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COVID-19 Updates for Members

The Secretary of Health and Human Services extended the nationwide public health emergency due to COVID-19 through Jan. 15, 2022.

We continue to expand your access to care, support and resources to help you navigate through this unprecedented time. We are committed to helping you protect your health by making it easier and more affordable to get the care you need, when you need it, including from the comfort of your home.

 

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Looking for a COVID-19 vaccine location? Visit the Louisiana Department of Health website. 

If you’re eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to get it. FDA-authorized and FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines are widely available at retail pharmacies, doctors’ offices, hospitals and federally qualified health centers. Many large retail pharmacies are accepting walk-in patients, and large vaccination events may no longer be requiring appointments.

There is no member cost-sharing, through Dec. 31, 2021, for an FDA-authorized or FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. That means you will have $0 cost-sharing (no copayment, coinsurance or deductible) for an FDA-authorized and FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, no matter where you get the vaccine and including when two doses are required, as well as when a third dose or booster shot is required. You will not have any out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine or the administration of the vaccine. If you get the vaccine during a regular office visit, the office visit will be covered according to plan benefits and you may have cost-sharing for the office visit. If you receive additional services during your vaccination appointment, you may be responsible for copays, deductibles, coinsurance or out-of-network charges, according to your benefit plan.

The Louisiana Department of Health website and the CDC remain your best sources for COVID-19 education. To find a vaccine location, visit the Louisiana Department of Health website.

COVID-19 vaccines are an important step in slowing the spread of the disease and are key to protecting health. We encourage you to talk to your health care provider about the right time to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Monitor updates from local news, the Louisiana Department of Health, pharmacies and health care providers, who may have more information and resources on local vaccine availability.

Be aware of fraud. If someone calls, texts or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee, do not share your personal or financial information. You should not give your credit card, social security number, PayPal® account, Venmo® account or any other payment information to anyone to get access to a COVID-19 vaccine. No one should ask you to pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine. No one should ask you to pay to get early access to a vaccine. In addition, avoid fraud by not posting pictures of your vaccination card on the internet and social media. There are scammers who might try to use that photo for their own.

We encourage you to stay informed about COVID-19 vaccines and to discuss vaccination with your health care providers, including after you get a vaccine. You should also make sure you’re up to date on your doctor appointments, such as annual check-ups, and receive any needed care for anxiety, depression and loneliness. Most providers offer telehealth visits to help you get the care you need.

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COVID-19 Testing

We continue to cover medically appropriate FDA-authorized COVID-19 testing at no cost-sharing to you during the public health emergency when the testing is ordered by a physician or health care professional for purposes of diagnosis or treatment. A virus detection (diagnostic) test determines if a person is currently infected with COVID-19, while an antibody (serology) test may determine if a person has been exposed to COVID-19. 

Visit CDC.gov for more information about testing. Visit the Louisiana Department of Health for testing locations, or talk to your doctor about where to get the tests.

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COVID-19 Testing-Related Visits

We continue to waive member cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing-related visits during the public health emergency when there is a suspected COVID-19 diagnosis, whether the testing-related visit is in-person or is a telehealth visit. If a COVID-19 suspected diagnosis is not present, plan cost-sharing would apply. 

Waiving of cost-sharing means you are not responsible for paying a copay or coinsurance for the visit.

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COVID-19 Treatment

We waived member cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment through March 31, 2021, for in-network and out-of-network visits, including inpatient and outpatient treatment and telehealth visits, when there was a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. 

Remember to visit network providers and always show your member ID card for COVID-19-related testing, visits or treatment. Also, keep your primary care physician informed of any COVID-19 testing results or care you might receive.

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Access to Telehealth

Telehealth gives you access to health care providers from the comfort of your home through digital audio-visual technologies or dedicated telehealth applications. We expanded access to telehealth to help you stay in your home and reduce exposure to COVID-19.

  • 24/7 Virtual Visits through designated telehealth providers: These visits are ideal for urgent care.
  • Talk to your health care provider from home: Eligible health care providers can provide a telehealth visit for many of your urgent and non-urgent health care needs. This way, you can stay at home while still receiving the care you need.

