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Posts Tagged ‘ covid19testing ’

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 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
 


CMO Corner- Orange County Covid Updates for December

By editor
December 1, 2020

Did you know Flintstone Vitamin D is only sold in one city in the United Arab Emirates?

Citizens in other cities refuse to eat them.

But Abu Dhabi Do!
 

As the Covid numbers spike, I feel it may be time for a little humor…yes, I know what you're saying…very little!
 
There are three questions I am continually asked, so feel it’s worth addressing in this blog.
 
1. "Check my Vitamin D level. If it’s low will I have a bad case of Covid?”
 
ANSWER: Yes and No.
 
Yes: some studies, most sources quote one from Spain---show a poorer prognosis in Vitamin D deficient people. Vitamin D may help with macrophage activity to destroy the virus. It may help fight the cytokine storm responsible for many Covid deaths.  It helps "modulate" the immune system, so important in fighting off a bad viral infection. So start taking Vitamin D, right?
 
Well......wait.
 
No: Vitamin D deficiency is more common in older age groups, smokers, obesity, and in those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and also some racial and ethnic groups are more predisposed to deficiencies including African Americans.

The high-risk groups that have more complications and higher mortality rates in COVID-19 coincide with groups that have a high incidence of vitamin D deficiency. So we may just be saying "If you are an older diabetic smoker you will have a poorer prognosis from Covid,” without bothering to check a Vitamin D level.

Will correcting a low Vitamin D level help with Covid? No study shows that, since you should also correct the blood sugar, blood pressure, etc. at the same time.
 
The venerable Mayo Clinic, in a bulletin to physicians, concludes, "To the best of our knowledge, there is no data on the effects of vitamin D in SARS-CoV-2 infection.”  They then opine, “we suggest it would be reasonable to supplement vitamin D in sub-populations at risk of vitamin D deficiency and unfavorable COVID-19 outcomes.” 
 
In other words, those patients we mentioned in the preceding paragraph. I could not find studies controlling for high risk Vitamin D deficient patients.
 
Our interpretation?
 
We do not have good evidence Vitamin D will help, but it’s safe so what the heck; give it to seniors, smokers, diabetics, and any other high risk groups just in case.
 
Another issue is what constitutes Vitamin D deficiency?
 
Most labs list the lower limit as a level of 30. But most experts define true deficiency as under 15. It makes a difference since most articles quote “80% of severe symptoms with Covid are Vitamin D deficient.”

But when we check Vitamin D levels as part of a yearly checkup, I'd estimate 80% of all our patients are under a level of 30, not 15. Despite heavy research, I couldn't find studies on Vitamin D levels under 15 and percentages of a Covid prognosis.
 
Our conclusion?

Taking 2000 units of Vitamin D3 a day will not hurt. If you are a senior, smoker, obese, diabetic, African American, or have hypertension, it may help but be aware evidence is weak.
 
 
What's ultraviolet light’s favorite animal?
 
A lamb, duh!
 

Geesh! Tough crowd!
 
2. Should I use ultraviolet germicidal lighting?
 
If you own a large building, yes. In your home....read on.
 
UVC units look like your mosquito zapper on the patio in the summer, but these rays zap viruses. They have been used to fight viruses since a measles epidemic in Philadelphia in 1937. Numerous studies show when used correctly, UVC produces the same result as replacing the air in a large room 10 times in an hour. It is safe and effective to add a layer of protection against most viruses.
 
Cost? For large buildings, where it is most useful, about $6 a square foot. So for the Yorba Linda packing house at 77,000 square feet, about a half a million dollars. They are already in use in many colleges, as well as certain high traffic areas of LAX.  They definitely add a effective layer of protection.
 
Go on Amazon, you will find portable UVC wands for about $50. You wave it over your body and your friends and family. They have room sanitizing UVC lights for under $100. Perfect right?
 
Well… in fact there are no studies revealing how much or how long to use these devices, or that they even work.
 
The biggest issue is that these zap viruses IN THE AIR floating around, just waiting to zip into your nose and infect you. They have NO effect for viruses already in your body, or if they aren't floating around.
 
Our conclusion?

Installing UVC devices in indoor public spaces would cost a fraction of the budget our elected officials have spent to mitigate the economic impact of this virus. As far as buying a wand or a room unit for your family room? Might be better to open a window....
 
The lab report said I had blood Type A.

But it was a Type-O.

 
Hey, these are the jokes!
 
3. Will knowing my blood type predict the severity of a Covid infection?
 
From a study recently published at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General,
"Blood type is not associated with a severe worsening of symptoms in people who have tested positive for COVID-19."
 
When you try to research this in the medical literature, there are two different searches.
 
First, studies that look at IF you have Type O blood. Then perhaps you may have a lower risk of getting infected.  The data is very anecdotal. And weak. Most of it falls into what doctors call the "letter to the editor" category. Interesting to read, but not nearly enough data to substantiate the claim.
 
Then there are the studies that look into IF you have Type O blood.  Then  you're less likely to get very sick and less likely to need a ventilator in the ICU than if you have Type A blood.  Same; interesting theory but the data is just weak.
 
For both categories they are retrospective studies. They look back, and analyze the cases after the fact.  Much preferred would be prospective, randomized clinical trials. Those are lacking, in fact, I could not find even one.
 
Our conclusion?

We are not at the point where we can say, "You have Type O blood so don't wear a mask," or, "even though your oxygen level is low, you don't have to stay in bed with Covid, since you are Type O." It is possible a certain blood type makes better antibodies. We just need more--and better --data.
 
Questions I cannot address yet are the multitude of rumors about the upcoming vaccine.
 

•   Most insurances will not cover
•   It will be free
•   It will be given to seniors first
•   It will be given to hospitals first
•   It may wear off after three months
•   It will have few side effects
•   It will have many side effects
•    It will only be given to certain assigned centers in each county
•    It will not stop the pandemic
•    It will get things back to normal

 
Those are all possible scenarios. We need a month or two to find the answers.
 
