Coronavirus . . . Don’t Rush To The ER First

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The concern over the Covid-19 pandemic in Montgomery County is high, and as of Sunday, March 29 the health department has reported 40 tests administered with one positive case, as well as 29 returning negative and ten pending.

Local health care providers are urging caution and not just rushing to the emergency room or doctors office with flu-like symptoms. A runny nose, itchy eyes or aches and pains, may indicate  a bad cold or the flu, which doesn’t necessitate a COVID-19 test. 

 “Anyone with these symptoms should call their doctor or health care provider and discuss it over the phone,” nurse practitioner Donna Wiley said. “These symptoms could indicate the flu or just a bad cold.”  

“A high fever, shortness of breath, and a cough that just won’t go away are conditions that can be caused by the virus, but could also be caused by a variety of other factors,” Wiley said.  “We would want to know someone’s travel history or if they have had contact with people in areas where the coronavirus has been identified.”

The best advice for your health and the well being of the health care providers is to call ahead. The virus is extremely contagious, and doctors and staff need to protect themselves and other patients.   

If you think you might be infected, consult with your primary care doctor, if you have one. Don’t go to the doctor’s office or the emergency room without calling ahead. 

Your doctor will assess your symptoms by phone, get your travel history and listen to your concerns. If the doctor suspects the corona-virus, but your symptoms are mild, you’ll likely be advised to self-quarantine at home. 

The majority of cases are relatively mild, though the disease is more dangerous for the elderly with underlying medical conditions and people of any age with a compromised immune system. 

If you are around others, wear a face mask. Avoid sharing personal items, like dishes, and frequently clean counter tops, tables and other surfaces. Thorough hand washing with soap is essential.

There is no treatment for COVID-19, there’s nothing like Tamiflu for the flu, for example. Your doctor might write an order for a corona-virus test, but that doesn’t mean it will be honored if your hospital or government health entity decides you don’t fit their guidelines. 

People without a provider should call the Montgomery County Health Department to discuss their symptoms.

Emergency room doctors ask those who are worried, but well or have mild symptoms, to think twice before showing up at the ER. They worry that ERs, which already are seeing increasing numbers of patients, will be flooded, that doctors won’t be able to take care of the seriously ill and that health care workers might become infected.

People who have worsening shortness of breath, not being able to finish a sentence without taking a breath, should consider going to the ER or even calling 911. Older individuals with underlying conditions who get sick also should think about getting immediate care.

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