Telehealth visits may include:

  • Urgent and routine medical care: Providers can use both interactive audio/video and audio-only.
  • Outpatient behavioral care: Providers can use both interactive audio/video and audio-only.
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapies: Providers must use interactive audio/video technology.
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Contacting Us for Assistance

Peoples Health values the health and safety of our employees, members and community. We continue to follow recommended guidelines for social distancing. The Peoples Health office in Metairie is closed to visitors until further notice. If you need assistance, you can call us at 1-800-222-8600 (TTY: 711) or contact us electronically at phn.member@peopleshealth.com or by using the form on our Contact Us page.

If you are unable to get in touch with your doctor, please let us know.

More Information About COVID-19

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We have a team of experts closely monitoring COVID-19. Our top priority is the health and well-being of the people we serve.

As with any public health issue, we will work with and follow all guidance and protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and Food and Drug Administration in supporting our members’ needs.

Stay alert for fraud during the coronavirus national public health emergency. Scammers like to take advantage of people when they’re distracted. Read more here.

In keeping safety in mind, many health care providers are making changes to office and clinic hours and locations. Be sure to call your provider the day before a scheduled appointment to confirm its time and location.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to an upper respiratory infection and may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Like the seasonal flu, COVID-19 is more severe in patients with long-term, underlying health conditions and the elderly. For the most updated information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website.

Your Questions Answered
Updated 11/1/2021

Find answers about cost, coverage and support for members affected by COVID-19

Peoples Health is responding to your needs and concerns. Review this information to find answers to common questions about COVID-19.

What do I need to bring to the vaccine appointment?

Be prepared to show your photo ID, such as a driver’s license, to show proof of identity.

  • You will need to show your red, white, and blue Medicare card because Medicare is paying for FDA-authorized and FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine If you don’t have your Medicare card, you can find it by logging in to your Social Security account. More information about your Medicare card can be found on the Medicare website.
  • If you receive the vaccine at a regular provider visit, you will also need your Peoples Health member ID card.
  • Be sure to wear a face mask and physically distance at your appointment.
  • Additional information on preparing for your vaccination appointment can be found on the CDC website.
What should I expect at the vaccine appointment?

Here are three key points from the CDC for you to keep in mind as you prepare for your vaccination appointment:

  • Your vaccination provider will likely monitor you after you receive the vaccine. This is in case of a rare allergic reaction. So, you should plan on the vaccination appointment taking some extra time.
  • You should plan ahead for your second dose if needed, by scheduling your second vaccine appointment if possible. You can also sign up for free text messaging through the CDC’s VaxText to a get a reminder about your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • You should receive a vaccination card during your appointment that says which vaccine you received, the date you received it and where it was received. We suggest you keep it in a safe place. You should not post a picture of your vaccination card on the internet or via social media, as there are people who may try to use your information as their own.

If you receive a two-dose vaccine, your vaccination card will be updated at the second dose appointment.

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine? When will the vaccine be available? Where do I get the vaccine?

The Louisiana Department of Health is your resource for local availability. You can also speak with your primary care physician or other health care professional about vaccine recommendations given your specific health conditions.

How much does the vaccine cost?

There should be no cost to you for getting an FDA-authorized or FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, including when two doses are required and when a third dose or booster shot is required.

Do I have to get two doses of the vaccine initially?

There is currently more than one type of vaccine being manufactured. Some types require two doses initially and some require a single dose.

Be sure to follow the vaccination instructions, which you will receive when you get the vaccine. Most FDA-authorized and FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines will require a second dose. You will need to get both doses in the required time frame to have protection from COVID-19. We encourage you to schedule appointments for both doses at the same time. Your vaccination provider will help you know when to get the second dose. The CDC’s v-safe mobile app can also help with second dose reminders.

Important reminders about the protection COVID-19 vaccines provide:

  • Vaccines can take several weeks after vaccination completion for full effectiveness.
  • While COVID-19 vaccines may help protect from the virus, it is not yet known if vaccinated people can still give the COVID-19 virus to others.
  • The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown.

If you aren’t yet vaccinated for COVID-19, you should continue to follow public health safety guidelines to help protect yourself and others. To help slow the spread of the disease: continue to wear a face mask, physically distance and wash your hands regularly. Once you are fully vaccinated, you can begin to again engage in many activities you did before the pandemic. Refer to CDC guidance for complete public health safety guidance. Keep in mind mask-wearing requirements may vary based on state, local or business guidance.

 

Who is recommended to get a COVID-19 booster shot?

