COVID-19/Coronavirus Information

Updated March 27, 2020

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, Fenway Health is monitoring the latest guidance from the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide updated information as it becomes available. There are many competing sources of information. For now, these are the most comprehensive and scientific guidance we can find.

Learn the facts about COVID-19 and help stop the spread of misinformation. Visit CDC’s webpages Share the Facts, Stop the Fear and coronavirus.gov.

We are working closely with area medical facilities such as Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to remain on top of the COVID-19 situation. As things evolves, we will continue to update you through our website, through e-mail communication, in our patient portal, and via our social media outlets.

We’re ready to help:

  • Our phones and emails are staffed by people who know how to start assessing your risk and answering your questions.
  • We have specially trained clinical teams who evaluate all people with a high risk of COVID-19 exposure or disease by phone or in person.
  • Although testing options are ramping up quickly across the state, we do not expect to offer testing soon. Currently all testing in Massachusetts is through the DPH. We will keep you informed about testing options and recommendations as they arise.
  • We assess our systems and plans daily to meet changing needs and reports.

If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel if you have or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a face mask before emergency medical services arrive.

Stay informed! Here are some additional online resources.

Across all departments, we are reducing the number of face-to-face encounters with patients and clients. In particular, we are making specific determinations about which services will continue to be available at Fenway locations, which services may be performed remotely (e.g., by telephone or via other technology), and which non-urgent services may be postponed or cancelled in the short-term.

All staff, clients, patients, vendors, and other visitors will participate in a brief screening protocol immediately upon entry to any Fenway Health location.

At this time, Fenway Health is NOT able to test patients for COVID-19. Although testing options are ramping up quickly across the state, we do not expect to offer testing soon. Currently there are many hospitals, clinics and drive thru sites that are able to complete testing and all positive results are being reported to the Department of Public Health (DPH). We will keep you informed about testing options and recommendations as they arise. We have specially trained clinical teams that evaluate all people with a high risk of COVID-19 exposure or disease by phone.

Yes. Fenway Health is working to reduce the number of in-person visits to our facilities in order to best protect patients and staff from COVID-19. However, we are still seeing patients on a reduced operating schedule. We encourage patients to use the available telehealth options, as noted in the below FAQ response about our hours of operation.

Because of the decreased volume of patients we will be seeing face-to-face, we are changing the clinical hours of operation at our 1340 Boylston Street and Fenway: South End locations as follows:

Medical & Nursing Departments

  • 1340 Boylston Street (Ansin Building)
    Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:30 pm
    Saturday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

If you need to schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment with a medical provider for either a new issue or to follow up regarding an existing condition, please do not hesitate to contact our Appointment Line at 617.927.6000. We are still open for business and we are here to serve you. Whenever possible, please do not walk into the health center to request services. Medical and Behavioral Health telehealth visits may occur outside of these hours.

  • 142 Berkeley Street (Fenway: South End)
    Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:30 pm

If you need to schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment with a medical provider for either a new issue or for follow up of an existing condition, please do not hesitate to contact our Appointment Line at 617.247.7555. We are still open for business and we are here to serve you. Whenever possible, please do not walk into the health center to request services. Medical and Behavioral Health telehealth visits may occur outside of these hours.

  • Medical Department Call Center
    Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
    Saturday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

In order to better serve you, we will also be expanding operating hours and staffing in our Medical Department Call Center. If you need to speak with a nurse, please do not hesitate to reach the Call Center by calling 617.927.6300*.

*after hours, this number is covered by our answering service, which can connect you to Call4Health, a nurse triage service that works directly with our on call physicians to meet your needs.

We will be temporarily consolidating staff from the Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center to our 1340 Boylston Street and Fenway: South End sites. Borum patients can continue to call 617.457.8140 to schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment, to speak to a Borum nurse, or to receive after hours advice. Please do not come in to the Borum for care.

At this time, our Medical and Behavioral Health Departments are evaluating which patient visits can be rescheduled for a later date or potentially happen remotely using telehealth.

Yes. Fenway Health is providing telehealth appointments. If you need to schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment with a medical provider for either a new issue or for follow up of an existing condition, please do not hesitate to contact our Appointment Line at 617.927.6000 if you are a patient at our 1340 Boylston Street location or 617.247.7555 if you are a Fenway: South End patient.

