Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Thank you for the opportunity to provide your reproductive care. As we monitor global and local developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), our priority at The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services (CARS) remains the health and safety of our patients and staff, as well as providing you with a positive experience.  To comply with guidance from the CDC, WHO, and local public health authorities, we are enhancing our screening policies.  These safety precautions will be reviewed by our medical advisory board daily.

Latest: Update May 3, 2021

Effective Wednesday, May 19 the governor is lifting all COVID 19 business restrictions in CT. Since late March there has been no travel ban.

In recognition of this, and in an abundance of caution, attached find our revised COVID 19 Mitigation and Travel Policy. Please take the time to read it. Below are highlights. These changes will be effective as of Monday, May 24, 2021.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Operational updates:

The following COVID mitigation practices will continue until further notice:

Virtual waiting room program [patients wait in cars and are texted in}

  • Virtual New Patient visits.
  • SA produced at home [unless > hour away]
  • Front door screening and temps
  • Scheduled appointments only. No walk-in scans or bloods
  • Virtual follow up visits.
  • No children
  • Continue weekly testing for unvaccinated staff.

However, the following restrictions will be LIFTED:

  • Prohibition on partners. Allow partners [or another family member] in for all live visits. However, PACU is still off limits to partners per anesthesia. No children under any circumstances.
  • Start allowing satellite patients in IF patient was a past patient of CARS.

All of the guidelines outlined in this document are subject to change based upon new local, state and federal recommendations.

COVID-19 vaccination program

  • CARS employees are strongly encouraged to obtain the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. At this time, it is not a requirement. However, those employees who have not received the vaccine may be asked to undergo serial COVID-19 testing at the cost of CARS.

Addendum to CARS COVID-19 Management and Mitigation:

Travel to States listed on CT Travel Advisory List

Mandatory travel restrictions have been lifted in the state of CT, as of March 19, 2021. However, travel advisories remain in effect from both the state and the CDC. With that in mind, while CARS has modified its travel policy for both staff and patients, restrictions will remain in place in order to maintain the safety of the practice.

For all employees and patients:

Any domestic or international travel will require COVID-19 testing within 3 days of return and prior to entry into CARS.

This policy does not apply to travel to any state that borders CT including MA, NY and RI. No testing is required after travel to these states.

This policy applies to all employees and patients regardless of vaccination status.

Previous Updates

March 9, 2021

Due to lower COVID rates in CT and in keeping with new state guidelines effective March 19, 2021, effective Monday, March 22 we are welcoming partners back into our offices for IUIs, pregnancy scans, retrievals and transfers only. This does not include the PACU area.

March 5, 2021

In light of the new CT Covid Guidelines released by Governor Lamont to go into effect on March 19th, the Center’s leadership is meeting next week to interpret the updated guidelines in the context of our own COVID policies and procedures. Allowing partners back into the building is at the top of our list.

February 22, 2021

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.

December 16, 2020

We are all excited about the recent developments and promise regarding Covid 19 vaccines. These vaccines have not been extensively studied in pregnant women. However the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology [ACOG] is recommending that for Health Care Workers [HCWs] who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant the vaccine should not be withheld.

The vaccine may have side effects including chills, muscle aches, possible “fever” (3 % incidence of fever after first injection and 15 % incidence of fever after the second injection) lasting up to 3 days. If you chose to take the vaccine and develop  a fever (100 degrees or higher); per CARS COVID 19 screening policy you will not be allowed in a CARS office as we will be unable to ascertain if the fever is the result of vaccine reaction or an actual COVID infection. This may result in your treatment and/or cycle being postponed or cancelled.

Therefore, it is ultimately your choice to take the Covid 19 vaccine during fertility treatment, however you must understand a possible reaction may be cause for us to postpone your treatment or cancel your cycle.  Another choice for patient’s choosing to be vaccinated is to postpone fertility treatment until completion of the 2 step vaccine process. Thank you.

Statement from the ASRM (American Society of Reproductive Medicine

With news of the FDA emergency use authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine, ASRM released a new statement from its COVID-19 Task Force, and joined with other OB/GYN organizations on a statement. Click here for full statement from ASRM

The ASRM COVID-19 Task Force statement emphasizes the importance of shared decision making between patients and their physicians but is very clear that, “The Task Force does not recommend withholding the vaccine from patients who are planning to conceive, who are currently pregnant, or who are breastfeeding (1,2,3) and encourages patients undergoing fertility treatment to receive vaccination based on current eligibility criteria.”

The report also states that virus mitigation strategies, such as universal masking, physical distancing and reducing social interactions must be followed even though some people now have access to a vaccine.

In addition, the statement addresses head-on a piece of misinformation which has been circulated by antivaccine ideologues and states that the mRNA vaccines “are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies.”

ASRM also joined with the American College of OB/GYNs, the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, the Society for Gynecological Oncology and the AAGL in a joint statement from the OB/GYN community. It too emphasizes access to the vaccine for pregnant and lactating women and the importance of decisions about the vaccine being made by patients and their physicians.

November 24, 2020

On the day of IVF Baseline, you must schedule COVID test [Rapid or PCR] for stimulation day 4 of your cycle to ensure we receive results prior to Trigger day [day of HCG shot]. This link is an up-to-date list of testing sites in CT  If we do not have a negative COVID test on file done between day 4 and Trigger day [day of HCG shot] the retrieval will be canceled. If you have any questions please call your Center nurse.

