Information for Healthcare Professionals & Facilities during COVID-19

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County Guidance for Healthcare Professionals

The Department of Health Services (DHS) is working closely with our public health partners and healthcare providers to take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Sonoma County, employing guidance from the CDC and the California Department of Public Health.

Sonoma County Health Officer Orders

The Sonoma County Health Officer has issued several health orders for the general public to protect the community. These include physical distancing, shelter-in-place and requirements for facial covering when distancing is not possible. Please see: Sonoma County Health Orders and Guidance.

The Health Officer also issued Health Advisories and Health Alerts for healthcare professionals, including hospital and clinic staff and first responders.

Surveillance/Contact Tracing Efforts

Contact Tracers Needed!

The County is seeking contact tracers to help safely open our community. You do not need to have a professional health degree to be a contact tracer, but some health background is useful. Bilingual English/Spanish highly desirable. For more information, see the flyer below, or go to https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/sonoma  and search for “Community Health Worker.”

Contact Tracer flyer 

As part of the countywide effort to “flatten the curve,” the Sonoma County Department of Health Services’ cadre of public health nurses have been conducting surveillance of individuals residing in congregate living arrangements—skilled nursing facilities, jails and residential treatment facilities—that place them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and/or for suffering more severe consequences of the disease. The County’s public health nurses schedule and conduct two site visits per day to congregate living facilities. They also train testing champions at these sites so that they may administer the test to symptomatic residents.

This case finding activity is the initial step, followed by case investigation and contact tracing. The county’s disease control public health investigators conduct contact tracing for close contacts of all individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. All of these contacts are then tested, whether or not they are symptomatic.

COVID-19 Testing in Sonoma County

We encourage all healthcare facilities to test their personnel. Those who do not have the capacity to perform these tests should refer their staff to seek testing through either their primary care provider/medical home or via the county’s drive-thru testing.

Testing, Diagnosis, and Notification

How do you test a patient for infection with SARS-CoV-2?

  • Clinicians are able to access laboratory testing through state and local public health laboratories, as well as commercial and clinical laboratories across the country. The Association of Public Health Laboratories external icon provides a list of states and territories with laboratories that are using COVID-19 viral tests. For more information, see Testing in U.S. Clinicians should direct testing questions to their state health departments. Commercial reference laboratories are also able to offer a larger volume of testing for SARS-CoV-2.
  • CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians.
  • Healthcare providers should report positive results to their local/state health department CDC does not directly collect these data directly.

See recommendations for prioritization of testing, and instructions for specimen collection at Evaluating and Testing Persons for COVID-19.

Patient Education Resources

Providing patient education is critically important, especially during a time when information changes rapidly, often leading to anxiety. A patient education video library is now available on the SoCoEmergency.org website featuring Sonoma County providers sharing tips on topics such as dental health, how to care for someone who is sick, and many other issues.

Patient COVID-19 Testing Options

Please visit the Sonoma County Department of Health Services website for information about local clinical guidance, testing protocols and Healthcare Provider Alerts and Advisories.

CDC Guidance for Healthcare Professionals

The CDC regularly updates its information and guidance. Visit the CDC website often to remain informed about current developments (refer to the topic-specific links below).

Care for Patients

Protect Patients and Workers

Additional Resources

Dental Providers, Endodontists, and Oral Surgeons

Information about emergency and urgent conditions, preventative care, PPE and other resources.  Learn more »

CDPH Guidance for Healthcare Facilities on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

On May 7th, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued an updated guidance document: Resuming California’s Deferred and Preventive Dental Care for dental health care personnel. Routine dental cleanings considered preventive in nature—including procedures such as topical fluoride and sealant application and scaling— may be performed based on:  a) local or regional availability of PPE and other needed supplies, and b) current local COVID-19 case trends. The CDPH currently advises the avoidance of aerosol-generating procedures that require use of dental equipment such as handpieces, ultrasonic scalers and air-water syringes. All staff and patients, regardless of treatment need, must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. Dental offices are urged to remain abreast of local county ordinances that may affect the provision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Healthcare Professionals

The health order for facial covering applies to all essential service providers. All indoor service sites should comply with the order for:

  • Facial Coverings – for visitors and staff
  • PPE – surgical masks for staff who will be in contact with clients/patients who may have COVID-19 and clients/patients who are ill

The Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends that organizations that primarily serve seniors or medically vulnerable individuals consider implementing the following practices:

  • Ensure they are extra vigilant in following recommendations regarding cleaning of high touch surfaces, including counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables;
  • Take all necessary measures to ensure all employees, visitors, and persons served who are experiencing any symptoms of illness stay home and avoid contact with others; and
  • Enhance screening of visitors, staff, and residents for symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., fever, cough, difficulty breathing).

We have information about  coronavirus for clinicians at: SoCoEmergency.org/coronavirus. For further details, including interim infection prevention recommendations, visit the CDC coronavirus webpage for providers: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.

Please complete this Resource Request Form (PDF) and email to CoastalValleysEMSAgency@sonoma-county.org.  Refer to CDC guidance related to strategies to optimize the supply of PPE.

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Testing

The County Public Health Lab is meeting the needs for COVID-19 testing in our community in conjunction with testing provided by commercial labs such as Quest and Lab Corps with quality assured by the CDC.  

Since April 25th, the County’s Department of Health Services Disease Control Unit has operated drive-thru testing for healthcare workers employed in healthcare settings. Effective 5/5/2020, we opened the drive-thru testing site to first responders. Healthcare workers and first responders must call and make an appointment at (707) 565-4667.

In addition, two new testing sites also opened in Sonoma County on May 5th, one in Petaluma and one in Santa Rosa. Operated by OptumServe under contract with the state, each site serves 130 people/day and anyone may request an appointment, regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms or not. People may go online (https://lhi.care/covidtesting) to schedule an appointment or call 1-888-634-1123. There is no charge for the test for those who do not have health insurance. Note that we advise people to contact their healthcare provider directly if they have COVID-19 symptoms to arrange a test through their medical home (or through the nearest community health center if they do not have a primary care provider). 

Currently all testing is conducted through health care providers based on their clinical determination that a patient has symptoms and/or history of exposure to a known case of coronavirus.

Call the Sonoma County Department of Health Services Disease Control Unit (healthcare providers) to confirm appropriateness of testing and to review testing procedures and locations. Refer to CDC recommendations related to appropriate infection control strategies for suspected COVID-19 cases.

See the Public Health Lab criteria for priority testing.  The Disease Control phone number to request a PUI# is also located on that page.

Testing for patients who do not fall into the Public Health Lab criteria may be ordered through private labs based on clinician discretion.

Current specimen guidelines for the Sonoma County Public Health Lab.  CDC’s guidelines regarding specimen collection and testing.

Please communicate needs to the Sonoma County Emergency Operations Center by completing this request form and email to CoastalValleysEMSAgency@sonoma-county.org.

Starting on Saturday April 25, and continuing into the next several weeks, the County’s Department of Health Services Disease Control Unit will be testing the most vulnerable and at-risk groups for Coronavirus (COVID-19). Those who will be tested first are health care workers who may or may not have symptoms.

  • Health care workers must call and make an appointment at (707) 565-4667.
  • A health care worker is defined as any individual employed at a health care facility whose job duties put them in contact with patients regularly and includes:
    • Medical staff, such as nurses, nursing assistants and doctors
    • Social workers/counselors working in health care facilities
    • Front desk/intake staff
    • Dieticians
    • Housekeeping/janitorial staff
    • Security working in health care facilities

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