Petersburg Medical Center & COVID-19:
Frequently Asked Questions
Cases of COVID continue to be identified in Petersburg. Simple infection control practices help control spread: When ill, test and stay home, avoid poorly ventilated crowded spaces (indoors or outside), wear mask when around others not in your household, wash hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol based hand gel (at least 60% alcohol), and get vaccinated. Everyone working together can break the chain of infection to protect those who are at high risk of serious COVID-19 infections.
How do I get a vaccine?
Public Health offers vaccinations, call 907-772-4611 to make an appointment with the public health nurse.
How do I get a vaccine?
Public Health offers vaccinations, call 907-772-4611 to make an appointment with the public health nurse.
What COVID testing is available at PMC?
- The providers at PMC, the laboratory staff and pathologist recognize the importance of reliable laboratory test results and the impact of a positive test not only on a patient but for all of their contacts.
- PMC Laboratory uses a PCR platform by Cepheid.
- All positive tests resulted at PMC Laboratory are confirmed by an additional and more sensitive method at the State of Alaska Public Health Laboratory using high volume PCR testing. The methods in use at the Alaska State Public Health Laboratory are highly specific and sensitive, with a greater level of detection for the viral particles. Additionally, genomic sequencing of most positive samples allows the State of Alaska to monitor for variants of SARS Cov-2 virus. Because of the high degree of sensitivity and specificity of PCR methods, the possibility of a false positive is virtually non-existent.
- Antigen testing supplies are also available at several locations in Petersburg. For more information click here.
- Petersburg Medical Center offers COVID-19 antibody testing, which is a blood test that is processed out of state by Quest Laboratory. The test requires a provider order. At this time, antibody testing currently available may not indicate you are immune to COVID 19, it may only indicate if you have been exposed to a coronavirus and not specifically COVID-19 (SARS Cov-2).
Symptoms and testing
Who can be tested for COVID-19?
Call the Covid Information Line at 907-772-5788 to schedule a test. Testing is offered to:
• Anyone with any COVID-like symptom, or sudden onset of an unexplained symptom
• Anyone with a provider referral or for pre-procedure screening
• Critical Infrastructure worker
• Fisheries worker, cannery (Through Cannery Employee Safety Officer)
• Recent travel out of state
• Known exposure to a confirmed positive
What are the symptoms I should look for?
- Difficulty breathing, cough, fever, runny nose, headache, sore throat, body aches, diarrhea, rash, loss of appetite, loss of sense of smell or taste, or sudden onset of any unexplained symptom. You can check your symptoms here: https://c19check.com/start
- Uncertainty in the presentation of this virus is the danger of COVID-19. Viral shedding may vary with individuals and may impact how and when it is transmissible and detectable. With growing concern for variants, testing is very important to track and isolate cases. Family members can each have a different presentation, from no symptoms, all the way to those that require hospitalization. The most dangerous time of infection may be when no symptoms are present. This creates a potential for spreading the virus unknowingly.
I think I might have COVID-19 Symptoms!
Medical emergencies should still use the hospital’s emergency department, dial 911 if you need medical transport to the hospital. Please let the EMT’s know you are concerned about COVID.
Please call the COVID Information Line at 907-772-5788 before you come to the hospital or clinic. A nurse will ask you a few questions to determine the best “next steps” for you.
For information about symptom management at home click HERE.
Where do I go for testing?
People with symptoms must call the COVID Information Line at 907-772-5788. A nurse will review your symptoms with you to determine if you need to be seen right away through the emergency department or scheduling your test is a safe alternative. Testing is offered by appointment only. You will be provided with instructions on where to go for your test.
I do not have any symptoms; can I be tested?
If you have not traveled in the last seven days, call the COVID Information Line at 907-772-5788 to schedule an asymptomatic test (Option 3).
Walk up testing for travelers is available Monday through Saturday from NOON - 4:00 PM. Go to the Emergency Department entrance on Second Street. Testing is for travelers to Petersburg (Air, Ferry, Harbor) and for travel within Alaska (From Petersburg to another community). For more information, click HERE. For the most current CDC recommendations for testing, click HERE.
What type of sample is needed?
For most people, a nasal swab is collected from the front of your nose. If you have had symptoms for several days, you may need to have a nurse or physician collect a swab deeper into your nose. This is slightly uncomfortable however a better specimen in case you have a low viral load.
How long before I get results? How do I get my results?
Depending on the reason or urgency for testing results may be available within a few hours or up to 3 days. To conserve our resources, if you do not have symptoms and are not critical infrastructure or will be able to quarantine and we will send your specimen to a reference lab for testing. A physician will make the determination for the type of test that will be used.
Results will be available by accessing your PMC Patient Portal.
My test is negative. Now what?
- If your test is negative and you have respiratory symptoms, avoid work and group settings until three days after the last day of your respiratory symptoms and fever. If your symptoms worsen, call the COVID information line for an additional evaluation.
