As the year comes to an end and is filled with the joy we have for loved ones, this year requires attention to detail. I would like to thank you all for being diligent and compliant in your efforts to stay well. Anything we forego in the short term will bring success in the long term. It has been said “If you got your health, you got just about everything”.
That being said I would like to share some tips for enjoying the holidays. These are basic public health practices espoused by every doctor, nurse and medical organization in the entire world. The following was taken from an article by the American Medical Association Senior News Writer Ms. Sara Berg and Megan Srinivas MD Infectious Disease Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
“7 things Doctors and Nurses wish patients knew about holiday gatherings this year”
This is not the normal holiday season. As much as we miss our loved ones, staying safe and reducing risk, are the smartest things we can ever do, particularly this year. This could mean not being able to attend the typical in person holiday gatherings. This may assure that the same loved ones are around for the following holidays to come.
- Transmission Risk is High – disease rates are increasing as we head for the winter in the northern hemisphere, typically the worst period for upper respiratory illnesses. COVID 19 is a respiratory virus. The difference between it and a cold, strep throat or the flu is, there is no completely effective therapy or vaccine. They are being worked on daily. There are medical protocols but each patient is different. Vaccine production for the average individual is projected to be available next summer.
- Strictly Quarantine for 2 Weeks – that means if you travel, eat out or think masks are overblown, you are a risk to yourself and others. If you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID 19, have recently traveled or believe Public Health advice is for geeks, it behooves you to stay away from the public and distance yourself from loved ones for 2 weeks prior to family gatherings. If you have specific questions about how to do that, realize Dr Google has limitations and call your own Doctor for specific advice as to how your questions affect you and the ones around you.
- Take care in getting there, if you must – If you will be flying, there are increased risks given the close proximity to others and the shear mass of people who routinely travel. Safe driving may be an alternative, but forethought is required. There are true rising numbers of COVID 19 illness and this will continue to rise into mid-January. We are in the riskiest time of this pandemic that began last January.
- Consider the Risks of Staying with Family: If everyone is following strict quarantining, mask wearing and possible testing, prior to any gathering it is safer than not. Being sure that everyone is as compliant as this, varies greatly amongst people.
- Pay Attention to Lodging Sanitation: Contact the hotel or Airbnb in advance and learn about their safety procedures in place, in advance.
- Gather Outside, Limit Group Size: In warmer climes have gatherings outside with social distancing and masks advised. In colder areas the size of the group should be limited and social distance planning should be prepared in advance. Masks should be worn and seating should be spaced. It may be safer to invite five people known to be compliant, having quarantined for 2 weeks and possibly COVID nasal swab tested, than to invite 2 people who have not “bought in to that COVID thing yet”. That would be a high-risk situation.
- Wear Masks and Watch Distance:
Wear Masks and Socially Distance Yourself, Wash your Hands for 20 seconds regularly.
The fashionable neck sleeve pulled easily up over the face is NOT protective. A 3 Ply surgical masks is. You need to place it on, with the bendable nose piece around the bridge of the nose and OVER the nostrils (where most of the air flows). Placing a festive cloth mask over the surgical mask can be a good choice for home use at a gathering.
WINTER CARE NOTICE:
OFFICE: Hospitals, Walk-in Centers and Private Medical Offices, as well as mine, will be seeing patients with upper respiratory complaints by Telehealth only. Colds, strep throat, influenza and COVID 19 have similar symptoms. You should call your doctor first and get direction based on your symptoms. No Walk-ins Will Be Allowed. As always, you will be assessed and directed in the best manner for your speedy recovery. Call the Office number during the day and my cell phone after hours. Call with early symptoms, there is no need to delay. We currently see patients in the office with a strict protocol based on mutual safety. If the percent positivity rises in our locale to 10%, the office will return to Telehealth visits with care coordination, exclusively. Patients will return to office visits when that same percent positivity drops below 10% three days in a row.
HOSPITAL: Hospitals have strict protocols for care in this rising pandemic. They have admitting teams for patients requiring admission. Non COVID medical/surgical conditions are separated from COVID areas and it has been successful thus far. I have active staff privileges modified to allow the admitting teams to admit. I will coordinate your ER visits if I am aware you are going there. As always, calling 911 is required for serious situations. I am able to speak with the ER and hospital staff and I forward your pertinent records to the them at your arrival. I am able to access the patient’s progress and remain an open line of communication with the family.
These are all basic things that can save your life and the lives of others. WE ALL have some risk factor when it comes to staying healthy. Some known. Some not. Avoiding risk is the best first foot forward. Here are two discussions that may further your study on the topics:
One Could Think About In This Way:
If you are football fan, it is the third quarter, the half time show could have been better and you are 17 points behind. Blocking, tackling and playing as a team gives us the best opportunity to win the game. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The game isn’t over till the buzzer rings.
If you are predominantly business oriented, Less Exposure. Less Risk.
I Wish You All a Healthy Happy Holiday Season and All the Best in the New Year.
Together We Can Do This.