Over the past few weeks you have all seen or heard much about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, in California. We recognize that situations such as this can create fear and anxiety and our best way to address that is through communication, education, and preparation. Below you will find information to answer any questions or concerns you might have. 

Hospital Appointments:

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I think I have COVID-19, what are the symptoms? How do I know if I should go to the hospital?

COVID-19 is a new disease, one that has not been previously seen in humans. While we don’t know everything about COVID-19, there’s much we do know. First, the symptoms are generally more severe than typical respiratory infections.

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. COVID-19 can also cause sore throat, diarrhea, and muscle aches.  If you think you’ve been exposed and develop these symptoms, call your doctor for medical advice.  The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you do not go to the emergency room or urgent care center if you have mild illness.  Instead, you should self-isolate at home.

Emergency warning signs requiring immediate medical attention are difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to wake up, or bluish lips.  If you have any of these symptoms go to the nearest emergency room or call 911. 

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Since I am receiving radiation treatments, am I more vulnerable to get COVID-19?

In most cases, radiation therapy does not make you more vulnerable to contract COVID-19. You may have other factors that contribute to your susceptibilities, such as age, respiratory issues or chemotherapy.

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Is it safe to undergo surgery at Saddleback Medical Center?

Yes, it is safe to have a surgery at the hospital. The safety of our patients, family and staff is of the utmost importance to us. Rest assured that we are following all infection control policies and the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to decrease exposure to the Coronavirus. However, to further reduce the risk of spread, we have made the difficult decision to suspend certain elective procedures based on criteria and the surgeon’s clinical review.

If you have a procedure scheduled at Saddleback Medical Center, please consult with your surgeon to determine whether it should be postponed.

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Is it safe to go to the hospital or clinic appointment if I am ill?

Yes, it is safe to visit the hospital or clinic appointment to receive medical care. Saddleback Medical Center has implemented some additional visitor restrictions during this time, to help diminish the spread of the virus and to keep our patients safe. 

Also, due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, we are maximizing “social distancing” and decreasing all non-urgent interactions. We recommend that you call your physician to determine if you should keep your visit.

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Is it safe to go to the hospital or outpatient appointment if I am ill?

Yes, it is safe to visit the hospital or outpatient center to receive medical care. Saddleback Medical Center has implemented measures to prevent the spread of infection. There are hand sanitizers available at every entrance, floor, and patient room.

Upon checking in, patients with respiratory symptoms are masked as they enter the facility.

You may see hospital staff wear a mask as they are ensuring compliance with our hospital flu vaccination policy. It is our policy to mask anyone during the flu season if they have not received the flu vaccine. Rest assured that your healthcare providers are in good health, as we actively encourage staff to stay home if they have symptoms or are ill.

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What is the process to check in if I have an appointment at the hospital?

Upon checking in, patients will be screened and masked if necessary. You may see hospital staff wear a mask as they are ensuring compliance with our hospital flu vaccination policy. It is our policy to mask anyone during the flu season if they have not received the flu vaccine. Rest assured that your healthcare providers are in good health, as we actively encourage staff to stay home if they have symptoms or are ill.

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I have a consult at the MemorialCare Cancer Institute – Meiklejohn Radiation Oncology Center, should I come in?

In an effort to keep our patients and staff well, we are seeing patients with urgent cases only and are rescheduling all other cases. Your referring physician will be able to determine if they feel you should come in. Please reach out to your referring physician.

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Why is my follow-up appointment at the MemorialCare Cancer Institute – Meiklejohn Radiation Oncology Center being canceled?

We are dedicated to protecting the health and safety of our patients and staff. Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, we are maximizing “social distancing” and decreasing all non-urgent interactions. We are postponing in-person follow-up visits for approximately 30 to 60 days. The delay will last until the situation stabilizes. As you know, this is a rapidly changing situation, and we appreciate your patience while we try to maintain everyone’s health. If you feel your situation is urgent, please call your physician to discuss your concerns.

