Change in our masking policy and additional healthcare updates
Dear InterMed Patients,
I hope you are enjoying this season of change. Along with the budding trees and early blooming flowers, this spring brings updates to keep you informed on COVID-19.
Starting May 1, masking will no longer be mandatory at InterMed facilities. For those individuals with a cough or other cold symptoms, we will still require masks that cover the mouth and nose. This is important for the health and safety of other patients and team members.
We decided to make this change in our masking policy only after a careful analysis of COVID rates in Southern Maine. Prevalence of the disease has been low, vaccination rates are high and COVID-related hospitalizations continue to decline. Everyone is welcome to mask if they wish. If you choose to mask and would be more comfortable if your care team does as well, please let us know and we will wear one.
Precautions that remain unchanged include:
- If you have symptoms, you will need to take an at-home COVID test within 48 hours of an in-person visit. If your result is negative, you may proceed as planned. Please notify us of your symptoms and negative test and wear a mask in our facilities. If your result is positive, please isolate and call us to discuss options.
- We will continue to make masks available at all entrances to our offices.
- Our staff will mask when caring for patients with symptoms or who are COVID-positive.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month updated its COVID vaccine recommendations. The changes include:
- An additional updated (bivalent) vaccine dose for adults ages 65 years and older and for people who are immunocompromised.
- Monovalent (original) mRNA COVID vaccines are no longer authorized for use in the United States.
- Recommendation that everyone 6 years and older receive an updated (bivalent) mRNA COVID vaccine, regardless of whether they previously completed their (monovalent) primary series. Individuals 6 years and older who have already received an updated mRNA vaccine do not need to take any action unless they are 65 years or older or immunocompromised.
- For young children, multiple doses continue to be recommended and will vary by age, vaccine and which vaccines they previously received.
For additional details, visit the CDC’s Stay Up to Date with Vaccines webpage. Please contact us if you would like to make an appointment to receive the vaccine.
Expiration of Public Health Emergency
On May 11, the federal government’s Public Health Emergency will expire, as will a number of measures designed to provide flexibility earlier in the pandemic response.
- Prescriptions: Patients may need to see us in person, rather than in a telehealth visit, for continued or first-time use of controlled substance medications. Your care team will let you know if this applies to you.
- Vaccinations: Commercial insurance may have a co-pay for these vaccines.
- COVID-19 testing: Your health plan will cover the cost of a laboratory test if it is ordered by your doctor and you are symptomatic or have been exposed, but not necessarily in other cases. At-home tests may no longer be reimbursed by your health plan. Free at-home tests are currently available through these programs:
- Four free tests through the federal government: www.covid.gov/tests
- Maine residents may order kits monthly: www.accesscovidtests.org
Drug shortages are on the rise nationally due to ingredient shortages and increased demand. Stimulant medications used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, albuterol in nebulizer form for breathing difficulties, antibiotics for infections and opiates for pain relief are among those in short supply.
If your prescribed medication is out of stock at your pharmacy, please ask your pharmacist to contact InterMed to discuss and prescribe an in-stock option. While our team does not have access to manufacturers’ restocking timelines, we are committed to working with your pharmacist to identify appropriate alternatives.
Our entire InterMed family wishes you a happy spring. Please be safe and well. We are honored to be entrusted with your care.
Dan Loiselle, MD, Chief Medical Officer, and the InterMed care team