one day. 
 
A new issue is the challenge hiring new staff and doctors fast enough to take on this volume. So if you interact with our staff, realize many are putting in 12 hour days, 7 days a week with no vacation this year. 

The current spike was predicted by many (including this blog), with the Thanksgiving holiday being the main culprit. But another culprit has emerged- most new cases were due to invalid quarantining.  Far too many patients went back to work, went to gatherings, and went out with friends despite not confirming a negative test after a positive one, or after a close contact. 
 
Let’s ask our guest doctor, Dr. Seuss, about the conversation with Good Annie vs. Bad Annie---Bad Annie has lost her sense of taste and smell...Good Annie advises to quarantine while being tested.
 
BAD ANNIE:   
I do not like Covid 19
I do not want to Quarantine!
 
GOOD ANNIE: 
Would you, could you in your house?
Maybe even with a mouse?
 
BAD ANNIE:
Not in my house
Not with a mouse
I do not like Covid 19
I do not want to Quarantine!
 
GOOD ANNIE:
Would you, could you with a mask?
Maybe if we fill a flask?
 
BAD ANNIE:
Not with a mask, not a flask
I can’t believe you’d even ask
I do not like Covid 19
I do not want to Quarantine!
 
#2- We mentioned that tests were becoming scarce last week. We are pleased that we now have collected enough swabs to resume our usual testing advice.  Many labs are still warning about low supplies, so if you try to find tests close to Christmas at other facilities it may be difficult without symptoms. 

We have more PCR tests than the rapid antigen tests. But we do NOT advise rapid antigen tests in most cases, so try to ask for the more accurate PCR. We still offer same day or overnight results with the expedited test for a fee. We will continue to work hard to always have enough tests for our loyal patients.
 
So bad Annie, while you wait for your result; be sure to quarantine!
 
GOOD ANNIE:
Would you, could you play a game?
Pick up Stix is not that lame
Oh! I know a real fix
Find a series on NetFlix!
 
BAD ANNIE:
I do not play Pick up Stix
I don’t have NetFlix
I do not like Covid 19
I do not want to Quarantine!
 
GOOD ANNIE:
Would you, could you in a car
Maybe you could drive real far
Or better yet on a fancy train
Enjoy the view, out of the rain
Or better yet in a tree
Way up high, where no one can see!
 
#3 We mentioned last week that saliva testing may become available with another choice for a rapid result. We are still researching this. It still isn't ready for prime time.  We will keep you posted on social media and our website. 
 
BAD ANNIE:
Not in a car, not on a train, not in a tree, just let me be
I do not like Covid 19
I do not want to Quarantine!
 
GOOD ANNIE:
Would you, could you wearing socks?
Would you, could you with some Crocs?
 
BAD ANNIE:
Not with socks, not with Crocs
And I don’t want to hear from any docs!
 
GOOD ANNIE:
Here’s an idea, a fancy hotel
With food a plenty – just ring the bell
 
BAD ANNIE:
I cannot taste! I cannot smell!
I don’t want a fancy hotel!
You can keep your food a plenty
I’m so sick of Twenty Twenty!!
 
#4- Vaccine questions---Here is what we know now:
 

  • The Pfizer vaccine is FDA approved for all persons 16 and older to prevent Covid 19 
  • Our Federal government has allocated 6.4 million doses to be shipped now intended for hospitals and government health systems (eg. VA, etc). Their intent is to vaccinate health care workers, high risk seniors, residents of nursing homes, and assisted living residents. 
  • As supplies increase, the wider population will be able to obtain them at no charge at urgent cares, pharmacies, and physician offices. We are told this can optimistically occur in February or March.

We are on it.

 
Only the Pfizer messenger RNA vaccine has been approved. Found to be 95% effective, side effects were uncommon, naming the usual site pain, fatigue, headache, and chills. These were more common after the second dose that is required with the Pfizer vaccine. More traditional antibody vaccines are also asking for approval, and may become available through the spring. Patients could then pick their personal choice. 
 
We DO NOT know the duration of the immunity from the vaccine. An annual vaccine, much like the flu shot should be planned for most likely. 
 
The vaccine does nothing once the virus infects you. 
 
WHAT?  I’M POSITIVE???
Quarantine???
If you make me, if I must
For the better good I trust!
 
I’ll wear a mask, bring on the flask
I will take Covid to task!
 
I’ll take my meds and stay away
And quarantine all night and day!
 
I’ll nest and rest and then re-test
Because Caduceus says it’s best!
 
#5- How to reach us--We mentioned in last blog the issues with our phones. And with the huge spike this last weekend, answering calls timely is a challenge. However, we have hired more staff and will continue to make answering the phones a top priority.

On the positive side, we have seen a much higher volume over our website and app live chat feature and the email feature we call Mousecalls. Those continue to be the fastest way to talk to us.  With hundreds of tests a week, even calling back all the negative tests is challenging. 
 
WHAT?  I’M NEGATIVE???
 
I still don’t like Covid 19
But I survived the quarantine!
 
Hooray, hooray I’m finally free!
 
Now to build  IgG……
 
Gregg DeNicola MD
Chief Medical Officer
Caduceus Medical Group

(With special thanks to Mary DeNicola, DNP, and Theodore Seuss "Ted" Geisel helping provide smiles in the midst of the worst part of the pandemic.)


