200 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1400
Chicago, IL 60604
p 312.922.3815 / f 312.922.7449
>>> To safeguard everyone's health, we are NOT taking walk-in appointments at this time <<<
First, if you have symptoms of fever, cough, or other cold/flu symptoms, please call us at 312-922-3815 or send a message through MyChart before coming to the office. If you suspect that you have COVID-19 (the illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus), please contact us prior to coming in or going to the emergency room. For instance, contact us ahead of time if any of the following apply to you:
• If you have traveled to/from China, Iran, most European countries, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Israel, Malaysia, South Korea, or affected areas in the United States in the past month
• If you have attended any large gathering, conference, or event, especially if someone there tested positive for COVID-19
• If you had close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19
Contacting us in advance will let us care for you more effectively. We will be happy to arrange a timely telephone, video, or online consultation so that we can care for you in the safety and comfort of your own home if possible.
Call 911 for any medical emergency: call if you (or someone you are caring for) are very short of breath or working hard to breathe, look blue or ashen, feel extremely lightheaded (due to abnormally low blood pressure), or are minimally or not responding to you. Alert them if you or the person you are caring for have respiratory symptoms.
Second, if you are calling to schedule or coming to the office for an already scheduled appointment, you will be asked screening questions to see if you are having any symptoms, traveled in the past few weeks, or had close contact with a known, lab-confirmed case of COVID-19. Our staff will advise you on next steps so that we can coordinate your care. Please alert staff immediately and put on a face mask if you are experiencing any fevers, or have ANY symptoms of a cold, flu, or allergies (not just cough or shortness of breath).
As a precaution, we do have protective equipment to be used if there is a suspected case of COVID-19, and we continue to follow safety protocols recommended by the CDC. We continue to sanitize everything in our office regularly.
Let's all work together to keep everyone healthy, so please help us by following the following practices:
• Clean your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially before touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth. Wash them with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If there's nowhere to wash your hands, you can use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Use disinfectant to clean all surfaces that are touched or handled frequently. This includes your telephone, computers, tablets, keyboards, mice, door handles, and even sink or toilet handles.
• Follow the rules of Governor Pritzker's "stay-at-home" order, which will be in effect until at least April 7, 2020. To help prevent further spread of this virus, STAY AT HOME except for essential needs and activities. Afterwards, please continue social distancing by limiting situations where you could be exposed. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid large gatherings of people. Keep at least 6 feet away from others; avoid shaking hands or other direct physical contact. Limit face-to-face contact if possible: ask if you can work from home as much as possible, or substitute in-person meetings with phone calls or online conferencing.
• Postpone or reschedule all non-essential activities or appointments.
• Stay home if you are ill. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow (Dracula sneeze) to avoid transferring germs on your hands onto other surfaces. Wait until you no longer have a fever for at least 24 hours without taking any fever-reducing medications (such as Tylenol, Advil/Motrin/ibuprofen, or Aleve/naproxen) before returning to work or resuming your usual activities.
If you have already scheduled a non-essential appointment (such as an annual physical) and wish to postpone it at this time, we would be happy to work with you to find another time. Additionally, feel free to ask your doctor to see if non-urgent medical issues could be addressed through a phone, video, or online consultation.
Thank you for your trust and understanding in this matter to keep everyone safe and healthy. The health of you and your family are our utmost priority. We hear and understand the worry or anxiety people are feeling about the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why we will do our best to provide you with up-to-date, accurate information as best as we can.
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This information was last updated 3/22/2020. Information we know about the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving as we learn more about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which belongs to a family of viruses called coronaviruses. A lot of what doctors and researchers know about COVID-19 is based on what we know about coronaviruses, which often cause respiratory infections.
The website for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) publishes the most current information that is known at this time. Learn more about COVID-19 and its symptoms here:
You will also find more information here on the Northwestern Medicine website:
COVID-19 is the illness that is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the name of the specific coronavirus behind this pandemic. It is thought that 80% of people who fall ill with COVID-19 will experience symptoms that are similar to other viral respiratory infections (like colds) or influenza ("the flu"). These symptoms may include the following:
- Shortness of breath
These symptoms may be mild like any other cold or flu, but some people may develop more severe symptoms or complications. Again, from what has been learned from the initial 80,000 cases that were identified, it is believed that most symptoms are mild. You can learn more about symptoms and testing from the CDC, which also includes an interactive coronavirus symptom self-checker to see if you should seek medical care.