We will also be expanding operating hours and staffing in our Medical Department Call Center. If you need to speak with a nurse, please do not hesitate to reach the Call Center by calling 617.927.6300*.

What illnesses can be diagnosed in a telehealth visit?
Your physician may be able to diagnose many of the same issues using telehealth that they can during an in-person visit. This may involve the use of live interactive video or diagnostic images that you would forward to your physician, vital signs, and/or patient data for later review. Speak with patient care staff for more information.

Yes. You can call in your prescription/refill, or request refills online, or through our mobile app.

If you generally use the pharmacy at 1340 Boylston Street, call 617.927.6330 – please ask us about how we can deliver or mail your medication to your home or workplace free of charge. Request refills electronically or via the Rx2Go app on your mobile phone.

If you generally use the pharmacy at our Fenway: South End location, call 617.927.6330 – please ask us about how we can deliver or mail your medication to your home or workplace free of charge.

Request refills electronically or via the Rx2Go app on your mobile phone.

Please contact our pharmacy or your prescribing medical provider to inquire about whether or not this option is available for your medication.

Pharmacies at both 1340 Boylston Street and Fenway: South End will remain open to serve you during the following hours of operation:

1340 Boylston Street (Ansin Building)
– Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 7:00 pm

Call 617.927.6330 – please ask us about how we can deliver or mail your medication to your home or workplace free of charge.

Request refills electronically or via the Rx2Go app on your mobile phone.

142 Berkeley Street (Fenway: South End)
– Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 8:00 am – 5:30 pm
– Wednesday 8:00 am – 6:30 pm
– Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Call 617.927.6163 – please ask us about how we can deliver or mail your medication to your home or workplace free of charge.

Request refills electronically or via the Rx2Go app on your mobile phone.

Eye Care
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, our Eye Care Department has changed our hours of operation to Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Optometry
If you need to schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment with an optometry provider for either a new issue or for follow up of an existing condition, please do not hesitate to contact our Optometry Line at 617.927.6190. We are still open for business and we are here to serve you. Whenever possible, please do not walk in to the health center to request services.

Optical Shop
Due to physical space limitations of our optical department we ask that you do not walk in to request services. If you are in need of any optical related services please contact our Optical Line at 857.313.6581 and we will schedule an appointment for you.

All non-urgent Dental visits have been cancelled. If you are experiencing a dental emergency, and need to schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment with a dentist, please do not hesitate to contact our Dental Line at 617.927.6127. We are still open for business and we are here to serve you. Whenever possible, please do not walk in to the health center to request services.

 

Dental Hours:

  • Monday – Thursday 8:00 am – 5:30 pm
  • Friday 8:00am – 5:00 pm
  • Saturday 9:00am – 1:00 pm

Yes. Most behavioral health appointments are now being offered utilizing our telehealth system.

Currently, some groups are offering therapy sessions via telephone. More group therapy sessions will become available as we continue to expand our telehealth system. Contact your group leader to check on the status of your group’s meeting. 

  • Housing, Legal, Community-Based Case Management, and Sexual Health
    The Housing, Legal, Community-Based Case Management, and Sexual Health teams continue their important work remotely. Rental Assistant payments and essential services to people who inject drugs continue.
  • Access Drug User Health
    Access Drug User Health will maintain a presence at 75 Amory Street where drop-in space is closed but clients can exchange syringe supplies on an individual basis.

    Our Green Street location, is piloting an outreach-only model, where Access staff will meet clients in the community instead of on location. Additionally, they will continue to distribute Narcan and supplies via van. Due to COVID-19 precautions, our Green Street location is not offering client services.
  • Youth on Fire
    Youth on Fire’s drop-in space is temporarily closed.

All Boomerangs store locations are closed to the public, for both shopping and donation of items. However, staff will continue to report to the stores until further notice. They will be deployed in the short term to clean and restock the stores, as well as to finish closing the West Roxbury location.

Fenway Health and AIDS Action’s public events that were originally scheduled to take place through April 2020 are being postponed to a later date. We are continuing to evaluate public events that are currently schedule for May 2020 and beyond.