The CDC says COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for the following people when they received the Pfizer vaccine and completed their initial series at least 6 months ago:

  • 65 years and older
  • 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • 18+ who work in high-risk settings
  • 18+ who live in high-risk settings
Who is recommended to get an additional dose of a COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC recommends and the FDA has authorized an extra dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for certain immunocompromised people as defined by CDC

It is recommended for those eligible for a third dose to get it a minimum of 28 days after their second dose of a two-dose vaccine, ideally getting the same manufacturer as the first two shots. People who are immunocompromised and those who live with people who are immunocompromised should continue to wear face masks, physically distance and wash hands regularly when outside of their household.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

All FDA-authorized and FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, including hospitalizations and death, according to the CDC. The vaccines are key to slowing the pandemic. The U.S. vaccine safety system makes sure all vaccines go through an extensive process to confirm levels of safety. Even after emergency use authorization, the FDA continues to review clinical data about the vaccines. The CDC website has COVID-19 vaccine safety information.

What should I do if I have a side effect from the vaccine?

Side effects from vaccines are normal signs that your body is building protection. 

As with other vaccines, according to the CDC, people report some side effects with FDA-authorized and FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines. The most common side effect is a sore arm. Some other side effects may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. 

If you have pain or discomfort after your vaccination, talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. 

In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.  

If you have side effects that bother you or do not go away, you should report them to your vaccination provider or primary care physician. You should also notify the CDC at 1-800-822-7967, as the CDC and FDA continue to monitor the safety of FDA-authorized and FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines. You may also use the CDC’s v-safe mobile app, which will help you monitor side effects and get second dose reminders.

Are there people who should not get the vaccine?

The current FDA-authorized and FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines are not recommended for people with certain conditions or of certain ages. Per the FDA, women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after the single-dose vaccination. Other COVID-19 vaccines are available for which this risk has not been seen. 

There are other special considerations for when it might not be a good time to get the vaccine:

  • If a person has recently been exposed to COVID-19, see the CDC guidelines for getting the vaccine.
  • If a person had monoclonal antibody treatment or received convalescent plasma, the CDC states vaccination should not occur for at least 90 days.

 Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about getting vaccinated for COVID-19.  

According to the CDC, if people have ever had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or an injected medicine, they should ask their doctor if they should get the COVID-19 vaccine. A severe reaction is one that requires treatment at a hospital or with medications like an EpiPen (epinephrine). According to the CDC, the likelihood of severe reaction to FDA-authorized and FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines is very low.    

The CDC recommends that people who have seasonal allergies or allergies to food, pets or oral medications, can still be vaccinated. If this describes you, check with your health care provider.

If I’ve had COVID-19, can I get vaccinated?

According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you’ve already had COVID-19 infection. And you do not need an antibody or diagnostic test before or after you are vaccinated to learn if the vaccine worked. 

However, if you are currently infected with COVID-19, you should wait to get vaccinated until after the illness has resolved and after you have met the criteria to discontinue isolation. Additionally, current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. If you had a recent infection, you may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period.

What is known about the virus variants and vaccine protection?

According to the CDC, experts are continuing to study the variants of the virus that cause COVID-19. Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. There are multiple variants of the virus that cause COVID-19 in the United States, and these variants seem to spread more easily than other variants. An increase in cases of COVID-19 can lead to more hospitalizations and potentially more deaths. 

FDA-authorized and FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines help prevent the virus from spreading, which in turn can help decrease the opportunity for virus variants to develop and spread. According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines do help protect against variants, and they continue to be closely investigated with more studies underway. 

To help protect your health, follow public health safety practices: wear a face mask per CDC guidance, physically distance per CDC guidance, wash hands regularly and isolate or quarantine when you are sick. Visit the CDC website to learn more about the virus variants.

What proactive steps can I take to get access to a vaccine?

Here are a few ways you can to stay on top of the latest news and vaccine availability:

  • Stay informed on the latest vaccine information from the CDC.
  • Visit the Louisiana Department of Health website to find information on vaccination providers.
  • Call the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing 211. The line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or text the keyword “LACOVID” to 898-211.
  • Keep up with the local news for information on where vaccines may be available in your area.
  • Ask your doctor or local pharmacy about vaccine availability.

And remember, you should not pay to be put on a vaccination list.

Will I have a choice in the vaccine I get?

Like the flu vaccine, vaccination providers will administer the COVID-19 vaccine based on availability. Vaccination providers may not have all FDA-authorized and FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines at their location. If you have questions, talk to your health care provider.

