Navigating COVID-19

Riverside is committed to being here for you, and that means your health and safety are our priority. These FAQs are intended to answer common questions. If you have a concern that's not covered here, please reach out to Riverside Nurse 24/7 at 800-675-6368.

How can Riverside assure safety for patients and visitors?

Steps we are taking to keep you safe include health screening on arrival, hand sanitizer and face mask use, social distancing in waiting rooms and advanced high-level cleaning.

Should I wear a mask when I come to Riverside for care?

Yes, all patients and visitors will be asked to wear a cloth face covering brought from home. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided to you. If you are having an outpatient procedure, we will provide you with a clean procedure mask to wear before and after surgery.

How will Riverside keep its environments safe?

We have effective, standardized decontamination processes in place, including the use of EPA-approved virus-killing products to clean and disinfect exam rooms and high-touch areas. All our facilities follow CDC guidelines and government requirements.

How are Riverside team members protecting themselves at the same time they protect patients?

Masks are required for team members in patient care facilities, starting before they enter the building, through the workday, and until they exit. Lobby and common areas have limited seating that is spaced out to support social distancing. Registration and other transactional areas have Plexiglas to minimize contact, protecting patients, visitors and team members. Providers and staff wear the appropriate personal protective equipment in line with CDC guidelines. We also provide masks to any patients or visitors who arrive without one. All staff are self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms.

How will offices limit interaction with other people?

Inside our offices, we are doing everything we can to support social distancing, including spacing chairs at least 6 feet apart. After registering, patients may be asked to wait in their cars, and we will call or text you when it's time to go back for your visit.

Can I bring someone with me to my appointment?

Visitation is limited. If a family member or caregiver is necessary for some aspect of your care, they will be screened in the same way as patients. Please call your health care provider ahead of time to confirm visitation restrictions.

Is telehealth available if I feel that's a better option for me?

Yes, you now have the option of secure, private video visits with a primary care provider or specialist across Riverside Health System. All you need is a video-enabled device such as your smartphone or home computer. Most health insurances cover the cost associated with telehealth visits.

If you are interested in this option, contact your provider's office or call 757-534-5352. Our nurses and schedulers will help you determine the best setting of care to address your need. You can also send a video visit appointment request through MyChart. Click here to log in to MyChart.

Learn more about video visits by clicking here. 

What are the options for scheduling an appointment?

You can still schedule online via MyChart or by calling your provider’s office. Click here to log in to MyChart.

Are visitors allowed?

Guidelines vary, with one visitor allowed in most hospital settings. In office settings, a family member or caregiver may be able to accompany you if they are needed for some aspect of your care. All visitors will be screened and asked to wear a face covering or mask. Please call your health care provider ahead of time to confirm visitation restrictions. Learn more here.

Are there new pre-op instructions for surgery?

Patients will still undergo additional screening for COVID-19. You will also be given a procedure mask and provided with guidelines on effective hand sanitization. Hand sanitizer will be available. Wearing personal protective equipment — including masks, gowns and gloves — is business-as-usual for our surgical teams. However all other team members will also be wearing PPE in line with CDC guidelines.

Will all patients be tested before procedures?

No. We do not feel this is necessary since we are taking so many precautions to prevent the spread of any potential infection, including screening all patients for symptoms and providing personal protective equipment as recommended by the CDC. There are also concerns about the accuracy of the COVID-19 testing that's currently available.

Will COVID-19 patients be separated from other patients?

Yes. We are ensuring we have adequate staffing, equipment, medication and supplies so that we can continue to treat all COVID-19 patients in separate areas.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a range of symptoms including a runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever. Some are mild, such as the common cold, while others are more likely to lead to pneumonia. They're usually spread through direct contact with an infected person. Other well-known coronaviruses include SARS and MERS. The new virus is called COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 spread from person to person?

The evidence suggests person-to-person transmission most commonly happens during close exposure to a person infected with COVID-19, primarily through respiratory droplets produced when the infected person coughs or sneezes. Droplets can land in the mouths, noses or eyes of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs of those within close proximity. Airborne transmission from person-to-person over long distances is unlikely.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Once infected with coronavirus, there is an incubation period of 2-14 days. During this time, patients may be able to shed the virus but do not have any symptoms. Some patients will never develop symptoms. Of those who become ill, the majority of patients will develop fever, cough, and generalized malaise. They may have muscle aches or a sore throat. Most patients will recover, but some patients will develop more severe illness, including a viral pneumonia that can lead to respiratory failure and even death. Symptoms to watch for include fever, cough, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, body aches, sore throat or vomiting.

How do we determine when to test for COVID-19?

Testing may be appropriate if there are symptoms such as fever or signs of lower respiratory illness — ranging from cough or shortness of breath to more severe presentations such as pneumonia or ARDS without an alternative explanatory diagnosis. Testing is not being done because patients request it, but only if there is clinical and epidemiological criteria. Testing is not appropriate for anyone who is not showing symptoms, regardless of any other factors.

Is there a treatment?

There is no approved treatment for COVID-19. The focus is currently on supportive care, although efforts are underway to develop effective treatments.

Do people who are showing typical symptoms of COVID-19 need to be put in the hospital?

No, most people will not need hospital care. Most people will recover at home under self-quarantine. If symptoms substantially worsen, contact your doctor for guidance.

What if someone I care for may have COVID-19?

Please see our recommendations on caring for yourself and others.

Is there a COVID-19 vaccine?

No, although efforts are underway to develop a vaccine.

Can someone get COVID-19 multiple times in a season?

At this time, we don't know.

Are there other health conditions that put a person at higher risk if they develop COVID-19? Is there anything special these people need to know about avoiding COVID-19?

Health conditions that put a person at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. The CDC is advising people who are at higher risk to stay home if possible. Clean your hands often. Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If you have no access to soap and water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid close contact (6 feet, which is about two arm lengths) with people who are sick.

Do disinfectants kill COVID-19?

The CDC suggests that anyone exposed to an infected patient clean all high-touch surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.

I want to help in some way. What can I do?

We're thankful to have such a supporting and giving community. We have suggestions for how you can help and also ideas for donation of supplies.

Where can I get more information?

Learn more by visiting the CDC’s website at


If you have questions, reach out to your doctor's office or contact Riverside Nurse, a 24/7 resource, at 800-675-6368.