As of today, there has still been only one documented case of COVID-19 in Douglas County but I believe there will be more identified as we actually test for this disease. The one identified in the press does not work for Evergreen Family Medicine. But if they did, we would openly support that person since a pandemic is not the fault of any individual. Additionally, health professionals and staff at Evergreen who are ill for any reason are asked to remain at home and not risk exposure to our patients or community.
I am grateful of Evergreen Family Medicine’s team of professionals and staff who have acted in innovative ways to serve our community. Below are some of the positive steps that Evergreen have taken to meet the challenge:
We continue to be an important access point for health care in our community.
We are offering car waiting and triage to isolate ill patients from our waiting rooms.
Masks are being placed on ill patients outside the clinic setting before entering the building to receive more care.
Designated spaces within our clinic are being used to evaluate patients with respiratory complaints.
We are sending Evergreen personnel to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as those entities are on lock down and we want to reduce exposure to this vulnerable population.
We have increased physician staffing for hospitalized patients.
We are initiating tele medicine visits to see patients in their homes.
Evergreen is using personal protection equipment judiciously but appropriately.
Evergreen members have volunteered in so many ways in our community – including staffing the public health hotline.
Our staff has recently handled over 4,000 Evergreen calls/day to address questions and concerns of our patient community.
The above measures have reduced the demand on important hospital emergency resources.
English philosopher, Francis Bacon wrote in the 16th century of his observation that persons with fortitude will not be shaken by adverse changes in their circumstances whereas a person who is fearful will suffer much. I recognize there are a lot of people selling fear right now. It is not helpful.
There will be a marked increase in the number of COVID-19 cases identified going forward because we are just now rolling out more testing capacity. This does not necessarily mean we have a nation-wide spike in cases of COVID-19. It likely means that we are just better at identifying the disease. The virus has already spread across the United States. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, we will have an antibody test to better gauge the true denominator of this disease- including those who experienced no or minimal symptoms. If that is the case, we will likely understand publicly that the mortality and morbidity rates are overstated by the World Health Organization and CDC. It is understood that there has been an adverse selection bias in our previous CDC testing process. I hope that antibody testing will also provide reassurance to those who have immunity and we can deescalate our quarantine efforts soon.
In the meantime, it is important to keep our most vulnerable safe and use reasonable precautions to reduce the spread of disease. Evergreen will remain a community partner to help weather this storm. At this time, I would urge everyone to support our local businesses and temporarily unemployed persons as they are impacted by the significant but hopefully brief, disruptions to our economy.
John Powell M.D.