That being said, we know that COVID-19 may be some 10 times deadlier than influenza. Healthcare providers are trying to prioritize both testing and care to those who need it the most. There are risk factors for people to develop more severe illness. These are the people who should seek medical attention more quickly due to this higher risk:
- Older people
- People with chronic lung conditions (like COPD or emphysema)
- People with other chronic medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure
- People with weakened immune systems or who are taking medications to suppress their immune system
- Women who are pregnant
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU ARE CARING FOR IS VERY SHORT OF BREATH OR IS WORKING HARD TO BREATHE, IS MINIMALLY OR NOT RESPONDING TO YOU, LOOK BLUE OR ASHEN, OR HAS ABNORMALLY LOW BLOOD PRESSURE, CALL 911 TO GO TO NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM.
Otherwise, check out the following link to help determine when you should seek medical care:
Here's what the article says (in case you can't view the web page):
>>>I have fairly mild symptoms. Can I manage them at home?Not only can you self-manage from the comfort of your couch, but health officials want you to do so. You should stay home if your symptoms can be handled with over-the-counter cold and flu aids from your local drugstore.Evidence from the more than 80,000 coronavirus cases that have been reported in China indicates that about 80 percent of illnesses are mild. If everyone with a cold floods their local emergency rooms, it will be harder for health-care workers to treat patients who are critically ill. Plus, you could pick up the virus in the hospital if you don’t already have it.“If you feel well enough that if it weren’t for coronavirus you wouldn’t see a doctor, don’t see a doctor,” said Lauren Sauer, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine.I’m experiencing more serious symptoms. Should I see a doctor?It’s a good idea to call your primary-care doctor if you have both a fever and a cough, said Maria Raven, chief of emergency medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. And if you have shortness of breath, unremitting fever, weakness or lethargy, it’s definitely time to get in touch with a health-care professional, according to Adalja. Those could be signs of pneumonia, which is common in severe cases of coronavirus.To determine whether you’re lethargic or just tired, Adalja advises thinking about whether you’ve gotten a good amount of sleep. If you have, and you’re still unable to move at a normal speed or carry out your daily activities, you’re probably lethargic.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that you seek medical help if you recently traveled to a coronavirus-infected area or had close contact with a known infected person and have a fever, a cough or trouble breathing.Older people and those with underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are more at risk for severe illness. You should act quickly to seek medical attention if you fall into one of those categories and feel seriously unwell, Adalja said.I’ve decided to get medical care. Should I go to my primary-care physician, an urgent-care center or an emergency department?It depends. Most important, if you or someone you are caring for is very short of breath, is minimally responsive or unresponsive, looks blue or ashen, or has low blood pressure, Adalja said, you should call 911 immediately and travel by ambulance to an emergency room.Let’s say your symptoms are not that extreme. In that case, you may be well-served by a visit to your regular doctor’s office. If your situation feels more dire, you might want to go to urgent care or to an emergency department.Wherever you go, Adalja said, you should call ahead and tell them that you’re experiencing respiratory symptoms. That enables them to be ready to protect other patients when you arrive, such as by quickly outfitting you with a face mask or directing you to a separate section of the waiting room.When I go to see a doctor, will they test me for coronavirus?In addition to or before testing for coronavirus, doctors may test you for the flu or other respiratory viruses. A flu test requires that a health-care worker swab the inside of your nose or the back of your throat. Results can take anywhere from an hour to several hours, according to the CDC.Testing for coronavirus has been limited so far, but that’s changing now that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized certain hospital laboratories and commercial labs to use their own tests before the agency clears them. Previously, health-care workers could use only a CDC-created test that was distributed in a limited way and suspected to be faulty. Individual hospitals can now choose their own criteria for testing, and each is likely to do it differently.<<<
Please understand that if you have no symptoms of COVID-19, you will NOT be tested at this time. Testing is still being prioritized because of a limited supply of testing materials and personal protective equipment (PPE) in the United States. Additionally, there are limitations to the test itself. While a positive (abnormal) test means someone has COVID-19, getting a negative (normal) test result does not mean you will not develop COVID-19 after some exposure to the virus. A negative (normal) test only means the test did not detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus at the time the test was done. It could be negative (normal) because it was too soon after exposure, and the infection hasn't taken effect yet. It could also be negative (normal) because the sample collected wasn't good enough.
Testing is available through the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), certain hospital systems, and commercial labs. However, at this time, please help us save testing materials and PPE to allow testing where it would truly make a difference to be tested: for instance, in people who are sick enough to be admitted to hospital to know if they need to be kept on special isolation to protect other.
