Dear Patients and Friends:
You are likely seeing stories of people who went to urgent cares or physician's offices and were turned away from being seen. I read one of a man that ended up in the hospital due to COVID-19 with pneumonia. He was upset because an urgent care saw him but did nothing for him. And I don't blame him. It is upsetting to not have anywhere to go or anything to help you. And no idea of why we are being turned away or having nothing done. But as an urgent care provider, I understand why "nothing was done" for this patient.
Here is the problem in a nutshell: this is a virus. There is no cure. Just like the common cold has no cure. But at least with the common cold, I can treat the symptoms. With COVID-19, I am limited to the symptoms I can treat. I cannot treat you with mild or medium symptoms. I cannot give you a nebulizer treatment for shortness of breath because it aerosolizes the virus and I do not have a negative pressure room to contain it. I cannot give you steroids because it exacerbates the virus. My hands as a provider are tied. If I let you in my clinic in order to try to give you some symptom management medications, then my clinic will be infected and I have no PPE, no Lysol, no sani-wipes, nothing to protect myself or anyone else.
I feel helpless....I am helpless in that I only have my words and my heart to make you feel better. I cannot even give you a hug because of social distancing and not wishing to spread virus (which is so hard for a person like me...I am a hugger).
These are frightening times. You will have to stay home and care for yourself or your loved one until you either get pneumonia and cannot breathe or you get well. This is where we are at at this time. Any medications that you may be hearing are helping are reserved for the sickest of the sick or have no proven efficacy. And I cannot access them and neither can you. At this time you will not get tested without severe symptoms. (update: CDC released new guidelines today for testing)
COVID-19 Symptoms (You do not have to have all and DO NOT have to have fever!):
Shortness of breath...late sign
GI symptoms, such as diarrhea
Loss of sense of taste or smell
If you are sick...assume it is the virus. Stay home! If you have symptoms of a cold, URI or flu, stay home. This is the hardest thing to do, especially when you are afraid. But you will not get any treatment until it is severe, because there is no treatment. If you are not sure about your symptoms, call ahead to an urgent care or clinic and ask if it is something that you can come in for.
Please help stop this virus. You can have it with no symptoms and be spreading it.
Protect my mom and yours by staying home. Seek help when your symptoms are severe. Yes, you will be afraid for your life. We are all fighting for our lives at this moment.
If you are afraid and do not know what to do, ask me and I will try to help you. But please know that your family will be your caretakers at home until it is severe.
God help us all.