Health insurance carriers are required to provide medically necessary telehealth, testing, counseling, treatment, and vaccination (once it’s developed and available) services related to COVID-19 to all Massachusetts residents without charging copays, coinsurance, or deductibles. 

If you have specific questions regarding your health insurance, please contact your provider.

What is COVID-19? ​

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 (an abbreviation of “coronavirus disease 2019” where “CO” stands for corona, “VI” for virus, and “D” for disease), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.

The virus spreads primarily between people through coughing and/or sneezing within about 6 feet of one another.

COVID-19 may live on surfaces for several hours. People may become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their face. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

While there is currently no vaccine, these simple steps can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

  • Continue excellent, frequent hand-hygiene, washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Practice social distancing and maintain a six-foot distance between yourself and others.
  • Get into the practice of not touching your face.
  • Make sure you and your family got your flu shots! There’s still time to do this.
  • Avoid shaking hands—even in a business setting.
  • If you are sick, stay at home.
  • If you have to cough or sneeze, cough into your elbow or a tissue/handkerchief.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles, etc. using a disinfecting spray or wipes that are rated to kill viruses as well as bacteria, or a regular household detergent and water. Check out these guidelines from the CDC.
  • If you are healthy, the CDC recommends that you do not wear a mask.
  • Encourage anyone who has a cough to use a facemask (If you are not sick, do not wear a facemask – it offers no protection).
  • Get your home prepared for a possible community outbreak.
  • Check credible information sources for up-to-date guidance and answers to your questions.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause symptoms ranging from the common cold to severe respiratory illness. Certain coronaviruses can infect animals, which occasionally spread from animals to humans, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache


If you are a Fenway patient, please call us if you need help; only call 911 or EMS if you have:

Fevers over 102 degrees that don’t respond to over the counter fever reducers AND one of the following:

  • Worsening chest pain despite taking over the counter pain medication OR
  • Cough associated with bloody sputum OR
  • Worsening shortness of breath

    If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel if you have or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a face mask before emergency medical services arrive.

Older adults and people who have chronic medical conditions may be higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness and death.

Those potentially at increased risk include:

  • Older adults
  • People who have medical conditions like:
    – Heart disease
    – Diabetes
    – Lung disease
    – Asthma
    – Pregnant women
    HIV
    People with chronic health conditions, including HIV/AIDS, may be at elevated risk of complications should they develop COVID-19. It is now more than ever critically important that PLWH take their HIV medications every day and take other steps to stay healthy, such as eating well, exercising, and avoiding tobacco and other substances.


Click to read more from the US Centers for Disease Control.

Flu and COVID-19 symptoms are similar and both viruses cause respiratory illness.

Why it might be flu: Flu symptoms usually occur more suddenly. Most people with the flu recover in two weeks or less.

Why it might be COVID-19: You are more likely to have COVID-19 if you have respiratory symptoms (dry cough, shortness of breath) AND one of the following is true:

  • You recently traveled to a country (such as China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea) or an area in the U.S. with community spread of the COVID-19 virus
  • You have been in contact (or were coughed on by) someone who may have COVID-19
  • COVID-19 is known to be in your community

While there are a number of vaccines in various stages of development, none have yet been approved. However, you should make sure that you and your family’s vaccinations are up to date, including influenza and pneumonia vaccines to help reduce vaccine-preventable disease.

Fenway Health cannot test for COVID-19 and we do not expect to offer testing soon.

To diagnose a potential COVID-19 case, healthcare professionals may run tests to rule out influenza and other common infections. Not all healthcare facilities (including Fenway Health) are able to test for COVID-19 at this time. The test involves swabbing the nose and throat, taking saliva and mucus samples, and possibly drawing blood.
Fenway Health cannot test for COVID-19 and we do not expect to offer testing soon.

If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider. Older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild. Seek care immediately if you have severe symptoms such as persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, or bluish lips or face. Your doctor will determine if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and whether you should be tested.

Federal, state, and local governments are working to effectively control the COVID-19 outbreak throughout the U.S. The items listed below are specific to Massachusetts. Click here for COVID-19 state data and policy actions to address coronavirus from around the country.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has issued an advisory that requires all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers, and the public as of Tuesday, March 24th starting at noon. Businesses will remain closed until Tuesday, April 7th at noon.