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Can I still have my MemorialCare Cancer Institute – Meiklejohn Radiation Oncology Center appointment/follow-up via a virtual visit?

We will contact you if telehealth (where you speak with your physician over the phone or use a video chat option) is an option for your appointment.

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I am supposed to start cancer treatment soon MemorialCare Cancer Institute – Meiklejohn Radiation Oncology Center. Should I start?

Your Radiation Oncologist will partner with you to determine the best time for you to start based on your diagnosis and specific needs.

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How is Saddleback Medical Center keeping patients, visitors and staff safe from Coronavirus?

We are screening patients as they come into our hospital and suspected patients that are determined to need inpatient care are immediately placed in isolation.  Every staff member that is screening and/or treating suspected patients are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, taking proactive steps to safeguard our staff, physicians, patients and community.

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I want to make a donation to the hospital. Are you accepting donations of supplies or meals?

Right now, health care workers at MemorialCare have the gear they need to protect themselves and others as they care for patients with COVID-19. But with the number of COVID-19 patients rising daily, and with outpouring of generosity from the community, MemorialCare is accepting help from employers and the community willing to donate supplies. This helps ensure supplies will be ready if needed in the coming days and weeks to protect staff and patients. Information on donations being accepted and where to drop them off can be found on our website at www.memorialcare.org/donations-needed.

Visiting the Hospital:

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Are visitors allowed at the hospital or in the Emergency Department?

As part of our commitment to ensuring a safe environment for our patients, families, and staff, MemorialCare has updated our visitor policies in response to the current situation with COVID-19 (Coronavirus). As a response to the current community situation with COVID-19, and Governor Newsom’s call for more restrictions, we are restricting visitation on the hospital campus. The decision to suspend hospital visits was difficult and made only after careful consideration.  

We encourage family members and friends to use alternative ways to interact with their loved ones, including phone calls and using their mobile phones for voice and video calling apps like Facetime and Skype.

We recognize there are times when having a visitor or family member present is crucial.  Visitors will be allowed based on the exceptions listed below:

  • Any patient who is at the end of life may have two (2) visitors, who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.
  • Pediatric outpatients may have one (1) parent/legal guardian, who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.
  • Pediatric Inpatients and Emergency Department pediatric patients (under the age of 18) may have one (1) parent/legal guardian, who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.
  • NICU patients (neonates) may have two (2) parent/legal guardian, who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit. 
  • Labor/Delivery and Mother/Baby Unit patients may have one (1) support person, who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.
  • One (1) visitor may temporarily be allowed to obtain vital clinical history/information, to assist with disruptive behavior, or to provide support with patients who have an altered mental status. Upon providing support, visitor will be asked to end visitation and exit the facility.

Please note, approved visitors are subject to the following guidelines:

  • Visitors will be screened, and not allowed if they have symptoms of respiratory infection (fever, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath)
  • Visitors allowed must stay in the patient’s room the entire time of the visit.  Once the visitor leaves the patient room, they must leave the medical center
  • Visitors under the age of 16 will not be allowed except under extraordinary circumstances
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If I think I have the Novel Coronavirus can I come to the Emergency Department to be tested?

If you are significantly ill and need to be seen, it is very important to call your healthcare provider before you come to the Emergency Department so that they can direct you to the most appropriate care, and take precautions to protect other patients, visitors, and employees. Tests are only available for patients who have been screened and are suspected of having the virus. For additional information about Coronavirus, and to discuss possible screening, please contact the Orange County Health Referral Line at (800) 564-8448.

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Are Emergency Department patients screened for respiratory symptoms?

Yes, all Emergency Department patients are screened for symptoms of respiratory illness at the entrance to the Emergency Department. Depending on the symptoms and assessment, the next steps for each patient are provided by an emergency department clinician.

We are sorry for the need to modify our visitation policy temporarily and look forward to returning to our customary policy when the risk of spreading COVID-19 is no longer a serious concern.

