Part 1: Getting Care During a Pandemic
If you turn on the television right now, you will notice that the way media presents to you has changed. For example, a certain widely used American insurance company has been trying to emotionally manipulate the audience by playing sad music, showing sad clips and then ending the commercial by presenting themselves as the good guys who will support and help them. On the other hand, there are brands, like Popeye’s, who are honest and straightforward and tell the audience that even though they are living in unprecedented times, it doesn’t mean they have to miss out on the things that were a part of their regular life.
In a broader sense, due to the novel Coronavirus, society itself has changed. Movie theaters have shut down. TV shows have ceased production. Restaurants have either completely shut down or only offer delivery and/or pickup. Almost all sports and sporting events (including the Olympics) have been suspended and postponed. Live entertainment has almost completely shut down. The exceptions, like the WWE, have changed their format, going from holding shows in 15,000 audience capacity arenas, to taping weeks worth of shows in an empty training center. Schools and colleges have changed their teaching methods to one that is done online.
But the biggest change has been how the healthcare industry functions. Take for instance, a personal anecdote. At the start of March, I visited my primary care physician, because I had hurt my hip doing Crossfit and no matter what, the pain would not go away. This was at the start of the Coronavirus becoming something that people were paying attention to. But they weren’t taking it seriously enough that any precautions were being taken. When I was in the waiting room, there were almost a dozen people, crammed into a tiny room and no one was wearing any sort of facial covering or observing social distancing.
During my visit, I was told to get an X-ray and a CT scan. Due to the world (or at least the United States) turning on its head, I had to keep postponing my appointment. Finally, this week, I made an appointment with a widely used radiology lab. I had visited this lab previously. Usually, finding parking was a chore. This time, I found a spot right in front of the building. I also noticed that almost 95% of the parking lot was empty. In normal circumstances, when I would go into the radiology center, I would sign in and take a seat. The center would usually be at least half way full (about 12-15) people. Today, when I got to the door of the radiology center, they had a notice that asked the visitor to wait outside and to text them, so that they can confirm the appointment and then let the visitor in. In the center, not counting the staff, I was the only visitor.
After the test, I called my primary care physician to make an appointment to follow up and see what was the issue I was dealing with. I was told that the same care center that had packed in almost a dozen people a few weeks ago, had ceased in-patient visits. Instead, they would only be providing care through telemedicine.
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Look at the contrast of how things have changed in just under two months. While every part of society is suffering, it is the medical industry that has been affected the most. As the U.S. death rate continues to be over at least a 1000 every day, with total number of deaths predicted to go over 50,000 by the end of the month and the state of New York single handedly having more Coronavirus related deaths than every country except France, Spain and Italy, the US healthcare system has been put under more pressure than it has ever had to face before.
On top of this, they also have been handicapped by a severe shortage of necessary medical equipment and a shortage of healthcare professionals. Social media has shined a spotlight on this, as there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures posted on Instagram of healthcare practitioners having extremely sunken in and discolored areas on their face from wearing protective masks for hours on end. There have been videos posted, where healthcare providers have had full blown breakdowns and explaining, in tears, that the current healthcare system is just not prepared to meet the needs that have come up due to the Coronavirus.
But despite it all, they continue to protect and treat people against the Coronavirus. And while the numbers are terrible and, reportedly, will get even worse for a while, the curve has been flattened by the healthcare professionals in the United States. At one point, there was a very really worry that there could be deaths in the millions in the United States. While it is still tragic, the current estimate is only 61,000.
So, if there is any takeaway from this article, here’s the bullet points on how to get care during a pandemic.
- Try to avoid getting sick. Follow social distancing. If possible, stay indoors. Wash your hands. Cover your nose and mouth.
- If you are sick or suspect that you’re sick, get tested. Drive thru testing has become prevalent in most major cities.
- If you are confirmed to be sick, make sound judgements. In most people’s cases, they don’t feel any symptoms and they don’t need any sort of care. In cases like those, stay indoors. While you may not be affected seriously by it, you might pass it on to someone else and it might be a serious problem for them.
- If you have non Coronavirus related health issues, consider the issue carefully before attempting to get help. As established, healthcare providers are overwhelmed currently. Adding on to that will only stress them out even more. Also, you could be taking time away from someone who needs immediate care.
- Try to maintain a sense of normalcy and keep to your routine. While you might not be able to go to the gym, you can workout at home. Even if you can’t see your friends face to face, you can still facetime them or have group video calls. Don’t stay up till 3 AM, playing PUBG.
So, the key takeaway from this article is that you should practice self-care. If you are smart about it, you can greatly reduce your chances of getting sick and/or getting someone else sick. The faster we can flatten the curve, the sooner we can return to our daily lives.
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