COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Appointments and Research
Yes. If you need care, don’t hesitate to call your doctor’s office or contact them through My Health Online. Our employees and healthcare teams are ready to serve you and look forward to providing care, either in person or by Video Visit.
If you have a chronic condition like diabetes or have needs related to ongoing treatment, don’t wait to contact your care team for appointments. Delaying care can be dangerous. To avoid unwanted outcomes and complications, call your doctor’s office or send your care team a message through My Health Online.
To reduce the risk of spread, we’re continuing to take extra precautions at our sites, including universal masking, physical distancing, screening of our workforce and visitors, and enhanced cleaning. See our safety steps.
We’re taking extra precautions to help keep you safe. We continue to monitor surges, personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory and testing capability. Currently, we’re scheduling elective surgeries.
COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for anyone age 5 and over. To learn more about the vaccines and how to book a vaccination appointment, please visit COVID-19 Vaccine Resources.
We’re committed to the health and safety of our patients, employees and the communities we serve. Our workforce is required to comply with our workforce vaccination policy and the statewide health order by being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including receiving boosters by March 1, 2022, with some limited, legally required exceptions.
Patient and Visitor Information
We know family and friends play an important role in the well-being of our patients and are considered an essential part of the care team. We have opened up to visitors based on the current level of COVID in our communities. Hospital visitation policies may be adjusted at any time, depending on changing COVID-19 conditions and state health orders. Please confirm visitation rules, including specific visiting hours, with your local hospital.
Please take note of the following information:
- Masks are required in healthcare settings for everyone 2 years and older regardless of vaccine status.
- All visitors must pass symptom screening and follow all masking and other infection control measures. Visitors with COVID, or COVID symptoms, are not allowed.
- Visitor use of dining services varies by hospital. Visitors or support persons should remain in patient rooms whenever possible, and exit/re-entry is discouraged. Support persons shouldn’t congregate in waiting rooms, hallways or cafeterias.
Telephone or video conference is available to support patients, family and friends. If you need assistance with setting up a telephone or video conference visit, our staff can help you.
During respiratory virus season (typically November through May), visitor restrictions apply in certain areas of our hospital to help protect our patients:
- Labor and delivery, including all mother and baby units: Healthy visitors 6 years and older allowed
- Neonatal ICU (NICU): Healthy visitors/support persons 18 years and older allowed
- Pediatric ICU (PICU): Healthy visitors/support persons 18 years and older allowed
Please confirm specific visitation rules, including age requirements and visiting hours with your local hospital.
Thank you for your understanding. We appreciate your help with protecting patients and staff.
General Visitation for Hospital Patients Without COVID-19
Type of Patient Number of Visitors Allowed Emergency Department Up to 2 visitors/support people may be present at the same time. Obstetrics and Maternity 2 visitors/ support people (or more if hospital/space allows) may be present at the same time, including doula/birth coach. Neonatal ICU (NICU) 2 support people may be present at the same time. Pediatric ICU (PICU), Pediatrics 2 support people may be present at the same time. Adult Inpatients 2 visitors/ support people (or more if hospital/space allows) may be present at the same time. Surgeries and Procedures 1 to 2 visitors/support people allowed in pre-procedural and post-procedural areas.
General Visitation for Hospital Patients With COVID-19
Type of Patient Number of Visitors Allowed Emergency Department 1 visitor/support person allowed Obstetrics and Maternity 2 visitors/support people allowed at the same time, including doula/birth coach Neonatal ICU (NICU), Pediatric ICU (PICU), Pediatrics 2 designated support people, and they must be primary caregivers. May be present at the same time. Adult Inpatients 1 to 2 visitors/support people allowed at the same time Surgeries and Procedures 1 visitor allowed to wait in designated areas (not allowed in pre-procedural or postprocedural areas).
We’re taking precautions to help keep you safe.
Contact-free check in is available through My Health Online. Activate this feature in your My Health Online app by using the E-Z Arrival option before your appointment. The app will notify our staff that you’ve arrived, so you can limit or skip time in the waiting areas.
We’re also taking measures beyond symptom screening. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is isolated, every exam room is disinfected thoroughly between patients, and we’re using physical distancing protocols everywhere possible. See our safety steps.
Sutter hospitals, outpatient clinics and doctors’ offices are taking the following safety measures to help protect patients, staff and communities:
- Visitors must pass screening for COVID symptoms at entrances. Visitors and caregivers who have COVID, or COVID symptoms, are not allowed.
- Masks are required for everyone two years and older in healthcare settings regardless of vaccine status.
- Lobbies and waiting areas are modified for physical distancing.
- Every exam room undergoes extra cleaning between patients.
- We’re isolating patients with respiratory symptoms from the general population.
- Our workforce is required to be fully vaccinated, including a booster dose, with some limited, legally required exceptions.
