First line of defense should be a phone call, health experts advise.
Early on in the outbreak of the coronavirus disease COVID-19, experts began advising people that if they get sick, they shouldn’t necessarily run to the nearest hospital emergency room. Why? Because hospitals don’t need a bunch of people bringing the highly contagious disease into their ER waiting rooms, putting other patients at risk.
Calling a doctor first reduces that danger, as well as the risk of infecting other people on the way to hospital, particularly others using public transportation.
“If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early,” says the World Health Organization. “Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.”
The WHO advises that national and local authorities “will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.”
An organization called MyCatholicDoctor is offering online consultations for anyone who is worried about having COVID-19. “MyCatholicDoctor is a nationwide medical practice that brings a team of faithful medical professionals to patients through video-based health consultation on almost any smartphone, computer or tablet,” according to the group’s website. “We can initiate your medical care virtually, order labs, and send prescriptions to any pharmacy of your choice. Most of the time we can take care of all of your needs through convenient, affordable virtual care. If in-person care is necessary, our providers will invite you to be seen in their office or refer you to a local provider they trust and recommend.”
MyCatholicDoctor says it has established an “always-on-call infection control officer, COVID-19 specific workflows to guide clinical operations and quality, and has established a COVID-19 Readiness Team.”
“As recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within their Preparing Communities for Potential Spread of COVID-19 action plan, leveraging telehealth tools to direct people to the right level of healthcare for their medical needs should be part of first responders’, healthcare providers’, and health systems’ response to this global outbreak,” the organization says.
“Telehealth is ideal for the initial screening of patients with respiratory conditions that are common in COVID-19,” said Kathleen Berchelmann, MD, Chief Medical Officer at MyCatholicDoctor. “Our board-certified telehealth providers are trained to screen patients, assign risk, answer questions, prescribe medications, and recommend the next steps a patient should take. For most patients we can help the patient heal at home. However, when necessary, we can facilitate a ‘white glove’ transfer for in-person care. This method of transfer avoids additional possible exposures and allows patients rapid-access to in-person care when necessary.”
MyCatholicDoctor says it practices “evidence-based scientific medicine from a Catholic perspective” and integrates Catholic spirituality into care as appropriate to the situation.