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Is it safe to go to the Emergency Department if I don’t have respiratory symptoms?

MemorialCare is prepared to treat and care for all patients, including those who may have been infected with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID19).   

Our Emergency Department team is highly trained and experienced in caring for patients, including those who need to receive emergent care for conditions such as severe injuries, heart attack, stroke, or any other emergent medical injury or illness such as a virus or infectious disease.  We have taken extra measures during this COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the continued safety, exceptional care and well-being of all our patients and staff, with a special area to treat patients coming in with suspected COVID-19 and an area for non-infectious disease.

For non-emergent medical conditions or injuries, we encourage you to take advantage of other services we offer. These include setting up a virtual appointment with your doctor, telephoning an advice nurse or visiting a MemorialCare urgent care location. It is important to practice social distancing as much as possible during this time and stay home unless you have an emergency that requires medical attention.

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Do ALL visitors have to wear a mask?

Yes, all visitor exceptions will be masked. It is of the utmost importance to reduce the spread of the virus to our patients, your loved ones, that all visitors are masked for the entire visit.

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Should visitors wear a mask when they are in the patient room?

Yes, regardless of the patient or visitor’s health status, visitors should wear a mask.

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Should masks be worn the entire day or replaced every so often?

Replacing masks often is unnecessary. A visitor can use the same mask for the entire day.

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What meal services are available to visitors?

Visitor trays are still available at this time. We offer meals between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Call (949) 452-DINE (3463). We accept most major credit cards.

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Are visitors allowed to use the cafeteria during this time?

No. For the health and safety of your loved one, it’s important that you stay in room for your entire visit. Upon exiting the patient room, then you will need to exit the facility.

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Why are hospital entrances closed?

As we continue to protect the health and safety of our patients, visitors and staff, we have closed the following entrances on our campus at this time:

  • The Saddleback Medical Office Tower entrance facing the Laguna Hills Mall on Calle de la Louisa is closed. Please use the entrance nearest our Valet tent on Calle de la Magdalena to enter the Saddleback Medical Office Tower.
  • The Women’s Hospital entrance is only open to Labor & Delivery patients. All others can use our main hospital entrance.

Thank you for your cooperation and support as we continue to ensure the health and safety of everyone at Saddleback Medical Center.

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How do I get into the Saddleback Medical Office Tower?

The Saddleback Medical Office Tower entrance facing the Laguna Hills Mall on Calle de la Louisa is closed. Please use the entrance nearest our Valet tent on Calle de la Magdalena to enter the Saddleback Medical Office Tower.

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Are MemorialCare classes, events and hospital tours being canceled?

We have canceled most of our classes and events until further notice.

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Can I refill my current prescription medication at MemorialCare Outpatient Pharmacies?

If you need a prescription, please contact your pharmacy. If you are out of refills, your pharmacy will contact your doctor for you. Ask your doctor and/or pharmacy if delivery is an option for you.

Continue to take all current medications unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

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Am I still able to donate blood?

Yes, healthy individuals without signs of respiratory illness may donate blood. Blood donors will need to check-in and wear a mask the entire time of their visit.

General Covid-19 Information:

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Is there anything I can do to keep myself, my family and friends safe?

Like other illnesses, you can protect yourself from the novel coronavirus by maintaining the same practices that you use during flu season or whenever you encounter someone with respiratory illness.

  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Cover your cough, use your elbows, not your hands
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness
  • Stay at home if you are ill
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes
  • Stay informed – check the Center for Disease Control (CDC) site regularly for new updates
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Does COVID-19 pose a risk to pregnant or breastfeeding women and their baby?

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads. For the latest information visit the CDC’s Pregnancy and Breastfeeding page:  Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Covid-19 FAQ

MHA: Mental Health And COVID-19 – Information And Resources

For additional information about Coronavirus

Please visit the CDC website or contact the Orange County Public Health Referral line at (800) 564-8448.