MUSC Health biweekly COVID-19 report (March 15)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (March 15, 2021) – At MUSC Health, the safety of patients, families, care team members, students, faculty and staff remains the number one priority. The MUSC Public Affairs and Media Relations (PAMR) department issues regular COVID-19 updates on Monday and Thursday of each week. If a federal or state holiday falls on a Monday, then a report will be issued the following day. Please read the report in its entirety; information can change quickly. 

The Path Forward / Recovery

COVID-19 VACCINATION UPDATE

Vaccine Q&A 8

Dr. Danielle Scheurer talks about hugging, sequencing and variants in this COVID vaccine Q&A.

MUSC Health is aligned with CDC and SCDHEC recommendations for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and will open vaccine appointments to individuals eligible under phase 1b as soon as supply becomes more readily available. The community is encouraged to monitor muschealth.org for COVID-19 vaccine availability criteria, updates and FAQs.

Due to fluctuations in vaccine availability, we are currently unable to schedule new, individual vaccine appointments. The team is working around the clock to monitor and confirm shipments of the vaccine so doses can be allocated immediately to scheduled patients. Scheduling of new appointments will reopen as soon as additional supply is confirmed.

Our goal at MUSC is to get COVID-19 vaccinations into arms. Each week, MUSC Health is notified of the number of requested vaccine doses that will be shipped and our team compares this number to the current vaccine appointment schedule.  Due to unpredictable vaccine shipment amounts, which change weekly, our team has changed or delayed scheduled vaccine appointments.  While unavoidable given the supply chain dynamics at this time, MUSC Health is making every effort to prevent these disruptions and apologizes for the inconvenience and frustration that rescheduling appointments may cause for some patients.

MUSC Health is currently administering second doses of vaccines to health care personnel providing direct medical care in any setting, health care personnel providing indirect medical care, workers exposed to bodily fluids, and residents and staff of all long-term care facilities. This group also includes South Carolina residents age 65 or older, regardless of health status or preexisting conditions and home caregivers of children who are medically fragile or complex, or severely disabled. Eligible individuals should visit this page to make an appointment. View information and a video with directions on how to schedule a vaccination appointment.

All individuals will need to sign an attestation to their vaccine status and may need to present credentials/proof to verify they qualify to receive vaccination.  Patients who will not attest to their status or who are not able to present credentials (e.g., driver’s license or employer badge, medical license, picture of license, or other proof) will not be vaccinated and asked to return with proof at their earliest convenience.  For parents or home care givers of a medically fragile or complex or severely disabled child, individuals will be asked to supply a medical provider’s signed attestation to confirm that the parent or care giver meets criteria for vaccination. 

The federal government is currently providing the vaccine to MUSC for free, so there is no charge for the vaccine itself to either MUSC or the patient. MUSC will charge governmental payers (Medicaid/Medicare) and individual and employer-sponsored private health plans for the administration.  This helps cover costs associated with obtaining, storing, scheduling, and providing trained staff and supplies for vaccination administration. Patients should consult their insurance providers to determine what their company will or will not require them to pay for related to the administration of the vaccine.

The Department of Health and Human Services has provided a mechanism for providers to bill the COVID-19 Provider Relief fund for the cost of vaccine administration for uninsured patients. Uninsured patients will be able to receive the vaccine with no out of pocket cost.

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series consist of two doses administered intramuscularly:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech (30 µg, 0.3 ml each): 3 weeks (21 days) apart 
  • Moderna (100 µg, 0.5 ml): 1 month (28 days) apart 

Individuals should not be scheduled to receive the second dose earlier than recommended (i.e., 3 weeks [Pfizer-BioNTech] or 1 month [Moderna]). However, second doses administered within a grace period of 4 days earlier than the recommended date for the second dose are still considered valid. Doses inadvertently administered earlier than the grace period should not be repeated.

The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. For more information, visit this page.

  • Total number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered by MUSC Health: 132,696
    • 100.2% doses administered of supply received (accounts for extra doses found per vial)
    • Note: Vaccinations not yet administered are aligned with scheduled appointments. 

FOR UPDATED DATA:

Transition Time

As number of new COVID cases continues to drop, leader of MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project said it’s time to start talking about transition.

The MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project is a digital dashboard that provides leading indicators related to the COVID-19 epidemic to enable informed decisions. Current situation assessments for MUSC Health – Charleston (Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties), MUSC Health Florence, and MUSC Health Lancaster divisions are available on this site. 

HELPFUL WEB LINKS FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC: 

General information

General information 

Information about testing options

MUSC Virtual Urgent Care

COVID-19 vaccination

MUSC Health diagnostic saliva-based COVID-19 testing

MUSC Health is prioritizing diagnostic COVID-19 saliva testing for symptomatic patients (by appointment only) at select locations in the Charleston, Florence and Lancaster communities. Results will be available in MyChart in less than 24 hours (per internal data reports). The test is not a “rapid” point-of-care test and results must be processed within a clinical laboratory. The cost of the test will be billed to insurance carriers. Based on the recent CARES Act, insured or uninsured patients will not have an outstanding balance for this test. High levels of accuracy were reported for MUSC Health saliva tests, thanks to continued interdisciplinary collaboration and expertise sharing among clinical care and bench research teams. 

Status of MUSC COVID-19 diagnostic testing

At this time, MUSC Health is not experiencing significant issues which would delay either the scheduling of a test or delivering the results of tests to patients. Individuals who are symptomatic or have had a significant exposure to someone with COVID-19 should seek testing. 

