Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update from Shepherd Center

Important Notice

As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health issue evolves, Shepherd Center is going to err on the side of communicating updated information to you quickly, so please anticipate updates and/or changes regularly. We will issue updates via social media (facebook.com/shepherdcenter), on this web page (shepherd.org/COVID19) and our other communication channels as more information becomes available.

Shepherd Center Updates

March 23, 2020

To help enhance the safety of our patients, their caregivers and our staff during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic:

All outpatients with appointments between now and the end of April will receive a call with further instructions regarding upcoming appointments. Some appointments will be handled via phone. Please see below for visitor restrictions. Specifically, Shepherd Center is doing the following:

  • To further enhance safety during the pandemic, Shepherd Center’s day rehabilitation programs for patients with spinal cord injury and brain injury will be closing indefinitely after March 27.
  • Visiting hours have been changed to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Only two designated visitors per inpatient are allowed. They are screened each time they enter the hospital and must show a photo ID at the screening checkpoint.
  • Shepherd Apothecary customers should call 404-350-7743 to pay for their prescription medications by credit card. They can let the Apothecary staff know when they will be able to drive up to the front circle by the Terry Lee statue. Then, an Apothecary staff member will deliver the prescription to the customer’s car. Another option is to have the Apothecary ship medications via UPS. Normal delivery is two to three days, but shipments could be delayed.
  • All outpatient, single service clinic and rehabilitation appointments, including those at Shepherd Pathways, are being canceled and will be rescheduled in the future.
  • All outpatient procedures are being canceled – except MS infusions, intrathecal pump refills/analysis/reprogramming and a few other urgent procedures. We will contact you at a later date to reschedule your appointment.
  • The Complex Concussion Clinic at 80 Peachtree Park Drive is handling established patient's physician appointments by phone. They are not accepting any new patients at this time.
  • The SHARE Military Initiative will not be admitting any new clients at this time, and has suspended in-person treatment for existing clients. Staff are providing transition support and peer support by phone.
  • Seating Clinic and Driving Program clients will be contacted by phone regarding their appointments.
  • Research patient visits will be canceled for elective or volunteer participants. Patients who are participating in a clinical trial that requires a research visit that is already scheduled will proceed after the patient is screened.
  • Shepherd Center is not scheduling new outpatients at this time. We will keep a list of inquiries, or you can follow up in the future.
  • We will not be scheduling any future appointments in Outpatient Services until further notice.

March 18, 2020

As part of our commitment to enhancing the safety of our patients, families and staff during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, we have made several indefinite operational and policy changes, including restricting access to the hospital and our off-campus facilities.

We recognize that these restrictions take away from the usual Shepherd Center experience. We don’t make these decisions lightly, but we do make them for everyone's safety, particularly for our patients, who are at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19. We greatly appreciate your cooperation and understanding. 

  • If you have a fever, cough or shortness of breath, please do not come to Shepherd Center for the safety of our patients, families and staff.
  • Effective March 16, the only entrances to Shepherd Center’s main campus buildings that are open are from the parking decks and the Marcus-Woodruff Building front entrance next to our coffee kiosk. All visitors will be screened before entering the hospital.
  • ProMotion Gym, including the pool, and Beyond Therapy are closed to everyone except inpatient units indefinitely starting Monday, March 16.
  • The Shepherd Center cafeteria is open for to-go meals only to Shepherd staff, patients and families. The dining area of the cafeteria is open ONLY to day program patients and their two designated caregivers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Effective March 16, we are restricting visitors in our main campus inpatient units and day program gym to two designated, pre-approved visitors per patient. All visitors will be screened each time they enter the hospital. They will be required to show a photo ID to confirm they are on the designated visitor list.
  • Patients with appointments in our outpatient clinics and programs will be contacted 24 to 48 hours in advance of their appointment to be pre-screened for COVID-19 before their appointment. They will receive additional information at that time.
  • If at all possible, we ask that caregivers of outpatients remain in their cars in the parking deck or lot – or drop off their patient and return for pickup – during the outpatient's visit. Caregivers who need to enter will be screened at the checkpoints before entering the hospital.
  • Only pre-approved, essential vendors and visitors meeting with a staff member will be allowed to enter. You will be required to show proof of pre-approval and a photo ID. Without proof of pre-approval, you will have to call the staff member to come escort you into the building.
  • Anyone who has been a cruise ship passenger in the past 30 days is not permitted to enter any of our facilities.

March 20, 2020

For MS Institute Patients and Caregivers:

As part of Shepherd Center’s commitment to enhancing the safety of our patients, families and staff during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have made several indefinite operational and policy changes, including restricting access to the hospital.

We recognize these restrictions take away from the usual Shepherd Center experience. We don’t make these decisions lightly, but we do make them for everyone's safety, particularly for our patients, who are at higher risk for complications from COVID-19. We greatly appreciate your cooperation and understanding. Here is what you need to know:

  • The only entrances to Shepherd Center that will be open are at the Shepherd Parking Deck bridge on the first floor and the Marcus-Woodruff Building front entrance next to our coffee kiosk.
  • All MS patients who must come to Shepherd Center for infusions and/or MRIs will be pre-screened for COVID-19 and flu by phone and re-screened at these entrances upon arrival.
  • Unless it is medically necessary, caregivers of outpatients must remain in their cars in the parking deck – or drop off their patient and return for pickup – during the outpatient's visit. Caregivers who need to enter will be screened at the checkpoints before entering.
  • Caregivers of patients who are at Shepherd Center for a long infusion (Ocrevus or Rituxan) and need a place to wait will first need to be pre-screened at the bridge entrance from the Shepherd Parking Deck. If they pass the screening, they may wait in the lounge area on the Plaza Level of the Woodruff Family Residence Center, which is accessible via the elevators adjacent to the Woodruff Parking Deck. There are restrooms, water fountains and guest WiFi services available on this level. Please follow CDC guidelines for social distancing (6 feet apart) and handwashing.
  • Caregivers who fail the screening will not be permitted in any Shepherd Center buildings and will have to wait in their cars while their patient receives their infusion.
  • Caregivers will not be allowed to go to the Shepherd Center cafeteria, so they are advised to bring snacks and water with them. Also, the Fresh Market grocery store near Shepherd Center is open, and some restaurants are providing takeout and delivery service.
  • Appointments for established MS patients who do not need an infusion or MRI at Shepherd Center will be handled via phone. A staff member will reach out to you to schedule these calls, so please answer calls from Shepherd Center.
  • Shepherd Apothecary customers needing prescriptions filled may call 404-350-7743 to pay for their medications by credit card. They can let the Apothecary staff know when they will be able to drive up to the front circle by the Terry Lee statue. Then, an Apothecary staff member will deliver the prescription to the customer’s car. Another option to have the Apothecary ship medications via UPS. Normal delivery is two to three days, but shipments could be delayed.

Please know we are working diligently to protect the health and safety of our staff, patients and family members, and to ensure that we remain adequately supplied to meet patient needs.

Return to this web page for ongoing updates and follow Shepherd Center on social media.

If you have specific questions related to your ongoing care, you may contact our Call Center between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays at 404-603-5031.

We encourage everyone to take preventive steps to stop the spread of COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to this virus. However, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help mitigate the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home during this time if you can, but especially if you are sick, for your health and the safety of others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for healthcare workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).
  • Wash your hands often 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 an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

We know this is a time that may cause psychological distress. If you are a current Shepherd Center inpatient, please talk to your Shepherd Center psychologist. If you are a current Shepherd Center outpatient, contact your Shepherd Center provider directly. Should you need to talk to a crisis counselor immediately, you may call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you have general inquiries related to Shepherd Center’s actions related to coronavirus, you may send an email to COVID19@shepherd.org or leave a message at 404-350-7662. We will respond as quickly as possible.

The Shepherd Center Call Center for established outpatients with questions about coronavirus or other medical-related topics is expanding its hours during the pandemic. The Call Center will now be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Call 404-603-5031.

These are trying circumstances for patients, families and staff. As always, we are trying to make the healthiest, safest decisions for our community.