CMO Covid Patient Bulletin Orange County December 2020

By editor
December 8, 2020

Special Bulletin-
 
We want to alert our Caduceus and PDQ patients to new developments regarding Covid ---the usual disclaimer-

These apply ONLY to our patients, other health systems may be experiencing different scenarios, or perhaps not reporting them.
 
1. New presentation of Covid
2. Testing shortage looming
3. New saliva testing update
4. News on vaccinations
5. How to reach us
 
1. New presentation of Covid
 
Like most of the country, we have had an explosion of new cases. So many that we have a difficult time to keep up with the pace. Our aggressive treatment program has been successful in reducing admissions, ventilators, and we are now at 1000 cases treated with no deaths. However, we postulate another mutation has occurred. 
 
For the past two weeks, a large percentage of new cases present with diarrhea as the only symptom. Because they have no fever, or respiratory symptoms, many patients feel it’s a bad burrito and do not seek care. The only other symptom they have is a definite fatigue, even the loss of taste/smell has been rare. Some of these patients do progress on to a full blown Covid picture, so it’s important to get tested if you experience a new onset diarrhea, DESPITE WHAT YOU MAY HAVE RECENTLY EATEN. 
 
 
OUR ADVICE-
 
Contact us for a telehealth visit at the first sign of diarrhea. Do not try to ride it out with some Kaopectate. Isolate immediately. 
 
2. Testing shortage-
 
As we have informed you previously, Caduceus does NOT run the tests ourselves, we swab and send them to a number of different labs to perform that function. The swabs themselves are NOT simply Q-tips , they are specialized swabs provided by the labs.
 
Due to the holiday rush, and the enormous increase in new cases, we have been warned by all labs that there may be a shortage of swabs, both PCR and rapid antigen. Although they cannot give us a time frame, we are hoping this is temporary until the “powers that be” can invest in more testing. 
 
OUR RESPONSE-
 
We will be testing close contacts and symptomatic patients as a first priority. We will not routinely test for every positive antibody. We suggest waiting 10 days in between swabs for patients under active treatment. We ask private companies that have been requiring weekly tests on their staff to temporarily change that to every two weeks.
 
Do not hold off on testing if you need it. We have sufficient swabs currently. But we may have to begin rationing if swabs become harder to come by. This is true for ALL medical centers that are testing. Be prepared to find it more difficult to obtain testing without symptoms. Of course we will give priority to our own loyal patients. 
 
3. Saliva testing-
 
Just in the nick of time, it appears there has been improvements of the saliva tests for Covid. Recall we initially did not advise saliva tests due to the lack of good studies and the fact the virus appears to prefer the nasal cavity, leading to many false negatives.

We have kept up with the studies and there may be new saliva tests that are a little more accurate than the rapid antigen test, but not as accurate as the PCR. If it passes our vetting, we will announce it via our website and social media, and begin using them quickly.
 
DO NOT fall for the “do it yourself” saliva tests. There are far too many errors with this. 
 
OUR ADVICE-
 
Consider saliva testing only once we have thoroughly investigated it for efficacy. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and check our websites daily for updates. 
 
4. Vaccination questions-
 
Hard to believe but we know about as much as you do from the news media. We have put in for an order, but that is just a formality. We have contacted the manufacturers directly, and their tersely worded responses are a bit disappointing. They basically say “no comment.”
 
Sources at higher levels have shared with us that both seniors and health care workers will come first.
 
But will it be no charge and administered by the government? 
No comment.

Will they sell it to doctors to give in their offices?
No comment.

Will it be the technology of messenger RNA developed by Pfizer and Moderna or will a more typical antibody vaccine being developed by other labs be offered?
No Comment.

Will it be mandatory?
No comment.
 
Will it really get us to herd immunity?
No comment.
 
Did we really ask the authorities all these questions?
No...oops I mean absolutely. Very frustrating.
 
OUR ADVICE-

Any rumors you hear about the vaccine are just that--rumors. Check with our social media and website for updates as we get them. Our past performance on Covid tells you Caduceus been on the cutting edge, and ahead of the game from the beginning. That will continue with the vaccine.
 
DO NOT sign up for, or pay money, or visit an unfamiliar medical office to get in line for the vaccine. There are many hoaxes and scams going around, and NO ONE can or should be taking any money from you at this time for the vaccine or for a waiting list.
 
5. How to reach us-

This last weekend, we had over 2,000 phone calls, mostly about Covid. It obviously overwhelmed our staff, and we apologize if your voice mails were not answered. We are still a local doctor owned small business and would need a staff of dozens of operators to handle what we are experiencing now.
 
Hands down the easiest way to reach is is via email, either the patient portal or Mouse Calls on our website for medical questions. We commit to a same day answer.  Our live chat feature on the websites or apps is a great way to make appointments for testing or any other appointments.
 
OUR ADVICE?
 
If you call and do not get an immediate answer, use the email or live chat options instead of calling again.
 
We would appreciate not leaving negative reviews on Yelp or Google saying we don't answer our phones. This is our first pandemic and we are really using every resource we have to serve our patients. We want to stay in business as much as all other small business owners. 
 
Steve Jobs said this as part of his Apple strategy, but it applies to us now more than ever...
 
Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future. 
 
 
Gregg DeNicola MD
Chief Medical Officer
Caduceus Medical Group