We will provide timely notification to the public if any changes occur and ask for understanding and patience as we respond as best we can to external factors beyond our system’s control that may arise.   

MUSC COVID-19 mobile diagnostic testing  

MUSC Health, in partnership with the state legislature, is rotating mobile screening and collection sites in rural and underserved areas throughout the state, for both walk-up and drive-through patients. Prescreening is not required and there is no cost to patients. Patients will be contacted within two days with the results of their test, if not sooner. Patients are asked to bring photo identification and an insurance card if they have one. The CARES Act requires MUSC to bill insurance providers if patients do have insurance. Patients may email drivethruresults@musc.edu if they have questions regarding their results. If they do not have an email address, they may call 843-985-8888.

Sites may close early or operate with reduced hours if weather conditions become unsafe for care team members or if volume exceeds site safety capacity. 

NORTH CHARLESTON: The Charleston International Airport and MUSC Health have collaborated to offer a mobile COVID-19 diagnostic testing site. The site will open on Tuesday, March 16, Wednesday, March 17, Friday, March 19, Tuesday, March 23, Wednesday, March 24 and Friday, March 26 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and is located on the 4th floor of the airport’s Daily Parking Garage, 5500 International Blvd., North Charleston, S.C. 29418. “Rapid’ nasopharyngeal swab testing is now available at this site, with results available via email within 30 minutes of the test. 

Information related to Healthy Me — Healthy SC free, statewide mobile testing sites for each week can be found here.

In reporting on these important developments for these local communities, individuals (elected officials, community leaders, city employees, etc.) and media outlets are asked to adhere to these basic rules while engaging with these locations during operational hours: 

1. NO FILMING OR PHOTOGRAPHY INSIDE THE SITE while patients are present and during the stated “open” hours for any given site. This is to protect patient privacy. We also request that no real-time aerial, close-up/identifying or magnified lens use while patients are present.

2. We ask that every effort be made to follow all security protocols for the site. Those who cannot follow these protocols will be asked to leave the area. 

3. We ask that all MUSC Health team member interviews related to this topic take place when the site is not in operation (before opening, during an individual’s lunch break or after closing via phone or Zoom) so that the team can focus on safety, patient care and making sure that things run smoothly. All interviews should be coordinated through MUSC PR offices and are dependent on location and care team member availability. 

MUSC Health antibody testing 

MUSC Health is offering voluntary COVID-19 serologic testing through musc.care. Results will be available in MyChart within 48-72 hours. Testing is available at select locations in the Charleston, Florence, and Lancaster divisions and by appointment only.  Repeat testing, for those who test negative, will be offered no more than every 30 days for qualified candidates. The cost of the test will be billed to insurance carriers. Based on the recent CARES Act, insured patients will not have an outstanding balance for this test. It is important to make sure individuals and the media understand what the test results mean.

MUSC COVID-19 follow-up story ideas 

COVID Prevention

COVID cases in schools show need for continued steps to slow the virus’ spread, even as many adults, including teachers, are getting vaccinated.

Variant Sequencing

The molecular pathology lab at MUSC has begun checking coronavirus samples for variants, including new, highly transmissible strains. 

Novel MISC Therapy

MUSC team reports in Pediatrics that the first two kids in nation treated with an investigational therapy for MIS-C improved dramatically within a day.

Estimated Immunity

“We’re getting there.” MUSC COVID-19 tracking team crunches the numbers on immunity in South Carolina. 

Making History

Women’s History Month finds women at the Medical University of South Carolina reflecting on the fact that they’re living through history.

Safe Dentistry

Dentists have new info about how to protect themselves and patients thanks to research & innovation at MUSC. 

Basic stats / COVID-19 positive cases 

Previously reported data points, such as the number of telehealth screenings, total number of specimens collected at various mobile sites, or the number of COVID-19 positive MUSC care team members are available upon request. Information related to vaccinations is at the top of this release. 

  • Total number of COVID-19 community screening tests completed by MUSC Health-Charleston: 316,600

(MUSC Health system-wide: 369,442) 

  • Total Number of COVID-19 positive greater Charleston community screening tests: 28,280

(MUSC Health system-wide: 34,805) 

    • It is important to understand, and to avoid duplication in reporting, that these cases are reported to, and included in, the DHEC statewide COVID-19 numbers.
    • The majority of these individuals may not require hospitalization in a South Carolina hospital. 
  • Number of COVID-19 inpatients currently in the hospital (MUSC Health-Charleston): 24
    • MUSC Health monitors this number to determine that we have current and future capacity in terms of health care providers, supplies, ventilators and PPE. Please see the IHME graph here. These numbers are consistent with the modeling and expectation that MUSC Health will have appropriate resources to manage these patients. 
    • Of the 24 patients currently in the MUSC Health-Charleston location, 7 are in MUSC Health COVID-19 intensive care, with 2 of the 24 total inpatients currently receiving ventilator care for disease progression.

For specific information about MUSC Health Florence or Marion Medical Centers, please contact Kim Geiger at geigerki@musc.edu. For information about MUSC Health Chester or Lancaster Medical Centers, please contact Ashley Shannon at shannona@musc.edu.

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About MUSC 

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is home to the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center, with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $271 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2020, continuing to lead the state in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $129.9 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.

As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2020, for the sixth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.2 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.