There is no specific treatment to cure COVID-19 at this time, but there are things that can be done to help with its symptoms (just like with other colds and the flu). However, if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, we ask that follow strict isolation procedures to prevent the spread to others around you.
It is very important to know how to protect yourself and others around you from getting ill. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets: someone who is sick launches droplets of saliva or mucus with live virus in the air when they cough or sneeze. It is thought that these droplets will quickly fall from the air within 6 feet of the person who coughed or sneezed. Being in close contact puts you at risk for breathing in or getting these droplets on you. We believe another way of people getting COVID-19 is from touching something that has the virus on it; recent studies show that the virus can be contagious on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to 3 days (if not disinfected).
There are ways to prevent getting this infection, which are similar to ways of preventing getting colds or the flu. The biggest is proper hand hygiene: clean your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially before you touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If you can't wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. If you need to cough or sneeze, try to do it into the crook of your elbow rather than on your hands (this is called the "Dracula sneeze").
Another big part of prevention is called "social distancing." This can help slow down the course of the pandemic so we don't overwhelm the healthcare system all at once. Currently, Illinois is under a "stay-at-home" order until at least April 7, 2020, that goes beyond social distancing. We recommend that you stay at home except for essential needs or activities. You can find more information about the order here:
If it is not safe for you to stay at home, you are urged to find another safer place to stay. Reach out or contact the domestic violence hotline at 877-863-6338 or contact local law enforcement.
When you do leave your home for essential needs or activity, continue social distancing practices at all times. Limit your exposure to the virus by staying away from situations where you could be exposed. For instance, avoid mass gatherings or crowds; if you need to go somewhere maintain at least 6 feet (two arm lengths) away from other people. Limit going on mass transit or ridesharing except for essential travel: when possible, walk or drive alone. Try to avoid touching things around you: avoid shaking hands or other direct physical contact. Limit face-to-face contact as much as possible: see if you can work from home as much as possible; substitute in-person meetings with phone calls or online conferencing services. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often; disinfect things that you touch commonly.
Here are things you can do to prevent getting/spreading COVID-19:
This is a very trying time, and feeling uneasy, anxious, worried is completely understandable. Make sure you are taking time to care for yourself. Check in with your friends and family by texting, calling, or setting up a video chat. Try relaxation techniques like yoga or mindful meditation. We encourage you to try to stay physically active indoors in your own home or outdoors. If you choose to go outdoors to exercise, still practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other peoples.
Finally, here is more information that may be useful about COVID-19:
For pregnant women:
If you are planning on traveling, the State Department has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory and advises all U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel. Here is more information to consider about travel within the United States:
As it states in the Washington Post article, if it is truly a medical emergency (where you are extremely short of breath or working hard to breathe, minimally responsive, look blue or ashen, or has low blood pressure) then you should call 911 to get transported to the closest hospital by ambulance. Time is of the essence in an emergency: sometimes the difference of several minutes can be a life-or-death difference. I am confident that all the major hospitals are equipped to help those in the event of a severe illness. Please note that your doctors at Michigan Avenue Internists all have privileges at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and on faculty at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.
Hope this helps answer your questions about this. Bottom line: stay at home except for essential needs and activities; take precautions like cleaning your hands thoroughly before you touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or face; limit potential exposures through social distancing; avoid close contact with others (limit hand-shaking, etc.).
Let us know if you have any further questions.
We have an exciting new change to announce with our Electronic Medical Record system. As of September 30th, we will be converting our electronic records to "EPIC" which is the same system that Northwestern Memorial Hospital uses. You will need to use MyChart for electronic communication now to communicate with your doctor. If you would like to activate MyChart, please visit the following website: https://myc.nm.org/MyChart/. If you need assistance setting up a MyChart account, please contact the Support Team at 855-457-6966. With MyChart, established patients can schedule appointments online with Dr Ballintine, Dr Connolly, Dr Desai, Dr Ng, Dr Sabin, and Dr Vermylen. We look forward to this transition in hopes of better streamlining your care with our office and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Serving the Chicagoland area for over forty years, we have a long and proud history of providing exceptional medical care to a wonderfully diverse patient population.
We are a group of ten physicians, all university-trained and board-certified.
Our physicians are all affiliated with Northwestern Memorial Hospital and actively participate in the education of medical students and residents from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.We are conveniently located in the heart of Chicago on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street across the street from the Art Institute.
Go to our Location & Parking page.
We are open Monday through Friday 8 am - 4:30 pm
Go to our Appointments page.