We are experiencing an epidemic, “an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area”. This is a NEW disease.
The world is experiencing a pandemic, “an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents usually affecting a large number of people.”
Public Health “is the science of protecting and improving the health of entire populations, big and small.” In the absence of epidemics and pandemics, the protection Public Health provides is not apparent in everyday life, but its’ purpose in keeping us healthy is. If the spread of a disease can be mitigated (made less severe) it can reduce the impact on society. It requires everyone taking part.
Where Do We Start?
The best current source of information is Anthony Fauci MD https://www.niaid.nih.gov/about/director When he speaks we should listen closely.
He has advised “if you feel sick, stay home and call your Doctor for direction.” I want to review basic things we all can do to make it harder for this transmissible virus to take advantage of our health.
I have found the Florida Department of Health http://www.floridahealth.gov to be an excellent site for concise up to date information for the everyday individual seeking basic advice.
Try the COVID 19 Resource Toolkit tab in the middle of their home page. My favorite starter items are:
Although these items seem very basic…they are, Very…Basic, much like blocking and tackling, for all you football fans out there. Social Distancing is extremely important and basic. It is not a joke, as this type of virus transmits through the respiratory route and by touching of animate and inanimate objects. Ignorance of the topic cannot be cured by arrogance of its’ importance. When taken together they are a toxic cocktail affecting us all.
What Do We Do Now?
We pick our best source of information relative to your personal life and responsibilities. As your Doctor I have done so by securing our office in a fashion that protects the patients, the staff, the Doctors and ancillary people involved in daily appropriate medical care.
- Daily schedules are reviewed to find an alternative to presenting to the office for routine stable visits. Any needs such as prescriptions can be dealt with over the phone. Visits are being rescheduled into the near future, dependent on our evolving knowledge of the current health situation. This limits unnecessary contact in the medical setting to reduce transmission.
- All patient contacts are being triaged by the staff for appropriate assessment and are brought to the attention of the doctor in office. PLEASE CALL THE OFFICE AND DO JUST NOT WALK IN, AS IT MAY PUT OTHERS AT SIGNIFICANT RISK OF CONTAGION.
- The office, and its’ surfaces, is cleaned regularly. We have a hands free Purell dispenser as well.
- Any acute medical problems of NON infectious upper respiratory complaints are being handled as needed.
- Infectious upper respiratory complaints (ie colds, sore throats, etc) are being triaged with the doctor BY PHONE EXCLUSIVELY to ascertain the nature of the immediate need of the patient. The patient is asked about any recent travel and the locations; contact with anyone traveling, and or contact with anyone known to be COVID 19 positive. Exact truthful documented history from the patient is imperative to the health of all. Fever, cough and shortness of breath are the most common COVID 19 symptoms. http://ww11.doh.state.fl.us/comm/_partners/action/covid19_self_screening.pdf
- If it is deemed necessary for the patient to be assessed for COVID 19 they will be directed to the appropriate site at the time. Hospitals are still in the phase of arranging safe areas for COVID 19 exposed individuals. This is a developing phase and will be performed in the safest fashion for all. Hospitals already have COVID 19 units and they are staffed by in hospital nurses and doctors.
In the 3-6 weeks ahead we will better know whether the applications of our basic precautions and the actions of the greater public health system will prevail in reducing the impact to our everyday life.
I vigorously encourage my patients to contact me and discuss their specific questions. In doing so we all work together to lessen angst and become better educated on the topic and hopefully reduce the consequences of not doing so.