I also have a vaccine joke.
 
But a lot of people won’t get it.
 
I’m here all week.

 
Gregg DeNicola MD
Chief Medical Officer
Caduceus Medical Group


CMO Covid Corner

By editor
September 27, 2020

URGENT ALERT-

As CMO I want to report to our patients a dramatic upswing in POSITIVE Covid19 PCR cases.

After seeing a drifting downward of new cases between late August and early September, we are experiencing large numbers of new cases similar to our dark days of April.  We are in the middle of another surge.

I cannot speak for numbers put out for LA or Orange County now. This alert is based on OUR swab results in the last week.  About 33% of our new cases are without symptoms. Those with symptoms have become very ill, very fast. Average age is 35, with most cases between 20-40.

We have noted good response to Budesonide and Decadron given early, so I encourage being tested immediately for ANY Covid symptoms, especially:

-Fever
-Fatigue
-Loss of taste/smell
-Nausea/diarrhea
-Muscle aches
-Upper or lower respiratory symptoms including sinus pain and sore throat

We want to keep our patients out of the hospital and prevent the horror stories that have become common with Covid infections, even in younger patients.

The current siege started on September 21st, exactly 14 days after the Labor Day activities we were concerned about. Recall the incubation period for Covid is 14 days. Many of our new cases trace their contact to that weekend, others to the recently reopened restaurants, gyms, and salons. One common denominator--none of our new cases suspected their contacts were contagious.  Because no one knew they were.

We DO NOT advocate more closures.
We DO advocate more testing.

CADUCEUS and PDQ URGENT CARE AND MORE NOW OFFER NO OUT OF POCKET COST PCR SWAB COVID TESTING WITH A 48 HOUR RESULT TIME (with valid insurance).

Of course the physician order is via a telehealth video visit from your home, and the swab is curbside from your car. We have reasonable cash prices if you are uninsured.

We have worked hard to arrange this service for you, please consider taking advantage of it.

If you test PCR positive -STAY HOME AND QUARANTINE!
If you are antibody negative, STAY HOME AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

Understandably, the new siege has stressed our systems, and we are adapting. You can help us by--

-Avoid the phones, use email or LIVE CHAT instead, available from the home page of our website or app.
-Use our telehealth platform, if appropriate, in lieu of office visits or walking in.
-Keep your appointments, and let us know if you must cancel or no show. This makes room for more patients.

We are all weary of the masks, the X's on the floor, the elbow bumps, and the binge watching on the couch.

We will beat this.

But it requires you to:

KNOW IF YOU'RE CONTAGIOUS
KNOW IF YOU'RE IMMUNE

Our lifestyles, and lives, depend on it.

Gregg DeNicola MD
Chief Medical Officer


Covid 19 Coronavirus September Updates- The Hard Facts on Our Progress in Orange County

By editor
September 4, 2020

CMO Covid Corner


A quick visit to the archives for a new take on an old TV show…
 
Who can you trust for Covid-19 advice?
 
Not WHO
Nor FDA
Nor even the CDC blog...
 
Just little ol' us...
We're UNDERDOG!
 
At Caduceus, we are used to being an underdog. Our entire annual revenue would possibly fit in Kaiser’s petty cash fund.  Mammoth health "systems" in Orange County, like Providence and Memorial, are comparable to Costco’s size next to our little boutique practice.  And the government agencies in the above rhyme have billion dollar budgets with some of the greatest health care minds in the world.
 
Yet here we are in month nine of the worst pandemic in our lifetime, and no end in sight. Perhaps it’s time to listen to the “Underdog.”
 
Let’s look at what our prodigious health agencies have told us so far. FYI, all the data we publish forth comes from their own websites or newsletters.
 
WHO-
The World Health Organization is an agency of the United Nations. It is funded by its members. The top three financial contributors?

-The USA
-Bill Gates
-The UK

Despite it ravaging Asia and then Europe, the WHO did not proclaim Covid-19 a pandemic until March 11. We started curbside testing for flu and strep in February, and added Covid-19 tests on March 12.
 
They have not advised universal testing, only those with symptoms or close contacts.
They advise stopping a quarantine on a swab-positive case once symptoms have resolved.
They determined a positive swab without symptoms can be due to "prolonged viral shedding.”
They have told employers they "may" want to require a negative test before people return to work after infection. 

On April 24, they told the public that antibody tests showed no evidence of immunity. They now have reversed course on that position.

On June 7, they did not advise routine mask wearing. On June 8, they changed their position.

And what has their advice accomplished? Almost 300.000 NEW cases a day worldwide now, compared with fewer than 100,000 at the end of May. Perhaps tighter controls are in order?
 
FDA-
The Food and Drug Administration is a truly bipartisan part of the Federal Government, yet empowered through Congress. So, they both have their fingerprints on the crime scene here.

Let’s see…Plaquenil. It was given emergency approval for Covid-19 in March. In June, they revoked it. Now they say they won’t approve it, but a doctor is approved to use it in the hospital or a clinical trial setting. Keep in mind that once the FDA approves any drug for ANY condition, ANY doctor may use that drug for another indication "off label,” it’s done daily on thousands of drugs. It is not "illegal" to use Plaquenil for Covid-19. But trying to follow the FDA advice is like playing Whac-A-Mole.  
 
Let’s look at the Abbott "rapid test" for Covid-19...it was given emergency use authorization in the spring.  Then several academic centers found "adverse events” (translation-bad mistakes) with the test informing thousands of patients they were Covid negative when they were actually positive.Yet the FDA approval stood. They simply put out a "warning" of the high degree of false negatives.

And now, they have just approved a new "quickie" Abbott test, coming out in October with a better false negative rate. Ummm…according to Abbott....no academic center has tested it yet.  And the FDA still approved it. 

And the result?  Only PCR swab tests have data with acceptable false negative rates. FDA approval of "antigen" tests (i.e. quickie tests) have exposed thousands of Americans to Covid-19 unknowingly.

