On behalf of The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services [CARS], we hope during these challenging times this letter finds you and your family safe and healthy. As Connecticut’s daily COVID positivity rate is returning to 5% or less, we are writing to tell you about fertility treatments at CARS currently.
At each CARS office, policies & procedures have been implemented to optimize physical distancing and other mitigation strategies to minimize risk of exposure for patients and staff. As of February 18, 2022:
- We are currently running at 100% of IVF and IUI capacity with no cycle restrictions. We continue to carefully track CT COVID -19 data, internal mitigation systems and our inventory of PPE.
- Maintain social distancing standards for patients and staff.
- Maintain personal protective equipment [PPE] and mitigation strategies to limit risk of exposure for patients & staff.
- 97% of our staff have received their first and second COVID 19 vaccinations and are boosted. Those who are not vaccinated are on a weekly COVID 19 testing schedules.
Effective Friday, February 18, 2022
- All CARS facilities will continue to require ALL patients to always wear masks.
- Partners are welcomed to join patients for on site visits. Partners must be masked.
- All patient consults will continue to be remote via TEAMS. For New Patients a nurse will call you prior to your visit.
- All live appointments will continue to be scheduled only. No walk ins. This includes Quest blood draws.
- PACU [retrieval & transfer areas] continues to be closed to partners and family members.
- Anesthesia guidelines for IVF retrieval remain unchanged.
- Men will continue to produce sperm specimen at home unless living > 1 hour away. Community patient service for semen analysis is resumed at this time.
- Please arrive as close to your scheduled time as possible to control patient traffic thru the offices. Please be aware, for morning monitoring patients will be checked in and brought back based on their scheduled time and not the time of arrival to practice.
- Patient screening will occur at each clinical entrance:
- Do you have any cold or flu symptoms?
- Have you traveled internationally?
To achieve this a thermometer will be relocated at each clinical entry way. Whoever brings patient into clinical area will screen patient according to aforementioned.
The only travel we are concerned with at this time for patients is international travel. If a patient travels internationally we will require negative COVID test 72 hours before or after arriving back to CT.
Practicing medicine, especially fertility treatments, in a COVID – 19 world is very different than a year ago. There are several interventions we are continuing as part of our efforts to keep everyone safe.
- All patients visiting CARS must be scheduled at a specific time. This includes morning ultrasound and blood monitoring, and Quest blood draws throughout the day. No more walk ins of any kind.
- If you need to change the time you are scheduled for your monitoring blood work or ultrasound, please contact the front desk.
- All new patient visits, IVF consultations [1B] and established subsequent office visits continue to be telehealth via Microsoft TEAMS.
- Semen analysis appointments for CARS patients will be scheduled and patients asked to produce at home. Specimen collection kits will be provided to patients in advance via a repository by front doors at each office. Male partners must personally deliver semen specimens to practice. Community semen analysis service is resumed at this time.
- Please stay in contact with us and call your nurse or financial services representative [FSR] when you intend to start a cycle. Your physician team will review your personal case and follow up with next steps.
- All patients undergoing care are required to provide an active credit card on file so we can run co-pays, deductibles, etc so front desk and financial staff are protected from handling credit cards, money, checks, etc.
Patients are asked about symptoms and travel history upon entry into clinical areas and temperatures are being assessed. All patients and partners must wear a mask at all time when in our offices. If you have a mask at home [homemade cloth masks are fine] we ask that you use it or one will be provided.
Satellite patient services are suspended at this time.
COVID 19 Testing for IVF patients
We are requiring IVF patients have at least one COVID 19 negative test between Baseline and day of Retrieval [preferably stim day 4/5]. Our staff will provide you with testing site options and instructions on the day of Baseline. Any patients testing COVID 19 positive during an IVF cycle will be managed on a case per case basis.
Fertility Treatments and COVID 19 Vaccine
We are all excited about the recent developments and promise regarding Covid 19 vaccines. These vaccines have not been extensively studied in pregnant women. As vaccines become more widely available, a practical question has arisen regarding the timing of vaccine administration with respect to certain invasive reproductive care treatments. In general, it is recommended that: Patients scheduled for elective surgery or outpatient procedures, including oocyte retrieval, embryo transfer, and intrauterine insemination, avoid COVID-19 vaccination at least three days prior and three days after their procedure. This recommendation is not because being vaccinated is unsafe, but rather because known side effects of the vaccine may impact intra-operative and post-surgical monitoring. Common side effects after COVID-19 vaccination, especially after the second dose, include fever, chills, fatigue, myalgia, and headaches, which typically occur and resolve within three days. Anesthesia impairs normal thermoregulatory control and may be impacted by pre-existing fever. Additionally, these side effects would make it difficult to determine if a post-procedure fever is related to the vaccine or to a developing infection related to the procedure. Finally, many medical facilities may not allow patients into their facility or proceed with any elective procedure if a patient has COVID-like symptoms, including those that are possible side-effects of the vaccine, even if their COVID-19 test is negative. Practices should notify and encourage their patients to communicate with their surgeons and fertility programs when they become eligible for COVID vaccination. This will help coordinate planned surgical procedures, fertility testing and treatment, and will decrease the chance of inadvertent procedure cancellation.
We will get thru this together.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding during this time of uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things including the way we practice fertility medicine, but one thing that has not changed is our commitment to helping our patients build families. We have been thinking about you during this difficult time and eagerly look forward to safely making your family building dreams come true. If you have any questions or concerns please contact Paul Verrastro, CARS CEO at 860.321.7082, EXT 8005.
Thank you for your continued support