This new order does not change anything for Fenway Health. As a healthcare entity we are considered to be an “essential business.” Fenway Health has taken the necessary steps to ensure that only those staff members needed to continue delivering essential services remain physically present at our locations.

Fenway Health continues to focus our actions and planning on reducing the community spread of COVID-19, while delivering essential services, and protecting the health and safety of our patients and staff. We have taken steps to increase visits and services being provided via phone or video conference, minimize services and visits that are happening on-site, and re-deploying staff to off-site/work-at-home locations whenever possible. Click here to learn more.

We will continue to make adjustments as warranted in response to new developments and will update you through our website, through e-mail communication in our patient portal, and via our social media outlets.

  • Massachusetts joined Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York and other states across the country in enacting a State of Emergency in response to the spread of COVID-19
  • The designation allows more resources to be directed toward a response to this outbreak
  • Governor Baker recommends his staff limit work-related travel and large gatherings.
  • Fenway has already enacted travel restrictions for staff; canceled conferences, fund raisers, non-essential meetings and use of its space by community members; and transitioned to virtual meetings for all staff.

Health insurance carriers are required to provide medically necessary telehealth, testing, counseling, treatment, and vaccination (once it’s developed and available) services related to COVID-19 to all Massachusetts residents without charging copays, coinsurance, or deductibles. 

 

You will not be turned away from the emergency room because of your immigration status. If you are undocumented and need healthcare visit the MA Connector website or call 1-800-841-2900 for English and Spanish service.

Many cities and towns are continuing to provide free breakfast and lunch to students in their districts. Click on the city for schedules and locations: Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lowell, Medford, Revere, and Somerville. Click here for more locations from Project Bread.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides food insecure people with benefits that allow them to purchase nutritious foods. Call Project Bread’s Free Food Source Hotline: 1-800-645-8333 to see if you qualify.

Massachusetts has granted a moratorium on evictions to allow families to quarantine and shelter in place without disruptions. Additionally, there is a moratorium on utility shutoffs until the state of emergency is lifted.

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you are out of work because you are quarantined, left work due to risk of exposure, or to care for a family member. Please visit the Unemployment Assistance website here

The Massachusetts RMV will implement a 60-day extension for Class D, Class DMs, ID cards, and Learner’s Permits with expired/expiring credentials dated between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020. This extension does not apply to immigrants whose license expiration date is their end of stay in the United States.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) until at least April 1. In the meantime, USCIS will provide limited emergency services. Click here for assistance accessing emergency services.

 

Many people may have difficulty coping with stress, anxiety, and addiction during times of stress. The outbreak of COVID-19 may be a stressful time for many adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

The following articles offer some suggestions to help manage COVID-19 associated stress.

Many Alcoholics Anonymous groups have moved to conducting online meetings to support those in recovery. Click here for a list of online AA meetings across the country.

Many Narcotics Anonymous groups have moved to conducting online meetings to support those in recovery. Click here for a list of online NA meetings from around the world.

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) is a global community of mutual-support groups where participants help one another resolve problems with addiction to drugs and alcohol, or to activities such as gambling or over-eating. Click here to find a SMART meeting online.

Many of the classes that were previously offered in fitness facilities, yoga studios, or dojos are now being offered online. Take time to exercise at your favorite facility, or explore meditation and mindfulness. Check out the American Meditation Institute which offers free Sunday morning meditations classes.

Children and teens often take their cues from their parents and other adults around them. Parents and caregivers can help reassure and support their children and other young people by dealing with COVID-19 calmly and confidently.

The CDC offers the following signs to be aware of that your children are having difficulty managing the stress of the situation and some tips for helping them better cope.

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
  • Poor school performance or avoiding school
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

There are many things you can do to support your child:

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  • Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

Check out these tips from education experts and homeschoolers on what do with your children if their schools are closed. Click here to read the article.

The same recommendations for people at risk should be adhered to by everyone to help protect those who are more vulnerable, such as older adults and people with pre-existing medical conditions.

If you are a caregiver for someone in a long-term care facility, respect their visitation rules, ask about the health of the other residents, and know the plan if there is a COVID-19 outbreak.

If your loved ones live alone, check on them frequently and find out what services your local Area Agency on Aging offers.