On the flip side, thousands of Covid-19 patients have improved with drugs such as Decadron, with no FDA approval
At least right now, FDA approval--or lack of it---appears to be of little importance.
 
CDC-
The Centers for Disease Control is a federal agency. If you want to trace how Covid-19 became out of control in the US, we can start here. The first confirmed case in the US was January 20.  Yet the CDC delayed widespread testing for over a month. Worse, CDC tests were found to be faulty, and investigations show the CDC did not follow their own protocols regarding pandemics. 

And although Caduceus was the first to start testing for Covid-19 in Orange County, we had to wait until March 12 because the CDC had not made tests available to the health care community until that date. It would be April before the testing was available to the general public. And even then, everyone was running out of tests. This debacle lay in the hands of the CDC.

This was definitely a pandemic prior to March 11. 

A US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) investigation into the COVID-19 testing crisis is under way.
But that isn’t all; the CDC admitted they inflated results by combining IgM antibody results with positive PCR swabs. 
Even now, they admit they were wrong to not advise testing close contacts of known Covid-19 patients with no symptoms, and now do advise it...four months too late.

They also discourage a test of cure (re-swab) after a Covid-19 infection. It is easier to have a Michelin restaurant allow substitutions than have the CDC advise us to test.  And we shouldn't forget the CDC website told us in the spring to only wear masks if social distancing was not possible.

And what has our federal agency designed to protect us accomplished? 
New cases in US March 30-19,000 
New cases in US August 30- 44,000. 

How is minimizing universal testing working out for you?
 
How about the White House Task Force---headed by Dr Fauci, under President Trump?
 
On February 29, WE WERE TOLD "NO NEED TO CHANGE WHAT WE ARE DOING" in regards to the large wave approaching. He has also flip flopped on the travel ban (first against it, then for it). He first spoke of masks being optional, and then changed his mind. The lockdown? First for it, then against it.  More flip flops than Labor Day in Laguna Beach. 
But this is truly a bipartisan gaffe; both Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden downplayed the upcoming carnage in February when we needed a strong push to test from all of our leaders. 
 
We must mention our own Orange County Health Department leader Nichole Quick was forced to resign after death threats when she put out a mandatory mask order.  Her replacement understandably reversed the order. The job doesn’t pay enough to risk an execution.

When the state also passed a mandatory mask order, the Orange County Sheriff said he would refuse to enforce it.
Our own OC Health Department is calling our patients telling them no need to retest after an infection. As recently as last week, other health departments through the state are doing the same thing.

And Governor Newsom locking down, reopening, and then locking down again-without advising mandatory testing? 

How effective are our state leaders in getting this under control?
New cases in California March 25- 471
New cases August 25- 6,004

More testing anyone?
 
At Caduceus, we have been consistent with our message from Day One.

*Know if your contagious (PCR Swab) 
*Know if your immune (Antibody blood test)
*If your positive strictly quarantine until PCR swab is negative (Average 14 days) 
*Get tested bimonthly, or monthly depending on your risk and activity level

 
-Keep in mind the main three methods of transmission:
 1. Respiratory secretions (Wear a mask)
 2. Close contact with the virus (Social distance)
 3. Crowds (Hunker at home, avoid gatherings)
 
If our leaders had put forth--and enforced--such measures, our transmission rate would have plunged and lockdowns would have been unnecessary.

A few other facts...
Would reviewing Avian Flu help us with Covid-19?
This influenza is spread from infected birds, not bats. And does not wreak the havoc Covid-19 does. No help here.
 
How have airlines dealt with Covid-19?
Some block middle seats. Most require masks. Some upgraded their disinfecting policy. Most stopped serving meals. So far, little effect on the rate of Covid-19 spread has been noted. Nothing here to assist us either.
 
Is there an association between frogs and Covid-19? According to Ethos, a famed vet blog, It is neither considered likely that Covid-19 will be found in frogs nor as a cause of disease, nor that frogs function as a reservoir that allows spread to humans.

So, for extra credit, can we actually use Wally Cox's monologue from the famed cartoon to adjourn?
 
Sure, easy:
Where can we best find Covid-19 advice?
 
Not bird
Nor plane
Nor even frog

Just little ol' us
Heh Heh 
Underdog.
 
Gregg DeNicola MD
Chief Medical Officer
Caduceus Medical Group


Now Offering Covid-19 Coronavirus Diagnostic Nasal Swab Results in 48 Hours or Less

By editor
August 21, 2020


(With apologies to Messrs, Chandler, Hammett, Spade and Marlowe...)
 
THE BIG SLEEPY SWAB 
 
A novella in 5 acts
 
Act 1- The Wife
 
I have two rules. First, I don't follow any rules. Second, rules are for suckers. 
 
It was a balmy August morning, the early morning fog hovering over my beach town - so thick it made pea soup look like Evian. The town is an artist colony, and has the personality of a eucalyptus tree swaying in a Santa Ana wind. My name is Diamond. You can call me Samme. 
 
My rent for the summer was overdue, more than a high school senior’s library book. I was sitting in my office wondering where the rent money would come from when she knocked. She walked through my door the way a princess walks into a dive bar. She sported strawberry blonde hair and wore that dress. A dress so tight it looked like it had been tattooed on. Not the expensive tattoos. More like the kind the sailors get at the docks.
She looked like she jumped from the USS Gorgeous and didn't wear a life vest.  She had bad news written on her like it was 9-11-01.
 
"Mr. Diamond?" she cooed.
"Samme. What can I do for you Angel?" I snapped back. 
"You’re the best diagnostician in town, and I need to find out what is killing my husband Frank.  Can you help?"
I was intrigued. "Tell me more," I instructed.
She shared, "You know the drill. Headache. Cough. Low grade fever. Going downhill." 
"Doesn't sound so fatal to me," I chimed back.
"I took him to a specialist. Told me he had 48 hours to get on treatment. But he couldn't pin it down. I figure you’re our last chance."
I knew this would take some legwork. 
"Your name Angel?"
Frances Frackle. You can call me Fanny," She said with a purr. 
“I better get started Fanny. Oh, speaking of coughing, you'll need to cough up my fees,” I reminded her.
"Of course Samme. Name it,” she declared.
 "$89 for an office visit. $69 for video visit from your phone," I said.
"Sure Samme; anything," Frances responded.
 "That's not all Angel---plus expenses,” I told her.
 
She agreed so I went on…
"Get Frank down here now. Pull up curbside. Keep him in the car. Have him lay low. My people will take care of the rest.”
I knew the clock was my enemy.  I also knew what I needed - a beach house and a vacation. What I had was a white coat, a straw hat and -for protection- a #10 blade scalpel. 
 
Act 2- The Masks
 
My first stop was downtown. A little boutique on Main Beach. The owner was a little blonde number named Heidi. She was so petite a 20 MPH offshore wind would take her to Catalina. I went there because Heidi  makes the masks she sells by hand. And everyone in town gets their masks from Heidi. I knew she could help.  She knows everyone in town and everything that's happening too. 
 
"Hi Princess," I greeted her.
"Samme, don't call me that! You know that's sexist!"
"Sorry Heidi. Just being true to the genre."
"Oh why didn't you say so? Sorry- I wasn't around in 1947,” Heidi reminded me. 
"So Heidi,” I asked, “have you seen Frank Frackle lately?”
"Are you kidding? Everyone knows he won’t wear a mask. He’s been walking all over town sans mask. I saw him on the street and I offered him free masks; he just said the whole thing was a hoax," Heidi retorted with the roll of her eyes.
 
I knew it.  Frank Frackle--an Anti-Masker.
I threw 1,000 bits on the counter and took my favorite mask--jet black with nuthin’ on it. I knew there was more to this caper than I was bargaining for.  There was a killer out there and it was my job to find him...or it.
 
 
Act 3---The Mechanic
 
After a quick club sandwich from Penguin's, I decided to drop in across the street at the local mechanic. Mechanics always bugged me. That’s the trouble with mechanics. You get all set to hate them and then you meet one that goes human on you.
 
Jim was a happy Pollyanna type of fellow that you couldn't miss due to his thick Scottish brogue .When he spoke you expected to see him wearing a kilt with bagpipes and eating a meat pudding. His hands were big. As big as plates of spareribs, and twice as greasy- grease from a '47 Hudson.
 
Jim tuned up every car in town, and knew every car owner and when he saw me he said, "Hey Mr. Diamond, its ty-em  fer yer old jaloopy to get 'er oil changed.”
Jim was right. Of course it was.
"Next week, my friend. I'm checking on Frank Frackle; has he been in the shop lately?" I inquired.
"Matter of fact, 'e was just 'ere loost week. Broot 'is Rolls in,” he remarked.
"Notice anything unusual?" I inquired.
"Yes indeed. He refooosed to use our hand sanitizer--we poot it out here on the counter and ask the coostumers to use it. He said it was all a cone-spiracy!” Jim sighed.
Figures. No mask. No Purell. I was getting the picture crystal clear and it wasn’t pretty. Or as Jim would say "purty."
"Ok Jim, thanks for the dope. And better add a loob n’ filta to the jaloopy toon up next week, eh?" I quipped trying to impress with my new accent.
"Worst Scottish brogue imitation I’ve eva heard mista Diamond,” said Jim with a broad smile, “and stay oot of trouble."
 
A little trouble I don't mind. It’s big trouble I have a problem with. 
 
Act 4- The Restaurant
It was 6:54 PM -the time for most guys to go home and get in their slippers, and light a thick Cuban cigar.  But for me it was suppertime and time to go to my regular hangout next to my office, a little Creole place. The residents of my beach town will eat anything that is plant-based, gluten free, and held loosely with toothpicks. Me, I needed a steak. 
 
Michael, the owner, sported a full head of hair whiter than a salesman’s teeth after his dental appointment.  He was as smooth and strong as a garlic milkshake.  He quickly escorted me to my regular table, #4, in the corner where open windows gave a breeze as welcome as a slice of bacon at Zinc. His wife Cindy came to take my order. A tall drink of water, Cindy was as sweet as a baby's smile and her eyes revealed a brutal honesty. 
 
"The usual Samme?" she asked.
"No, Cindy, I’ll take a steak."
She was shocked.."But Samme you always have gumbo?"
"Trying to be true to the genre Cindy," I said.
"Ohh…gotcha," she said yelling over to Robert the chef, "one 1855 steak for Mr. Diamond, Robert!"
 
I asked Cindy and Michael if they have seen the Frackle’s lately.  "Oh how can I forget Samme. They were here last week, no social distancing and walking around hugging and kissing everyone. We had to ask them to leave. He said we were infringing on their human rights.”  No surprise there. Frank Frackle touched all three bases, but there would be no home run...no mask, no hand washing, no social distancing. A blind man on a galloping horse could see this picture. 
 
I finished my steak. Robert had cooked it exactly to order, matching how I was feeling. Burnt on the outside. Cool on the inside. 
 
Part 5 -The Reveal
 
The following day, Fanny reappeared in my office.  She looked as inconspicuous as a rattlesnake on a white tile floor. "Mr. Diamond, I must say you are stupid. A stupid person. In a stupid business. On a stupid mission!” she cajoled.
"I get it," I agreed. "And now I must make a stupid diagnosis. Because you see, Fanny your husband is suffering from Covid."

"Good guess Mr. Diamond. But you can’t prove it- you can’t prove a thing," she argued. She went on, “the quickie tests are inaccurate. The PCR test is the only thing that can diagnose him, and those take 3-13 days for a result. And the specialist only gave Frank 48 hours to live without a diagnosis. It appears my dear husband’s number will be up very soon."
 
"Oh but Fanny I can prove it,” I said with an evil grin. “I used the new PCR test now available at Caduceus. We swabbed him curbside yesterday and I knew we would have the results within 48 hours. And as this report clearly shows, Frank is indeed suffering from Covid 19--no doubt a consequence of being an anti-masker, anti-hand washer, and anti- social distancer. A mere $189 and I hold the proof here, in plenty of time to get him on inhalers, some pulmonary hygiene, and maybe a little Decadron. Frank should be fine!"
 
"But I had it all planned,” Fanny said and stopped abruptly.

"Yes, Fanny. You are named the beneficiary in his multi-million dollar life insurance policy. Knowing he felt Covid was a hoax, you paraded him all over town to get him infected. Thinking we could not diagnose him in 48 hours, you came to me to avoid you being a suspect. But I have the smoking gun right here."

"Nonsense!” yelled Fanny.
 
"This is an IgG moderate complexity antibody test you took at Caduceus two weeks ago, showing you are likely immune. So you knew you couldn't get Covid yourself as you tried to infect your husband. And that dear Fanny is the reveal our dear readers have been patiently waiting for---you were brought down by a 48 hour PCR swab and a moderate complexity antibody test."
 
"But Samme, aren't we going to be true to the genre? The wife always becomes a femme fatale who then falls in love with the detective and they run away together?” she asked out of desperation.
 
"Sorry Fanny. I'm going to take a load off you, and put the load right on me..."
 
I left the office and walked a block to Thalia Beach. I had a date with sunset, a beach chair, and a Laguna Feast taco.
.
 And Covid? It’s like a cheap bourbon. And I put it on ice.
 
 
Gregg DeNicola MD
Chief Medical Officer
Caduceus Medical Group
 

Introducing the expedited PCR Diagnostic Nasal Swab.  Test available to all, whether or not you have symptoms, needing clearance for travel, work, school, employee testing for your business, or just want some piece of mind.  Know if you are contagious in 24-48 hours MAX. (Only available as $189 cash price.)
 
Reserve your video screening from your phone today and then come curbside to one of our locations for your test, no appointment necessary.  
 
Learn more and/or request on-site employee testing for your business, school, or organization.
 
Email any medical questions about Covid to mousecalls@caduceusmedicalgroup.com


CMO and Caduceus Covid-19 Coronavirus Team August Updates

By editor
August 13, 2020


I’m not looking to fight with you
Frighten you or tighten you
Drag you down
Chain you down
Or bring you down
All I really want to do
Is discuss Covid with you
 
Ok, so we took some liberty with Mr. Dylan’s poetry.  It’s time to look at the path we have traveled the last five months. 
 
We began Covid testing March 11, and enrolled Covid patients in our program immediately. We published our observations a couple months ago, and a lot has changed since then. Let’s revisit what we have learned.
 
We have tested over 7,500 patients for Covid- both the swab for the virus and the blood for the antibodies. We have diagnosed or been referred roughly 750 cases as of this writing.  That corresponds well to the national average of a 10% positive rate with broad scale testing.
 
Our false positives have been under 1%--as advertised by the literature.
 
False negatives? Around 5-9%- again, as expected. 
 
So any speculation by pundits on social and mainstream media stating the tests are inaccurate is hooey. At least in our admittedly limited practice the tests are reliable.
 
What is noteworthy is in May we had just passed the 100 mark of cases. So the other 650 cases have been found in the last three months. This is partially explained by our ability to procure sufficient tests to allow testing five days a week at multiple sites, as well as a corporate program that brings us company employees to test. Admittedly we have been aggressive in encouraging our patients to test, and obtained more innovative tests that allow earlier detection of antibodies. The new moderate complexity antibody tests we offer have been very impressive indeed. 
 
Nonetheless, the number of new cases exploded.  In June our new cases per week doubled. July? Quadrupled! Why?
Yes, we reopened perhaps too soon, and definitely not smart. Beach weekends, protests, church services, BBQ’s, and parties all contributed their part to the deluge in cases. 
 
At one get together in a beach town, ONE unmasked person with not-yet-diagnosed Covid, caused the infections in EIGHT other party goers. Remember, we said the 14 day incubation period combined with being very contagious was a perfect storm? Well, there ya have it.
 
Of the 750 cases, about 100 never showed symptoms.
400 have recovered totally.
250 are under active care.
Only nine needed hospitalization--yes a 1.2% rate. This compares to a 4.6% rate nationally. 
And yes, still no deaths (insert sign of the cross being made).
 
More stats that may be of interest---
85% of those that swab positive formed IgM antibodies--again just as the biologists would predict based on other viral diseases.
 
Even better, after eight weeks, 95% form IgG--the antibody that theoretically confers immunity. This is in line with SARS 1 in 2005, another Coronavirus mutation. 
 
More evidence that the doom-and-gloom of the non-experts is baloney. These numbers are exactly what the immunology textbooks would have predicted.
 
We have seen the virus change though, at first, fatigue, fever, and cough were the three most common symptoms.  Now fatigue is still #1, but headache and diarrhea have replaced cough and fever. That's right, in April 80% of new cases had a fever. Now it’s just over 50%. So much for the temperature-at-the-door test huh?
 
At first, we were treating primarily a respiratory illness. Now we need to look for--and we have seen- blood clots, cardiac and muscle inflammation, strokes, kidney failure, and major depression.
 
Covid appears in some patients to cause a cascading inflammatory response that can affect literally every major organ system. 
 
The lungs still require the most attention. We still give the double Z’s (Zpak and Zinc) but have recently seen a better response to Augmentin and Doxycycline to the Zpak. 
 
We still push aggressive pulmonary hygiene...we obsess over keeping the lungs free of mucus to avoid a life threatening pneumonia...perhaps a factor in our low hospitalization rate. 
 
I'm sure we would get emails if I failed to mention Plaquenil.  We used it successfully until Lancet and New England Journal published articles showing no effect. Within weeks of publishing these two previously respected journals were forced to retract those studies for faulty data. The political backlash regarding using Plaquenil was unlike anything I have seen in over 40 years of practice. I’ll simply leave it at Plaquenil being in our tool box and our decision to use it is between our patients and our doctors, on a case by case basis.
 
We have found a couple of new treatments more effective than Plaquenil.
 
One is Decadron, the steroid. The studies are using it on in-patients to prevent intubation. But we found using it early in patients with obvious inflammation turns the corner quickly. Decadron helps to reduce inflammation and calms down an overactive immune system.
 
The other is Symbicort--a steroid inhaler (Budesonide) with a dilator (formoterol), used with almost any respiratory symptom.  There is no doubt to us that Decadron with or without Symbicort is a game changer. 
 
There IS one "magic bullet" for Covid cases that are very sick...convalescent plasma. Yes, they take the plasma from patients who have shown IgG, and infuse it into the sicker patients. So far, a 100% IMMEDIATE SUCCESS. Well, in fairness, we have had it used in six of the nine hospitalizations, and it worked every time. Yes, more evidence that IgG DOES bind to the Covid antigen and will prevent a second case.
 
Even more evidence: How many cases of a positive swab that converted to an IgG antibody have we seen?  Around 150.  How many of these have contracted Covid for a second time? That’s right...Zip. Zero. 
 
The problem lies in how long the IgG will hang around. We had one patient lose it in a month. In another case it only lasted two months. Using SARS 1, Chinese, and European data, it should last four-six months in most people. So to get herd immunity, we will need an effective vaccine. We cannot count on our natural IgG to protect us for years as it does against measles.
 
 
Other observations:


Smokers, vapers, diabetics, and obese patients are a much higher risk of a severe case and hospitalizations. The patients we encouraged to purchase a pulse oximeter as well as an incentive spirometer had a much easier time managing their Covid.
 
Since June, Covid in our practice is a disease of the YOUNG. Our average age is 36 for a new diagnosis. How many cases are diagnosed in seniors over 65 in our population? Would you believe less than 10%? Good, because it’s lower---UNDER 5%!
 
We respectfully and strongly disagree with the CDC and our own Health Department that the quarantine may end after a week of no fever or symptoms, with no re-swab necessary.  There is simply no evidence that a positive swab with no symptoms is not contagious. I have a challenge for the CDC/Health Department--take off your mask and let one of my Covid cases that swabbed positive but have no symptoms for a week cough in your face. Case closed. 
 
We have seen a change in behavior by the Covid patients as the summer dragged on. Now, only 15% of our cases agree to be re-swabbed.  That may relate to the young age of these patients, the seniors tend to be more compliant. 
 
Only 25% of newly diagnosed agree to quarantine---that’s not a typo.  Many may agree to stay at home for a week, but do not avoid household contacts; many even go to work. I’m not making this up. They travel, go out to eat, go grocery shopping. They use how sick they feel to guide them. But they are very contagious until they swab negative. 
 
If we want to look at why our August numbers are still high, we need to look no further than the poor compliance on re-swabbing and quarantining. 
 
Overall, we have learned a lot about treating Covid since March.  Meds have changed, symptoms have changed, and patient compliance has changed. Early bedrest, use of steroids-oral and inhaled, and aggressive surveillance via telehealth all play a part in keeping our patients out of the hospital and ventilators. And we are encouraged by the immediate improvement of all patients receiving convalescent plasma.
 
Conclusions?
1. Test Test Test. Know if you’re contagious. Know if you’re immune. If you're contagious, QUARANTINE. If you’re not immune, wear your mask, stay at home, social distance and hunker down. It may save your life.
2. If you are positive, QUARANTINE and RE-SWAB! Do not risk infecting others by spreading your Covid particles.
3. If you have IgM or are recovering from Covid, have your antibody checked every 4-6 weeks until your IgG is positive. Then you may want to still check your antibody every 4-6 week to see how long it will last.
4. If you must come into contact with people (job) or elderly (visiting grandparents) we advise a monthly swab. Yours truly has a swab every 10 days, to reassure my patients, and come to think of it, to reassure ME.
5. To help those who need convalescent plasma, contact the local blood bank directly if you are IgG positive. You may save someone's life.
 
To paraphrase Mr. Dylan:
 
I do want to straight face you
Chase you, track you, and trace you
Disgrace you and confine you
All I really want to do
Is have you die of something OTHER than Covid
After many years pass through
 
Sorry Bob.  I guess it’s time for my boot heels to be wanderin'…
 
Gregg DeNicola MD
Chief Medical Officer
Caduceus Medical Group


MEET YOUR ORANGE COUNTY COVID TEAM

By editor
July 1, 2020

A Message from our CMO-

With movie theaters being closed, I’ve found- like many of you-the magic of Netflix. And since I do not have sports to follow, I gravitated towards sports movies. 

I found that no matter what era or sport, the main characters varied little. It appears that success of a team is predicated on a stereotyped group of defined roles.

It reminded me of the Caduceus Covid Team we assembled in mid-March to objectively diagnose and treat the wave of cases we were diagnosing.  The characters were eerily similar. There are many advantages to treating some conditions with a team approach, and a new serious one like Covid has been best fought with just such a team. 

Like an old sports movie, there is always a head coach who is tough but fair. In the older movies, he wore a fedora and chomped on an unlit cigar. His game plan appeared to yelling things like "GO GO GO" and "FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!!”
“Yours truly” is the Covid Team’s "head coach.” I actually do have a fedora, and when gatherings were allowable, was known to enjoy a cigar at a summer BBQ. And with the volume our team has with Covid cases, the strategy of yelling GO! and FIGHT! has been effective.

