Expert Guidance

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID – 19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 was first detected in China and now has been detected in 60 locations internationally, including the United States.

Our incredible caregivers, in coordination with officials at CDPHE and local health departments, follow all proper CDC protocols for patient handling of suspected COVID-19 cases. We are sharing the following information to provide background on the new coronavirus (referred to as COVID-19) and hopefully address questions you may have.

  • FAQs – Safe Reopening

    For Centura Patients and Families

    As hospitals across the country worked through the challenges of COVID-19, Centura Health made the decision to temporarily close some services and postpone many procedures to reduce the risk to our patients, their families and our staff being exposed to COVID-19.

    In coordination with State of Colorado guidance, we are ready and able to start offering needed services and procedures, as our Mission calls us to meet the whole health needs of our patients and communities. Our top priority remains the safety of our patients, their families and our providers and associates.

    Q: What steps are you taking to ensure the safety of your patients and their families?
    A: We are instituting multiple practices to ensure the safety of our associates, patients and visitors, including: 

    • Screening all associates and providers for elevated temperature and other symptoms prior to the beginning of each shift.
    • Requiring all associates, providers and visitors to wear a mask covering nose and mouth for the duration of their time in our facility.
    • Restricting visitation to one guest per patient.
    • Modifying access points.
    • Implementing enhanced deep-cleaning procedures following guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control.
    • Requiring COVID-19 testing for all patients prior to time-sensitive procedures.
    • In our hospitals, separating patients who do not have COVID-19 into different areas away from patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
    • Encouraging social distancing by reconfiguring areas like our lobbies, cafeterias, coffee shops and waiting rooms.

    Q: Why is everyone wearing masks?
    A: The safety of our patients and staff is our top priority. Centura Health follows guidelines on masks from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local health agencies. The CDC has suggested the use of masks to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

    Our staff will use different types of masks and other protective equipment like gowns, gloves and goggles in different areas depending on the unique needs of the patients we are caring for.

    Q: Will I (or my family member) need to wear a mask?
    A: The CDC recommends masks in any public setting where social distancing is hard to maintain. Patients and their friend or family member accompanying them for their procedure should arrive at the hospital in a mask.

    Q: Can my family members come with me?
    A: For the safety of our patients and staff, we are limiting the number of visitors that can enter our hospitals. However, any patient having a surgical procedure will need one friend or family member to drive them to and from the hospital, help care for them and help with forms and other information as needed.

    The guest who accompanies a surgical patient is required to wear a self-provided mask and will be screened for symptoms and fever at the entry to the building on the day of surgery. If positive, the guest may be asked to leave the building, isolate and/or seek medical attention. This may result in a delay in the patient’s procedure. The visitor will need to leave the hospital following the procedure if a patient is admitted for continued care.

    Q: Why are you testing me for COVID-19 even if I don't have symptoms?
    A: It is possible that an individual can have COVID-19 even if they are not having any symptoms. Testing and screening before procedures to rule out COVID-19 allows us to be sure we are not exposing our staff, patients or their families to the virus or creating greater risk to the patient during a surgical procedure. Your provider’s office will provide full details about screening and testing requirements upon scheduling your procedure.

    For More Information:
    We want our patients to know we are here to support them. If you are scheduled for a procedure, please reach out to your physician’s office or your scheduled facility. Our associates can walk you through any additional questions or concerns you may have.

  • FAQs – Antibody Testing

    Q1: Can I get tested for COVID-19 antibodies at Centura Health?

    A1: At this time, we are not offering antibody tests for COVID-19 (also known as serological tests) which look for antibodies for this virus in your blood. Due to the lack of precision of these tests, which includes the potential for false positives/negatives and misleading results, we continue to rely on PCR testing (nasal swab). We are eager to deploy a clinically-proven antibody test and continue to monitor the reliability of each product as they are brought to market.

    Q2: What is a serological test?

    A2: Serology tests, also called antibody tests, test for the presence of recently-produced anti- antibodies, which the body produces to fight infection.

    Q3: Are COVID-19 antibody tests effective?

    A3: There are now dozens of “rapid” devices marketed that claim to detect IgG and/or IgM antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 infection) in minutes. However, many of these tests are not FDA approved, and interpreting results is challenging since we do not know the source or make up of the antigens used in the tests. Therefore, a positive test cannot be used to infer immunity or even definite exposure to SARS-CoV-2, as most of these tests also produce positive results if they detect the presence of antibodies against other endemic coronaviruses (HKU1, OC43) that predictably circulate in the U.S annually.

    Q4: Are existing antibody tests FDA approved?

    A4: To date, only a limited number of vendors of antibody tests have applied for and received FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) clearance.

    For the remaining tests being brought to market, we do not understand how their test was put together, validated or how their performance claims were determined. This means the results of these tests provide unreliable clinical data.

    Additionally, current FDA guidance documents state that non-EUA cleared serology tests can only be performed in CLIA-certified or CAP-accredited high complexity laboratories; these are not considered point-of-care or waived tests by the FDA.

    Q5: Why are there so many types of antibody tests available if they’re not FDA approved?

    A5: It is important to understand that during this public health emergency, the FDA has suspended the normal rigid manufacturing oversight, clinical trials and review processes required for approval of diagnostic laboratory tests. Regarding COVID-19, this allows companies to develop and distribute any serology assay provided the vendor has “validated” performance, results are released with test limitations and the FDA has been notified. But importantly, simple notification is not the same as obtaining Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA, which requires the product manufacturer to submit performance data to the FDA for review.

    Q6: If I test positive for antibodies, should I quarantine myself?

    A6: At this time, we do not recommend patients be placed in COVID-19 isolation based solely on antibody testing they may have had. Serology is not diagnostic. If a patient presents to the Emergency Department at one of our Centura facilities, they will be assessed using our current guidelines which are based on the patient’s current symptoms and medical and exposure history. They should be isolated if there is concern or if they have signs or symptoms that would suggest an active infection.

    Q7: Does a positive antibody test mean I’m safe from COVID-19?

    A7: In addition to the concerns about effectiveness of the tests, as outlined above, immunity to endemic (Non SARS-CoV-2) coronaviruses is incomplete and re-infection can occur. At present, we need to assume this may also be true for SARS-CoV-2, so a positive antibody test doesn’t indicate complete protection from re-infection.

  • FAQs – General

    Q1: I have heard that the World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic. What does that mean?

    A1: According to the WHO, a pandemic is "an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people." The CDC defines a pandemic as "an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people."

    Keep in mind, designating an event as a “pandemic” doesn’t refer to the severity of the disease. Based on current information, the case fatality rate for COVID-19 is higher than that of the typical seasonal flu, but not as high as that of SARS, a similar virus first detected in 2002. There is no reported dramatic change in the characteristics of the COVID-19 virus itself or the disease that it can cause. The pandemic label is more about the widespread nature of a disease that has progressed from something local to something truly global.

    Q2: How is COVID-19 spread?

    A2: The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

    These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

    Q3: How do I protect myself?

    A3: There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC recommends preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

    Q4: What should I do if I believe I am sick with coronavirus (COVID-19)?

    A4: Call the office of your health care provider before you go. Tell them about your travel or contact and your symptoms. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with others, don’t go out in public and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.

    Q5: Why are you implementing visitor restrictions to one person per patient each day?

    A9: For the health and well-being of our patients and caregivers we are reducing the number of people and hours for visiting patients at Centura facilities. We anticipate this to be a temporary change in response to a heightened respiratory season including flu, RSV and the novel coronavirus. We thank the community for their understanding in helping us in reducing the risk and spread of these viruses.