April 30, 2020
Dear Family & Friends,
As a healthcare provider at the forefront of regional efforts to “flatten the curve” and care for everyone in our community, many folks have asked me how they can help. My response to everyone is the same:
Educational resources: Choose one of the local public websites (links below)—read the content carefully, check frequently for updates, and contact your healthcare provider if you have questions.
COVID-19 symptoms: Familiarize yourself with symptoms that may represent COVID-19 illness—fever (100.0 F or above), new onset of cough or shortness of breath, loss of taste and/or smell, etc.—see websites for more details.
Follow the rules
Stay home: Shelter-in-place as instructed—no “cheating”. For those at especially high-risk (which includes nearly all of our oldest community members) if you really need something from the grocery store or pharmacy, for example, ask a lower-risk relative, friend, or neighbor to pick up the item for you.
Masking: Always wear your mask as instructed; your mask needs to fully cover your nose and mouth.
Hand hygiene: Frequently practice hand hygiene (good handwashing) and do not touch your face.
These “rules” are for everyone—no exceptions. These rules are especially important to protect those of us at higher risk, including healthcare workers, first responders, older folks with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, chemotherapy, and other immunocompromised patients, dialysis patients, and many other high-risk populations. High-risk folks need to rigorously follow the rules to protect themselves. Everyone else (including all young people) needs to follow the rules, too. Even though you personally may be “low risk” if you don’t take all necessary precautions you could become infected with COVID-19 (without even developing any symptom)—and then spread your infection to high-risk loved ones—your friend on dialysis, your neighbor on chemotherapy, your grandmother with diabetes, etc.
Know what to do
Your healthcare provider: Know how to contact your primary care provider (PCP) or another regular healthcare provider(s); if you do not have a regular healthcare provider, follow the instructions on one of the two public websites to find a PCP.
Contact information: Write down the name and phone number of the healthcare provider you will call if you develop symptoms. Especially if you live alone, share this information with a relative or friend—if you develop symptoms and suddenly are not sure what to do next—call the person you have chosen and they can remind you what to do—or make the phone call for you.
Thermometer: Best to have a thermometer, know how to use with and monitor your own temperature (even though you feel “normal”, taking your temperature several times each day is a good idea).
Symptoms: If you develop concerning symptoms, per public health guidance, call your healthcare provider before seeking treatment in person (an exception is 911 in a true healthcare emergency).
Provider Instructions: Carefully follow all self-isolation and other instructions; if you do not understand what you’re being asked to do, ask questions.
We are all in this together. Keep yourself and each other safe.
Dawn Riedy, MD
System Chair, Hospital Labs & Pathology
Rochester General Hospital, Chief, Pathology & Lab Medicine
Rochester Regional Health