Coronavirus Information
COVID-19 TESTING AND VACCINE INFORMATION
For a list of Archived messages from CEO and CMO, click here.

Message from CEO and Chief Medical Officer

May 18, 2021, 10:38 AM

Dear Patients of Sansum Clinic,

I am gratified to begin this letter with some positive news on the COVID-19 front. 
New virus cases and numbers of new deaths continue to decline across the U.S. and here locally. As of May 13, 40% of all Santa Barbara County residents are fully-vaccinated, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department

Will it stay this way, you ask? For now, the rising number of Americans receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations is counterbalancing the virus and its variants moving through the population. The COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be very protective against the “variants of concern,” which are designated as such, due to increased transmissibility or their ability to dampen the immune response. The two variants of concern first identified in South Africa and Brazil do share some of the same genetic changes that partially protect the viruses from the immune system’s fighters.  However, real-world studies have shown that the COVID-19 vaccines’ effectiveness against severe, critical or fatal disease due to infections with any of the variants is very high, at 97%.  As a result, getting vaccinated will protect against getting sick or transmitting disease if infected with any of the currently identified COVID-19 viruses. Still unclear is how well the vaccines protect people with weakened immune systems, and the length of time that vaccines can protect people.

The estimated two million shots given out nationally each day is a sharp decrease from the peak (3.4 million) a few weeks ago. Reasons why vary from short supplies in some areas, to access issues, to vaccine hesitancy. This is unfortunate since the data on the substantial impact these vaccines are having on the death rate grows by the day. The science proves these COVID-19 vaccines work exceedingly well to prevent death or serious illness from the virus, and we, along with public health departments and healthcare systems, will keep encouraging our community to receive them.

Have questions about masks? With more individuals receiving COVID-19 vaccines and more data available on the protection they provide, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) relaxed their masking guidelines for people who are fully-vaccinated. Fully-vaccinated means at least two weeks have passed since a person completed their vaccine series (two weeks after getting the second Pfizer or Moderna shot, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.) States and local jurisdictions like our own Santa Barbara County Public Health Department are all interpreting this new direction in different ways. The CDC did note that in healthcare facilities, everyone should still be wearing masks.  We will continue to require masks at our sites, along with screening at our entrances. A loosening of masking restrictions may feel like relief after a long wait, but we will lean on the cautious side for now in order to ensure the health and safety of our patients and our staff.  For more information on COVID-19, vaccines and testing, visit our website www.covid19.sansumclinic.org

Younger adolescents are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Federal agencies have officially cleared the Pfizer vaccine to include children ages 12 years and older. As a result, we will be directly communicating this week with parents of our patients’ age 12-17 years old via text message about scheduling vaccine appointments at our Vaccine Clinic.  Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine approved right now for youth this young, and they will need to be accompanied by an adult parent or guardian for their vaccine appointment. A consent form is required and will be provided in advance of the appointment. Vaccines will continue to be administered by appointment only, but we will try to accommodate any other eligible family members who would like to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. Vaccine appointments for anyone 12 years and older are also available from other community providers by visiting myturn.ca.gov  or by calling (833) 422-4255.

The use of our digital tools, especially our secure patient portal, MyChart, became even more essential to our operation during the pandemic. This month, we are upgrading our MyChart application which will alter its look and feel some, but the changes will most certainly improve your experience, whether you use MyChart from your computer or your mobile phone. User-friendly features now include:

  • New home page with expanded search capability and shortcuts to get you to the information you want most, like your upcoming visits, messages, test results and medications
  • Enhanced two-way messaging with your medical team
    • Ability to check your COVID-19 vaccination status or download a printable copy of your vaccination record
  • Online bill pay
  • Urgent Care appointment scheduling
  • E-Check-in to complete information prior to your visit

If you are not already on MyChart, this would be a great time to sign up by clicking HERE or by calling 805-893-3333.
 
The numbers of missed or delayed annual physicals and cancer screenings due to the pandemic are now quantified in the millions by medical researchers, some which were recently reported in the medical journal JAMA Oncology. This is a serious concern of our doctors and healthcare practitioners everywhere who understand the importance of these preventative appointments. Whether it be a mammogram, colonoscopy, regular blood tests and eye exams, or surveillance for chronic conditions like diabetes that got put on hold, we cannot stress enough how critical these screenings are to early detection and staying healthy. I encourage you to not delay scheduling them.  

As part of the Santa Barbara Healthcare Alliance, an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) through Medicare, Sansum Clinic along with other community healthcare providers want to remind our Medicare fee-for-service patients (and all our patients for that matter) to calendar their Annual Wellness Visits.  When you sign up for your Annual Wellness Visit, you receive the medical care you need, and we are better able to track our quality data, which allows us to improve the care we give both to individuals and the community.  

We are thankfully seeing positive signs on the horizon of a summer that may look much different than 2020. Many students will finish the year in classrooms, in-person graduations are planned, museums are reopening and businesses are gearing up for tourist season.  Our ability to help safeguard our community from COVID-19 is inextricably linked to these newfound freedoms.  We never could have reached this point, financially or operationally, without support from our grateful patients. Your interest in assisting our work at this critical time resulted in the Pandemic Relief Fund which enabled us to deal with the unique challenges and increased costs brought about by the pandemic. If you would like to support this effort, please click here to make a tax deductible gift.  

Our incredible team and extended family of patients have been the bedrock of a season we never could have predicted for our 100th year. We know you have a choice of where to receive your healthcare, and are thankful you selected Sansum Clinic. We are all still here for you, smiling under our masks.

 Kurt Ransohoff Signature
Kurt Ransohoff, MD, FACP
CEO, CMO
Sansum Clinic