Can I stop wearing a mask after I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

It depends. If you received only one dose of a two-dose vaccine, you should continue to wear a mask, physically distance and wash your hands regularly to protect yourself from COVID-19. 

The CDC guidance changes once a person is fully vaccinated, which means two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or after getting the one-dose vaccine. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can resume many activities that they did prior to the pandemic. Mask-wearing requirements may vary based on state, local or business guidance. 

To help protect you and others from COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the CDC and American Medical Association recommend fully-vaccinated people follow these guidelines:

  • Wear a mask in public indoor places and crowded outdoor spaces in areas with substantial or high COVID-19 infection rates.
  • Wear a mask and follow other public health safety guidelines if you or someone in your household is unvaccinated, has a weakened immune system or has an underlying medical condition.
  • Wear a mask in all indoor schools, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Wear a mask for 14 days, or until you receive a fully negative test result, when in public indoor settings if you were exposed to someone who might have a COVID-19 infection; the first COVID-19 test should be taken between day 3 and 5 after exposure. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics also endorses masks for helping prevent and control COVID-19. They recommend face masks be worn by all children 2 years of age and older.  

Continue to follow any mask-wearing requirements based on state, local or business guidance. Refer to the CDC guidance for complete public health safety guidance.

What is known about masks and protecting health?

Face masks are effective tools in helping slow the spread of COVID-19, especially for people and households who are not yet vaccinated or have an underlying medical condition, according to the CDC. Masks help keep your respiratory droplets in, while keeping droplets from other people out. The American Academy of Pediatricians and the American Medical Association support face masks as a science-based tool in helping prevent and control COVID-19.  

Make sure your mask works the best it can, according to the CDC:

  • Have two or more layers of washable fabric
  • Completely cover your nose and mouth
  • Fit snugly against the sides of your face without gaps
  • Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask
  • Learn more about when to wear a mask on the CDC site.
Do I need a COVID-19 test after I get vaccinated to make sure it’s working?

No, the CDC does not recommend that you get COVID-19 antibody or diagnostic testing to understand whether a vaccine worked. 

If I’m traveling outside of Louisiana and the vaccine becomes available to me, can I get it while I’m out of town?

Contact the department of health for the state you’re traveling to, and work with your primary care physician or other health care professional about vaccine recommendations.

Can I get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?

We encourage you to get your flu shot as soon as possible. Don’t wait to get it. 

According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines can be administered without regard to timing of other vaccines, including the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine can be administered during the same visit. The CDC says that routine flu vaccination is an important preventive care service for children, adolescents and adults (including pregnant women) that should not be delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Talk with your primary care physician or other health care professional about vaccine recommendations.

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. As with any potential illness, like the flu, it is important to follow good prevention practices, including:

  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others in public places.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Try to stay away from people who might be sick.
  • Do not share cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect often-touched surfaces.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • While a flu shot does not stop COVID-19, it’s still good to protect yourself against the flu. Contact your primary care physician or search peopleshealth.com/providersto find a network provider and schedule your flu shot.

Stay informed on the latest advice:

I may have been exposed to COVID-19. What should I do?
Call your primary care physician right away if you believe you might have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing. Only health care providers can order a COVID-19 test. Find contact information for network providers by visiting www.peopleshealth.com/providers.
How do I know if I have the flu or COVID-19? Should I get a flu shot?

The flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, but both are highly contagious respiratory illnesses. They share some of the same symptoms, so it may not be easy to tell them apart. While getting a flu shot won’t keep you from getting COVID-19, it reduces your chances of getting the flu, and preventing the flu helps you to stay healthy.

The steps you’re taking to protect yourself from COVID-19 can also help protect from the flu. These steps include wearing a mask out in public and when in close contact with others (meaning less than 6 feet apart) and washing your hands frequently with soap and water.

Talk to your doctor. You can also learn about the similarities and differences between the flu and COVID-19 on the CDC website.

Where do I get the COVID-19 test?

Call your health care physician right away if you believe you might have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

A virus detection (diagnostic) test determines if a person is currently infected with COVID-19, while an antibody (serology) test may determine if a person has been exposed to COVID-19. Work with your provider to determine if you need a COVID-19 test.

Remember to visit network providers and always show your member ID card for COVID-19-related testing. Also, keep your primary care physician informed of any COVID-19 testing results or care you might receive.