Then there is the quarterback- good looking, popular, and pulls off the winning score by overruling the head coach and calling some creative off the wall plays.
Our quarterback Is Dr. Mary DeNicola (Doctor of Nursing Practice).  I hope to avoid political backlash by divulging Mary is my wife of 44 years, as I say she is good looking and popular. And she has consistently pulled off one win after another, fighting off this unpredictable and deadly bug. We form the game- I mean treatment -plan together, but she is on the iPad over 12 hours a day making creative and life-saving decisions on our Covid patients. I know with her “play calling” our patients are in excellent hands.

Of course, every winning team has excellent Special Teams. 

Our OBGYN Covid consultant is Dr. Nathaniel DeNicola, Senior Fellow on Health Economics and Chair of the ACOG Department of Telehealth. Yes, you do see a trend--to be a member of the team it does help to be named DeNicola--and in Nathaniel’s case, my first born son. As a board certified OBGYN, we refer him cases involving GYN issues and all Covid patients that are pregnant.  Yes, they have special needs that require a specialist with Covid knowledge and experience.

Our pediatric Covid consultant is Dr. Cyndy Krepps-Hoffer (another Dr. of Nursing Practice) with the most beautiful South Carolinian accent on Earth.  And astonishingly, she is NOT a DeNicola! She is an excellent clinician with extraordinary diagnostic skills, which is so important with pediatric Covid cases. All Covid related kids issues are referred to Cyndy, under the auspices of the team. Recently, Cyndy diagnosed a MultiSystem Inflammatory Syndrome in a child that previous doctors had missed. This condition hits kids with Covid exposure, yet they do not test positive. A few days in the ICU and -thanks to Cyndy--a life saved.

One roll in all sports movies is the “play by play’ guy. He keeps the audience up to date on the goings-on, and despite trying to be objective always roots for the home team. When they win the big game, he beats up the announcer on his left with a rolled up program, who coincidentally always was for the other team. Our play by play person is Talia Wright. Whew! Another non-DeNicola. Actually Talia's maiden name IS DeNicola, and yes -full disclosure--is my sister. 
Acting as a concierge, she keeps all the patients and providers informed, of appointments and results, late into the night if necessary.  I do not believe she has ever beaten anyone with a program, she can get quite irate when labs delay test results.

Another essential character is the water boy (water person in 21st century jargon). He offers comic relief, always smiling and joking around. He has the uniforms clean, Gatorade handy, helmets painted, and talks the star player into playing in the Big Game despite his girlfriend dumping him.
Our water person is Pam Dukes. Pam is not related by blood, however has been in the DeNicola family almost 50 years and has a permanent smile painted on her face. She keeps the team in good spirits and does whatever it takes to oversee 200 patients with Covid and related conditions. Phone calls, getting the video visits working, tracking down labs, and even making daily runs to TruBru coffee house next door to keep everyone awake. Without Pam, there is no team.

I understand  nepotism invites criticism . But I counter with an iron clad argument--using pizza of course (the Covid Team’s theme). You have all had Pizza Hut--and it is a competent pizza. They are a big pizza system, and have many resources available to them. 

Now compare with the pizza at Tony’s Little Italy in Placentia. Tony’s is family owned and run by Tony Manzella since 1978, with his wife and son (also named Tony).  They aren't part of a big company. Yet you taste the care and passion the Manzella family brings to their pizza--the best I have ever tasted. And I admit to tasting a LOT of pizzas!
I pray our Covid team matches Tony’s results with Covid instead of Pizza.

The team enrolls patients from positive swabs or antibody tests, and referral from friends and other doctors. All visits are conducted by telemedicine, varying from daily to weekly appointments. Treatment protocols are followed and change frequently, depending on what we see working and not working.

We prescribe total isolation while infected. 

And total bedrest. 

We trace close contacts--which we define as being within five feet for at least 15 minutes the 15 days prior to symptoms or a positive test. Yes, we know the two week incubation period and six feet rule. But 5-15-15 is easier to remember. 

Depending on details of the case, we prescribe the "Double Z's" and the Covid Cocktail. (Further described in a previous blog).

Our #1 goal is to have Covid patients die far in the future of something OTHER than Covid. #2 goal is to keep them off of a ventilator. So far, we are batting a thousand on both goals. 

ADVICE?
1.  If you test positive, self-isolate. Do not leave your room. Get under the care of a doctor or team. It doesn't need to be ours. But do NOT attempt to ride it out our on your own. That could be a fatal mistake.

2. If you test antibody positive, prepare to repeat it every few months to ensure the immunity is working.

3. If you have Covid, call all your contacts you were within 5 feet of for over 15 minutes within the past 15 days. Get them tested.

4. If you have Covid and are pregnant or are post-operative from a gynecological surgery, you need a specialist.  If you are positive and are under 18, you need a pediatric specialist.   It does not have to be our special teams but you do need special treatment.

5. Know if you're contagious. Know if you’re immune. Test.Test.Test

This is our Covid Team. We will expand it as the virus grows. We treat aggressively, and change protocols frequently. And we work very hard- no hunkering down for the TEAM.

To end with a word from the coach to the team (with apologies to Herb Brooks)-- Covid Team, great moments are born from great opportunity. You were meant to be here. This is your time. Now go out there and BEAT COVID!!!

Gregg Denicola MD
Chief Medical Officer 
Caduceus Medical Group


Covid 19 Universal Antibody Testing

By editor
May 28, 2020

An Important Message from Our CMO
 

If you have been following our blogs since the Covid-19 pandemic started, you know our mantra:
 
Test.Test.Test.
 
If you are concerned you have Covid-19, it’s the swab. If you think you've had it, it’s the antibody blood test. For possible proof of immunity, it’s the antibody.
 
In doing over 1,500 antibody tests over the last few weeks, we have found good accuracy-over 95%. But will a positive IgG antibody really translate into immunity going forth?
 
We should know in the next 90 days, as our cities reopen. 
 
Unfortunately, we are seeing only a 4% positive rate from all we test. The vision that the antibody tests would unveil a large population immune from the virus has been a delusion, and only by knowing the antibody status of everyone going out in the community will we collect the data necessary to plan the next steps of this devastating pandemic.
 