- All patients are permitted two support persons to accompany them to an appointment or procedure. This includes a support person to assist with walking or moving around.
- Two primary caregiver per pediatric patient is allowed at appointments or procedures.
- Surgery centers may allow two support person to wait in designated areas.
- Review our patient and visitor guidelines, listed above.
- Please confirm visitation rules with your local hospital or doctor’s office.
If you’re admitted to a Sutter hospital, you’ll be screened and tested for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. COVID-19 testing may be required before certain procedures. If testing is required, your provider will contact you with instructions.
Yes, in alignment with California public health guidelines, masks are required in healthcare settings for everyone 2 years and older regardless of vaccine status. Everyone — patients, staff and visitors — must continue to wear face coverings in healthcare settings, even those who are fully vaccinated and boosted. Procedure masks are preferred and are available at Sutter facilities. Valved masks are not allowed.
We appreciate your help in maintaining safe patient care.
Exceptions to mandatory masking include:
- Anyone who has trouble breathing or has been advised not to wear a mask.
- Anyone who is incapacitated or can’t remove a mask without assistance.
- Children under the age of 2.
Due to COVID-19, we have additional safety efforts in place to protect you, your loved ones and our healthcare providers. Review our resources for pregnancy and childbirth during COVID-19.
Screening and Testing
Sutter is following CDC, local and county public health guidelines on who should be tested for COVID-19. Generally, this includes patients with one or more of the following symptoms:
- Fever over 100°
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
At-home antigen tests are available through retail pharmacies and the federal government.
Symptom Evaluation and Testing
If you have COVID-19 symptoms and think you should be tested, try these options:
- Call or message your doctor directly.
- Consider scheduling a Video Visit with your doctor or a Sutter Walk-In Care clinician through My Health Online.
- Use our COVID-19 Screener to help determine next steps.
If you don’t have a My Health Online account, you can enroll online. If you’re not able to have a Video Visit, your doctor can tell you how to get evaluated.
Recommendations on testing may differ by county. Please contact your doctor or check your county’s website for more information.
All patients admitted to a Sutter hospital will be tested for COVID-19.
A PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is the most common type of test used to determine whether a person has COVID-19. A healthcare provider administers a PCR test by taking a nose or throat swab from a patient, processing the sample in a machine, and then looking for indications of COVID-19 infection. At Sutter, most specimens will be collected by nasal swab.
Once you arrive at a site, you may be asked to wait in your car and call a phone number to alert staff, who will provide guidance and coordinate collecting a test sample. Some sites offer testing right from your car.
You will be informed of the results, and if your test is positive, your provider will arrange for any care you may need.
Additional community resources for testing may be available in your area:
- State of California COVID-19 testing and treatment information.
- At-home antigen tests are available at most retail pharmacies and through the federal government.
Molecular tests, including the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, are very sensitive. They can detect small amounts of genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. Molecular tests are best for diagnosis but results usually take a lot longer compared to an antigen test. PCR tests can still show positive results for many weeks after a patient is no longer considered contagious. Therefore, they’re less useful in determining whether someone can return to school or work.
Antigen tests detect bits of the protein from a virus but are less sensitive than a molecular test. They’re not as good at picking up infections early in the disease process, resulting in some false negative results. But antigen tests are reliable when a person has symptoms of COVID-19 and a positive test. The best times to use antigen tests are when results are needed quickly and for return to school or work requirements. They’re now widely available over the counter at retail pharmacies. Beginning in early 2022, the federal government began providing free at-home antigen tests in the U.S. Review the CDC’s self-testing guidance.
A COVID-19 (PCR) test shows whether a person is currently infected. An antibody test indicates whether a person has antibodies for COVID-19 because they’ve been exposed to the virus or previously infected.
Sutter will not collect patient cost shares (e.g., a copay, deductible and co-insurance) in advance of providing services for medically necessary COVID-19 screening and test collection administered at Sutter care centers.
Your final out-of-pocket cost or responsibility for this test and visit to your provider may be affected by factors such as the mix of services, your deductible, past performed services and the claims already processed related to your care or your family's care. Please check with your insurance company if you need help understanding your benefits for this service.
The cost to you for this test without insurance depends on the test performed.
Test Patient Responsibility COVID-19 Antibody $52 COVID-19 Detection by High Throughput Technology $80 COVID-19 Detection by Nucleic Acid (DNA or RNA) $55
Sign in to My Health Online and tap Your Menu. When the menu appears, tap COVID-19 under My Record and you’ll find results of past COVID-19 tests as well as your COVID-19 vaccine information. If you need to share your test results or vaccination status, you can take a screenshot, download or print a copy, or generate a scannable QR code.
Did you get vaccinated outside of Sutter Health? You can add your vaccination information in your My Health Online record.
Find out more or watch our instructional videos: