Pollen or COVID19?
Just as the trees are blooming and we start coughing and sneezing, along comes a Pandemic that overwhelms the healthcare systems, creates panic buying, closes schools and isolates us.
So is it allergies or is it Coronavirus? If you have seasonal allergies, particularly to tree pollen and you have your usual allergy symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose and cough. You probably have allergies and should be on your usual allergy medications such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays. However, mild, early symptoms of Coronavirus may be similar. Coronavirus symptoms are predominantly fever, cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath. You will not have fever with allergies. So, even though you may likely have allergies, because of the severity of the illness when contracted by the vulnerable population (older adults and those with chronic illnesses and weakened immune systems), it is recommended you still cover your cough and sneeze, wash your hands, avoid public crowds, limit exposure to those at risk, and monitor your temperature.
Most of the people who will get Coronavirus will have mild symptoms and may not be aware they are sick. This is a new strain (mutation) of a virus that has been around a long time and we do not have a vaccine or immunity to this strain. Those who become seriously ill require hospitalization and sometimes ICU and ventilator support. If we have large numbers of people who reach this stage of illness it will be difficult for our hospitals and healthcare workers to keep up with the burden. So the plea now is to slow the spread of the virus. The way to do that is through "social distancing". This goes beyond self isolation if you have fever and cough, or quarantine if you have been to certain areas or have known exposure. We should be limiting visits to public places, avoid gatherings and crowds and try to maintain a 6 foot space between yourself and others. To emphasize the seriousness of social distancing there are widespread school closings, hospitals and nursing homes are restricting visitors, employers are looking for ways to have employees work from home and some cities will go under "lockdown". This will have a huge impact on all of us but if we do not stop the spread there will be morbidity and mortality in the US like they are facing in Italy.
To protect our patients and staff at Pennington Primary Care, we are asking all patients with fever and cough to call first. We have an in-house triage protocol and we will care for you either by phone, video chat, parking lot visit in your car or emergency room recommendation if warranted. We will notify DHEC when necessary. Most people with mild symptoms can stay home and treat symptoms with fever reducer, cough medicine, fluids and rest. They do not need to be seen in the doctor's office, urgent care or emergency room. We are requesting our patients contact us first. We do not have access to testing for everyone who may have the Coronavirus. We may have limited ability to test in the coming weeks but please do not show up at the office, ER or urgent care expecting a test if you have mild symptoms, have been sick less than 5 days and are otherwise healthy. If you are over 60 or have chronic medical conditions or a compromised immune system you should be contacting your doctor by phone as soon as you are having fever and cough.
We will be moving many of our appointments to phone, video chat or postponing non urgent visits. For those who get your prescriptions dispensed in our office, we will start shipping those to you. The beauty of Direct Primary Care is that you have access to us without having to come to the office. Current patients, please check your email and text messages from us.
All staff will be wearing masks to protect our patients since there is a possibility of someone spreading the virus with little or no symptoms. Should any of us have a known exposure or develop symptoms we will be isolated for 14 days. Please be patient with us.
COVID 19 is now a pandemic, which means it has spread over several countries and is affecting a lot of people.
Thank you for your patience as we work though this.
We will be limiting office visits through the next few weeks. We are trying to do our part to limit community spread of this novel virus. If you have any respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, congestion, shortness of breath) STAY HOME and call us. We will do everything we can over the phone and through video visits. We will guide you through the CDC recommendations. We DO NOT have testing available here but may have limited testing in the near future. We know community spread is coming. We know most of us that end up with corona virus will have very mild symptoms, which is the way this is spread to the vulnerable population. These precautions are meant to decrease burden on our healthcare system, which is unfortunately not prepared for this.
Avoid public events/places as best you can and when in public keep a distance from others if possible. Enjoy the outdoors. As always, for optimal health, follow a healthy diet, exercise and get adequate sleep. Vitamin C and Zinc may help.
Recommendations for home: 1. Be prepared with household items that you need. 2. If you develop symptoms, use Tylenol or Ibuprofen for fever, Delsym or honey for cough and hydrate. Call us with any questions! Again, thank you for your diligence and understanding as we navigate through this together. Our goal is to keep you safe and healthy - this is the best way to do that right now.
WASH YOUR HANDS and keep them away from your face. For our current members, please read your emails (might need to check spam/junk) and texts that come from us. We will be updating you as the situation changes. Follow us on Facebook for additional information and updates.