- A negative home antigen test may ONLY indicate you did not have enough viral particles present to signal a positive result. If your antigen test is negative, and you still have symptoms, you are encouraged to retest with the second test device in your kit 36 – 72 hours later. If you have no symptoms and your second test is negative, continue monitoring for symptoms as the rate of infection in our community is still elevated. If you have not been directed by public health or your provider to quarantine or isolate and you are not a close contact, you may resume normal activities. Consider masking, physical distancing and hand washing as normal activities.
- Fully vaccinated and known exposure to a confirmed case, you do not need to quarantine however do monitor for any symptoms for the full 10 days after exposure.
- If you develop symptoms at any time, even the day after any negative test, call the COVID information line. Individuals who develop symptoms compatible with COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, should be evaluated by a healthcare provider and tested as appropriate.
- For information about antigen testing available in Petersburg, click HERE.
- A positive test indicates you have the COVID-19 virus. If you do not have symptoms, you can still spread the virus to others. It is important to stay home and stay away from others.
- If you had a PCR test through PMC, answer you phone. A PMC provider or nurse will contact you and review your symptoms and provide further instructions. Ask about therapy options.
- If your home antigen test is positive, call the COVID information line to speak to a nurse. You should consider a PCR test to be excluded for future testing or quarantine requirements. (e.g. travel requirements). The nurse will also discuss treatment options with you.
- Notify your close contacts. Phone your friends or visit https://tellyourcontacts.org/ Early notification to people who may have been exposed allows them to quarantine before they become infectious. Even before public health contacts you, begin the process by notifying your close contacts and let them know they will need to quarantine at home. A close contact means sharing air with someone for more than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period.
- Alaska COVID ENX (also known as Alaska COVID Exposure Notifications) is a free tool that works on smartphones to alert users if they may have been exposed to COVID-19 without sharing any personal information. It is completely private and doesn’t know who you are or track where you go. This link will give you instructions to add this feature on your phone.
How much is the test?
There will be NO out of pocket costs for testing.
In some situations, commercial insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid may be billed for testing.
People without insurance will not be charged for testing.
Patients, residents and their visitors
Are visitors allowed at the hospital?
Visitors to patients and residents are welcome! We ask you to please call the hospital 907-772-5740 before coming to visit someone in the hospital or in Long Term Care. Visitors will be screened at the ER Department entrance on 2nd Street, visitors over the age of two will be required to wear a mask in all public areas but may take masks off in room if both visitor and patient or resident are vaccinated.
What if I need medical care for something unrelated to COVID-19?
From wellness exams and vaccinations to screening mammograms, we are now scheduling appointments for routine care. Expect universal masking, being screened at the entrance and new precautions. In some situations, you will be tested for COVID-19 prior to your appointment.
If cases increase in the community, we may alter our operations, keep in mind our first priority is your safety!
If there are concerns for COVID-19 symptoms, patients will be treated in a way to protect them and our staff. All patients will be kept isolated from those being seen for COVID-19.
All PMC providers now offer telehealth and/or in person visits. For more information call the clinic at 907-772-4299.
Will I be safe coming to the hospital or clinic?
PMC is taking all the necessary precautions to protect you. When you call for an appointment our registration staff will ask several questions about your symptoms and travel history. This will determine the time and location of your appointment. You will also be provided instructions for how and where to enter the building. When you arrive for your appointment, you will be asked to wait in your car until escorted into the facility. You will be provided a mask and be taken to your appointment location (bypassing the waiting area). You will notice all hospital employees and visitors will be wearing masks. If you feel uncomfortable wearing one, please let us know! Children under two will never be masked. Masks, spacing appointments farther apart and avoiding waiting rooms allows us to protect you and our staff.
Protecting myself, protecting those around me
How do I learn if there are positive cases in Petersburg or elsewhere in Alaska?
State of Alaska Dashboard is at least weekly. https://coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com/
If you are traveling, search for the COVID information for the state or country you will be visiting.
I do not feel sick; do I still need to wear a face covering in public?
Even people who have no symptoms whatsoever may be infected with the virus and capable of transmitting the virus to others when interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing. The CDC has information for people who are up-to-date on their COVID vaccine. CDC recommends masking when indoors where spaces are small, crowded or with poor ventilation. Face coverings minimize transmission while around others who are vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness. Masks are not recommended for children under two years of age.
What is the difference between Quarantine and Isolation?
For current recommendations from CDC for quarantine and isolation click HERE.
Quarantine is for people who are not sick but may have been exposed to COVID-19 either a known contact or from an unknown source. Traveling from areas where there is community transmission puts a person at an increased risk for having exposure. Since COVID-19 symptoms may not appear for up to 14 days, plan to quarantine in a location with limited access to others in the home, monitor for symptoms and do not leave the home except for medical treatment. If you were tested because of symptoms and did not have contact with anyone with COVID-19, you may be released from Quarantine. Your COVID Hotline nurse will provide guidance to you.
Isolation is for people who are sick and either have COVID-19 or are waiting for a test result. If the test is negative, they should still stay home until all symptoms have disappeared, guidance is available through the COVID Hotline at 907-772-5788.
Where can I get more information?
You can also follow us on Facebook @PetersburgMedicalCenter or explore the following resources:
Centers for Disease Control
State of Alaska COVID-19
Borough of Petersburg COVID-19