Due to rising COVID rates in CT, effective November 24, we are no longer allowing partners into our offices. We will do our best to keep partners involved via virtual calls, cell phones, and Facetime. This includes children and other family members as we focus on limiting traffic thru the offices to protect other patients and staff.

November 10, 2020

If you are a New Patient your first visit will be a virtual TEAMS meeting.  For patients needing to come into the office to maintain social distancing and control traffic thru the building, we are asking patients to remain in their car until we are ready for their visit to start. Once you arrive at the office parking lot, please text your name only to one of the numbers below. A member of the staff will call you to begin the check-in process and/or text when you may enter the building. Please have your insurance card and identification readily available.

Farmington                             860 470 4679

Hartford & New London         860 704 9160

Branford                                 860 704 9221

Resuming Operations

On behalf of The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services [CARS], we hope in the midst of these challenging times this letter finds you and your family safe and healthy.  As Connecticut has remained fairly stable with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are writing to tell you about fertility treatments at CARS at this time.

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 October, 2020:

  • We are currently at 100% of normal volumes for IUI & IVF and continue to carefully track CT COVID -19 data, internal mitigation systems and our inventory of PPE.
  • Maintain strong social distancing standards for patients and staff.
  • Have implemented strong personal protective equipment [PPE] and mitigation strategies to limit risk of exposure for patients & staff.
  • We are welcoming partners into the building for retrievals, transfers, pregnancy scans, IUIs and whenever translation services are needed. Unfortunately, at this time we are not allowing partners in the pre/post anesthesia care unit area [PACU]. Children and other family members are not allowed in the offices at this time.

Next Steps

  • We are making daily/weekly changes to COVID – 19 policies based on the current tri-state travel bans.
  • We are experiencing a major backlog of IVF treatment cycles and are doing our best to meet everyone’s scheduling needs.

Practicing medicine, especially fertility treatments, in a COVID – 19 world is going to look and feel very different than it did a month ago. There are a number of interventions we are implementing as part of our efforts to keep everyone safe.

Patient Visits

  • 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.
  • MD clinic visits on site will be limited to ultrasounds, procedures, emergencies, and clinical follow up appointments for telehealth patients.
  • Every attempt will be made for onsite visits to be as efficient as possible. There will be limited on-site counseling and instructions. Discussions can occur immediately following your visit with a call from your car or we can call you later when you’ve arrived home. Our doctors and nurses will have access to Microsoft TEAMS for video conferencing.
  • Semen analysis appointments 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.
  • 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 once we go back up will be 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.

Health Screening

Staff and patients are asked about relevant exposure and health information upon entry into the offices daily and temperatures are being assessed. All staff and patients 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.

COVID 19 Testing for IVF patients

This is a fluid situation due to availability of tests and timely results. As of 5/19/20, we are requiring IVF patients to have at least one COVID 19 negative test between Baseline and day of Retrieval. Our staff will provide you with testing site options [including at The Center] 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.

IVF Baseline Patients

Please be sure to obtain Rapid COVID 19 test on day of IVF Baseline or day after to ensure we receive results prior to Retrieval day. This link is an up-to-date list of Rapid Testing sites in CT If you have any questions please call your Center nurse.

Also, all semen samples must be produced at home with approved collection kits unless living greater than 60 minutes away. For instructions on how to pick up your kit or if male partner lives greater than 60 minutes away please contact your nurse. Thank you.

Patients/residents of banned state traveling to CT:

According to CT DPH guidelines:

  • Patients traveling to CT for less than 24 hours are exempt from the quarantine/PCR test policy.
  • Patients traveling to CT for 24hrs or greater must quarantine or obtain PCR test within 72 hours before arriving to CT. However, they may leave quarantine for medical appointments.

CARS will monitor positivity rates for neighboring states on a weekly basis. For neighboring states on the banned list with a positivity rates </= to CT, patients will be treated the same as CT patients.

If a neighboring states positivity rate jumps to be significantly higher than CT’s we will implement additional mitigation strategies for patients from that state. Staff will be notified in the event this happens.

Patients will be asked about any recent travel as part of the COVID-19 screening process prior to entry into any CARS facilities.

Patients/residents of CT traveling to banned states:

According to CT DPH guidelines:

Patients traveling to banned states for less than 24 hours are exempt from quarantine/PCR policy.

Patients traveling to banned states for work who are critical infrastructure workers are exempt from quarantine/PCR policy.

Patients traveling to a banned state for a period greater than 24 hours are subject to 14 day self-quarantine or a negative PCR test within 72 hours prior to their return to CT or a negative PCR anytime following their arrival in CT.

CARS will monitor positivity rates for neighboring states on a weekly basis. For neighboring states on the banned list with a positivity rates </= to CT, patients will be treated the same as CT patients.

If a neighboring state’s positivity rate jumps to be significantly higher than CT’s we will implement additional mitigation strategies for patients from that state. Staff will be notified in the event this happens.

Patients must be asked about any recent travel as part of the COVID-19 screening process prior to entry into any clinical CARS facilities.

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.



Coronavirus Fact Sheet

Handwashing and sanitizer videos from the Center for Disease Control  [CDC]