What types of COVID-19 tests are there?

Testing for COVID-19 is important to slowing the spread of COVID-19. We encourage you and your health care provider to use FDA-authorized tests. FDA-authorized tests include:

  • Diagnostic tests to determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19. There are 2 types of these viral diagnostic tests: nucleic acid amplification and antigen tests.
  • Antibody tests, also known as serology tests, may determine if you might have been infected with the virus. According to the FDA, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection. 

Remember to visit network providers and always show your member ID card for COVID-19-related testing, treatment, vaccines or other related services. Also, keep your primary care physician informed of any COVID-19 testing results, vaccinations or care you might receive.

Can I get a rapid COVID-19 test or a home test (such as an over-the-counter test)?

Work with your doctor for guidance about the test that’s right for you.

Keep in mind that Medically-appropriate COVID-19 tests must be FDA-authorized or approved and be ordered or reviewed by a health care professional to either diagnose if the virus is present in a person due to symptoms or potential exposure, or help in the treatment of the virus for a person.

My provider is offering a COVID-19 antibody test. What is the value in this?

Your provider can help you determine if you need an antibody test. Antibody tests can only determine if a person might have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past. At this time, it is not known what level of antibodies, if any, provides immunity to COVID-19.

Until there is better understanding about antibodies, the results should not be used to diagnose a current COVID-19 infection. Also, until clinical evidence is available, there are no recommendations at this time on how this test can be used. It should not be used to make employment decisions or decisions regarding the need for personal protective equipment.

How do I know if the COVID-19 antibody test is FDA-authorized?
Ask your provider to use an FDA-authorized test. Tests must be FDA-authorized to be covered without cost-sharing. FDA-authorized tests include tests approved for patient use through pre-market approval or emergency use pathways, as well as tests that are developed and administered in accordance with FDA specifications or through state regulatory approval.
How does a COVID-19 test work?

For the diagnostic test: A nasal swab is the preferred testing method for a COVID-19 test to see if you have the virus. The swab is collected by your physician or yourself. Your physician may also use other methods such as a throat swab. This test has a high accuracy rate if the sample is taken and handled correctly. 

For the antibody test: All antibody tests require a blood sample. As new antibody tests continue to become available, it’s important to know that not all versions are FDA-authorized, nor are they providing reliable results.

What exactly is telehealth?
If you feel like the term “telehealth” is everywhere lately, you’re spot on. It’s a way to talk with a doctor or provider, right in your own home. You’re probably hearing the term a lot because telehealth use has expanded with the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s become a more convenient way to help people connect with a provider from home—anytime, day or night.

With telehealth, you use digital technologies, like your smartphone or computer, to talk with a provider. You can get treatment options and even prescriptions for medications, if needed.

If you think you might have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, be sure to call your doctor right away. Ask your provider if you can have a telehealth visit to help assess your symptoms. But that’s not all. You can also consider telehealth for preventive care visits, like annual wellness checkups, or specialty care visits. Just ask your provider about their telehealth options.

If you have urgent care needs, you can also use telehealth services, like virtual visits, to get treatment and even many common prescriptions if you need them. Consider a telehealth visit for these common health conditions and more:

  • Flu
  • Fever
  • Migraines
  • Allergies
  • UTIs

You may find telehealth is a helpful and convenient way to get care, anytime, anywhere. You can access telehealth through your local health care provider if your provider offers this service.

Is there any help to take care of my stress?

Optum, part of our parent company UnitedHealth Group, offers an Emotional-Support Help Line. Professionally trained, mental health staff are there to support people who may be suffering from COVID-19 fear or stress. Optum’s Emotional-Support Help Line number is 1-866-342-6892 and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free of charge and open to anyone.

The drug I take normally requires prior authorization, but I can’t get in touch with my doctor. What should I do?

Congress passed the CARES Act on March 20, 2020, which reduced prior authorization requirements for certain prescription medications when your doctor is not available to help with the authorization. If you have a concern regarding authorization for a drug you are taking and you are unable to reach your doctor to get the authorization, call us, so we can help you.

Why are Peoples Health offices closed?

Peoples Health values the health and safety of our employees, members and community. In light of the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, we are following recommended guidelines to implement social distancing. The Peoples Health office in Metairie is closed to visitors until further notice. If you need assistance, you can call us or contact us by email or by using this form on our website.

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