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By Sarah Hite, MSN, FNP-C—
Who else feels like they are living in a poorly written science fiction movie? I think we should fire the writers! Seriously, don’t people have enough toilet paper already? But in all seriousness, I know that this is a scary and troubling time for many people. There are so many unknowns. One news station says ABC; but then this news station says XYZ; yet another says 567. Do not get me started on social media. I am almost certain that people stay up all night thinking up the kookiest things they can think of, and then post them as “facts”.
So, I thought now would be a good time to talk facts and empower each of you with knowledge. Corona virus, also known as COVID19, is a relatively new virus. It is a variant of the SARS virus that we all became familiar with in 2003. If exposed and the virus starts to replicate in a person’s body, the incubation period is 2-14 days. Exposure does not necessarily mean you will develop Corona virus. The signs and symptoms may include fever greater than 100.4 (in the elderly 99.6 is considered fever), cough, sore throat, body aches, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. There have been several interviews with people who are recovering from the virus. They are describing the shortness of breath as if someone had tied a rope around their chest, and with every breath it was being pulled tighter and tighter.
Most individuals who contract the virus develop mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without any sort of special treatment. Those that have the most complications from this virus are the ones that are the most vulnerable to illness in general. These individuals include the elderly, people with serious medical conditions, diabetics (type one and two), heart disease, lung disease, cancer patients, those with autoimmune diseases and organ transplant patients. Based on current evidence, children are not more at risk than others.
If you are wondering how to protect yourself and your loved ones, the steps are very simple. First, follow the current call for social isolation. Do not go places any more than you need to. Do not gather in crowds greater than 10. Do not stand closer than 6 feet from one another. Wash your hands for 20 seconds (sing the ABC song or Happy Birthday song). Do this frequently. Use hand sanitizer that has more than 60% alcohol (washing your hands is better than hand sanitizer). Avoid close contact with others, stay home if you are sick, cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze and throw away your tissue when done. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your face. Clean and disinfect surfaces. Did I mention, wash your hands?
How is the virus transmitted? It is transmitted through respiratory droplets and the oral fecal route. This is why you need to wash your hands! When a person coughs or sneezes, they can produce up to 3,000 droplets that fly into the air to infect others. (Please cover your mouth). The virus itself can survive in droplets floating around from 8-72 hours. It can survive on cardboard 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for up to three days.
This is a time of extreme stress and anxiety. We are all worried about our loved ones, our town, our jobs, our finances. Believe me, we are all feeling this. Everyone reacts differently to stress. It is a natural reaction to feel fear and anxiety. You may be experiencing changes in your sleep pattern, having difficulty sleeping. You may have difficulty concentrating. Chronic health conditions can worsen during these times, some may even increase their use of alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs. These are natural responses which are to be expected. Try to take breaks from watching, reading and listening to the news, especially social media. Try to care for your body during this time, eat healthy, drink plenty of water; try to get a little exercise. Make time to take care of your mind, unwind, read a book, start journaling; learn to sketch. There are all sorts of DIY classes on the internet these days.
So what is Garza County Health Clinic doing to serve the community during this difficult time? We are taking several steps to try and accommodate the healthy, not acutely ill individuals, as well as those who are sick.
- We are now able to do telephone visits for Medicare patients, dependent on their need. They will need to call the clinic and schedule a time.
- 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. we will see well visits and follow-ups only. These are reserved for children and adults who are not sick and need well visits, as well as diabetic, hypertension, COPD and asthma patients that need to follow-up, others that are not sick and should not be around individuals who are ill.
- Monday’s noon to 1 p.m., we are closed, all other days we are open at lunch. Call for an appointment.
- 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., we will see sick visits. We are asking that all individuals call in and let us know what your needs are. We are also asking that you be very honest about your symptoms. NO ONE will be turned away. However, during times like this, we are taking extra precautions and need to protect our staff. If you truly have a concern about having Coronavirus, please be honest and let us know. Please do not tells us you have a fever, cough and shortness of breath after we have brought you in the room and you have exposed all of us. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in this matter.
- We do have LIMITED amounts of swabs to test for COVID19, otherwise known as Coronavirus. We will only do a certain amount of testing each day between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. These tests are for Garza County residents. Individuals will stay in their car for the entire process. Individuals will have to meet CDC testing guidelines. Individuals will be tested for Flu and Strep first. Results for COVID19 take an average of 48 hours to get back.
From all of us here at the Garza County Health Clinic, we would like you to know that you and your health is important to us. We are here to serve our community and help each of you in any way that we can. We are all in this together and are praying for a swift resolution to this pandemic.