There are several recommended actions that those who are ill can take to help get better and to keep illness from spreading to others during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following information came from Whitney Gentry, Fayette County Memorial Hospital (FCMH) Foundation Director, and Dr. Emily Johnson, Rural Health Clinic Director at FCMH, as well as information they collected from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
“Right now we have actually seen about a 50 percent reduction in the amount of patients coming to both Same Day Care and the ER,” explained Gentry in an email. “We have expected this — people are adhering to the social distancing recommendations and are doing everything to reduce their risk of exposure. We expect the numbers to climb once the surge hits our community. For those people who do need to visit our Same Day Care Clinic, we are now screening patients as they enter the building so that we can separate those who are showing symptoms related to COVID-19 in an effort to prevent the spread of germs.”
Those who are ill can contact the Adena Coronavirus hotline at 740-542-7233 or call the Same Day Care Clinic at 740-333-3333 to receive advice about seeking care.
According to ODH, most patients (up to 80 percent) will be able to manage symptoms at home and will not need to seek care. Having a fever does not require a person to seek treatment, and coughing can be treated at home with over-the-counter cough medication.
It is suggested that treatment be sought for shortness of breath, light-headedness and dizziness, although it is still best to call ahead to be pre-registered so proper procedures can be followed before, during and after a patient’s arrival.
The website also explains that there are currently no prescription medications that will treat COVID-19.
According to Gentry, Dr. Amy Acton, the Ohio Department of Health director, strongly recommends that all Ohioans immediately do the following if they feel ill: “pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. Call your doctor immediately (before seeking care) if you feel like you are developing these symptoms. If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed. Put on a facemask before you enter the facility.”
Emergency warning signs for COVID-19 should lead to seeking prompt medical attention. The emergency signs for adults, according to the CDC website, include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face.
Healthcare providers should be consulted for any other concerning or severe symptoms as the list is not all-inclusive.
Those with emergency symptoms should contact, then travel to an emergency department.
If COVID-19 is suspected, the ODH recommends asking the doctor to call the local health department or the ODH. Those who are placed under “active monitoring or facilitated self- monitoring should follow instructions provided by their local health department.”
“For any worsening symptoms, we would advise that they contact their primary care provider or be evaluated in person,” wrote Johnson in an email.
Johnson explained that while ill, a person could try consuming a bland diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) along with clear liquids such as water, juice, Sprite or 7Up.
“Sometimes for moist/productive cough, avoiding milk or dairy products can help the cough,” she wrote.
According to Johnson, some over-the-counter medications that can help alleviate symptoms are Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Dextromethorphan (Delsym) and Guaifenesin (Plain Mucinex).
According to the CDC website, “Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.”
The website further explains that Dr. Acton strongly recommends those who are isolated or quarantined to take the following actions to help protect against the spread of the illness:
-Keep distance from household members. If it is possible, stay in one bedroom and use a bathroom the rest of the household does not use. When going around others, use a face mask and try to keep at least six feet away at all times. A healthy person in the house can make the meals and leave a meal outside the room being used for the ill person. Certain things should not be shared with ill people, including bedding, dishes, towels or water bottles. If these items are shared, wash between each use with soap and water.
-Unless it is necessary for medical care, stay at home and do not leave. If supplies are needed, ask family, friends, community entities, etc. to get the supplies and leave them at the front door.
-Visitors should be limited. If there are visitors, have them wash hands immediately after arrival and before they leave. Wear a mask and maintain at least six feet apart at all times. Those with a symptom of cough, fever or difficulty breathing should not visit.
-Disinfect high-contact areas routinely, including light switches, phones, sinks, doorknobs, remote controls, appliances, toilets, cabinets, etc.
-Limit contact with pets, although if contact is made, wash hands both before and after as well as wear a mask.
According to Johnson, those who are taking care of ill family members should use good hand hygiene before and after assisting the patient. A healthcare provider should be contacted if the patient becomes severely weak.
Those who are having difficulty with breathing or coughing can try sitting upright to assist with alleviating symptoms however, Johnson reiterated that shortness of breath should be evaluated.
Those with prior conditions, such as asthma, are recommended to have a plan of action in place and to know triggers for their condition so those triggers can be avoided. It is also recommended by the CDC to know how to use equipment, such as inhalers, and to clean and disinfect regularly.
”Please call the Adena Coronavirus Hotline at 740-542-SAFE if you are sick and have symptoms of what you believe to be COVID-19,” wrote Gentry. “A healthcare worker will review your symptoms and provide directions on what to do next. Individuals cannot simply show up and ask to be tested. As much as we’d like to do that, there just aren’t enough tests to do that. The Ohio Department of Health guidelines at this time mandate that we only test those patients ill enough to be hospitalized and healthcare workers who are providing care to the ill.”
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.