Therefore, as Chief Medical Officer, I am calling on ALL Caduceus patients to consent to having an antibody test.
 
To assist in this undertaking, we will be requesting you to agree to a test and our medical staff will add this test at the time of each blood draw done at a Caduceus location. 
 
Results take 15 minutes, and you will be offered to wait, or to go home and we can message you back same day in your secure patient portal account the results.  If you prefer us to contact you by phone or email instead we can do that too. 
 
Whether you choose to have the test or not, please keep directing your Covid-19 questions, comments, kudos, and critiques to us.
 
For medical questions about this blog post you can email mousecalls@caduceusmedicalgroup.com.
 
To make an appointment for a video visit from your phone for Covid-19 antibody or any other medical needs, please email our appointments team at videovisits@caduceusmedicalgroup.com.
 
For any other general questions or assistance please email us at support@caduceusmedicalgroup.com.
 
 
We take every email seriously and foresee the current advice to be a small portion of this saga - as we evolve in these uncharted waters.

Gregg DeNicola MD
Chief Medical Officer
Caduceus Medical Group 


Covid 19- Our CMO Answers Your Questions

By editor
April 14, 2020

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM OUR CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER GREGG DENICOLA MD

Is this the real life? 

Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide; no escape from reality.

Freddie Mercury did not know his lyrics would be so prophetic when he wrote them 45 years ago. He asked two very poignant questions but never really answered them, unless you count Scaramouche, Galileo, or Figaro as an artistic reply. 

We will use this blog to answer three common questions that have been popping up in our emails. (Disclaimer- these answers are based on solid facts, but ARE still opinions. Expert opinions may vary.)

1. I feel fine. But can I be an asymptomatic carrier? If so, when will I not be?

2. What’s the deal with the antibody tests? When can I get one? My employer wants me to have one before they let me return.

3. Are things getting even a LITTLE better? As CMO when do you feel it’s safe to end the quarantine?

1. If you have no symptoms, and an accurate IGM antibody or nasal PCR test shows a Covid19 infection, you are an asymptomatic carrier.

It doesn't matter if you had symptoms and now are resolved, or never had symptoms. A positive PCR swab is the gold standard to determine if you are contagious. It IS possible to have viral particles in your nose and NOT be contagious. We just don't know if you are or not. No test exists to determine that. An antibody test does NOT tell you if you are contagious.

Keep in mind COVID19 is also called SARS2-- SARS 1 began in China in 2002 and is also a coronavirus so we do have some precedent to which we can look back. Using data from previous SARS outbreaks from Asia and Europe, the virus hangs around for at least three weeks and possibly three months or longer. Can it last a year? Or...gasp...forever? Hopefully not, but we simply do not have the data to tell us that answer. 

What if a person is a month out from having the infection but keeps testing positive? Assume they are contagious. 

Our answer?

If you have symptoms, GET TESTED. If you have exposure, GET TESTED. If you are positive, KEEP GETTING TESTED. If you are positive, STAY ISOLATED
Do not bother with an antibody test. Get a nasal PCR. Caduceus has ample tests as of this writing. 

2. Antibody tests are available through almost every drive through location, even big box stores. Caduceus has them available. But beware of false promises.  A quick “Antibody 101,” we receive two readings; IGM, which tells us if you've been infected recently and also an IGG which theoretically confirms immunity--that is, are you protected from a future infection, such as is the case with measles. 

Looking at SARS data from a few years ago, only 55% of patients converted a positive swab to an IGM. So to tell of a recent infection, it is pretty lousy if this SARS is similar to the last one.  But 99% DID convert the IGG by 90 days from infection. So the antibody test is not really useful until months after the infection appeared.  Again…that’s IF this SARS is like previous SARS. (DISCLOSURE-I am quoting ONE study from China. We have no idea if this SARS2 is going to act like SARS1.)

We hear many employers "requiring" antibody tests before allowing staff to return to work. That logic is fine if all they care about is immunity, but to allow the employer to say they have a virus-free workplace they really need the PCR nasal swab. Also, IGG antibody may take months to show. We may want to rethink the value of antibody tests for now.

One reasonable time to check with an antibody test is for those who feel they may have had Covid 19 in December or January and are now recovered. A negative antibody screen now would essentially rule out that possibility. 

Our answer? 

There is little reason to have an  antibody test at this time. A repeat nasal swab after symptoms have resolved is the gold standard. An antibody test 2-3 months from the infection would add reassurance the patients is both IMMUNE AND NON- CONTAGIOUS.

3. Globally and nationally, the numbers are stabilizing. Here in Orange County we are seeing less demand for testing and less positives per day.  One obvious reason is we are seeing less infections in general. In fact, almost none. Usually this time of year we see:

  • Strep throat--now? Nope.
  • Hand foot and mouth? Nada.
  • Roseola? Nix. 
  • Viral respiratory infections? Forget it.
  • Stomach flu? Negatory.

And STD’s? Haven’t seen the requisite case of gonorrhea or chlamydia in months; monogamy and celibacy appears to have cured that--for now.  Why? Because no one is coming in contact with anyone. Even housemates can’t spread something they can’t catch. We may have found the answer to cure all infections....life long quarantines. 

As the number of new cases fall, we may see the social isolation loosening, and masks, and X’s on store floors, but we must be concerned about a "second wave" of Covid 19.  Almost certainly we will have one. Until we have herd immunity, via a vaccine, the carriers will infect others. 

So ending the quarantine? 

Our answer?

If you want someone to diagnose and treat Covid 19, we’ve got this.For the cost/benefit analysis of effectiveness of loosening the quarantine, you'll need to ask our president, or governor, or Dr. Fauci, or Bill Gates. Maybe even Jake from State Farm. I'm thinking his guess is as good as anyone’s.

Gregg DeNicola MD
Chief Medical Officer
Caduceus Medical Group