A LETTER FROM DR. BERRY concerning COVID-19
I want to address questions and concerns about the Coronavirus, aka COVID-19, and reassure you that we are here for you.
The most important take home message is that the virus cannot spread to you or anyone else if we all practice social distancing, at least for the next 15 days. I have read where you can carry the virus for this long without having symptoms, passing it along to people to whom you come within six feet. Pretty sobering thought. You could literally be causing the death of many people without knowing it just by being next to them!
To the extent that you can, STAY HOME.
That’s exactly what I would do, if I could. I would hunker down in my house if I weren’t a physician – or maybe hike the Appalachian trail for a few weeks. To the extent that you can, you should remain at home. If you don’t come near other people or if you do with a N95 mask, there is no way that you will get COVID-19 and no way that you could give it to someone else. This what we need all need to do for ourselves and for one another. This would stop the virus dead in its tracks, and then we could all return to our normal lives of going to work, school, sporting events, NPAC, etc. Some people can’t and shouldn’t stay home – I realize that. People who provide vital services such as in healthcare and the food industry should go to work.
We will be here during office hours, and I will be available on my cell phone after office hours. Go out only if absolutely necessary until the coast is clear. Most people who get infected will recover just fine and might not even know they had COVID-19. But for those over 50 years old and people with poor immune systems such as diabetics, this might literally be a matter of life and death. And this isn’t going to be forever – maybe a couple of weeks or a couple of months, max. This is the new normal for a while, so we all need to get used to it.
If you need items such as food or medicines, either have them delivered to you, do a drive by pick up, or if you need to go into a store use a mask (preferably a N95 mask if you have one but I believe that any mask is better than no mask at all). Blair has been to several public places today wearing a mask and has not seen anyone else doing so. That needs to change.
We are keeping abreast of information from the CDC and other sources so we will be better prepared to respond. As the speed of the infection rate is becoming exponential, it is almost certain that the virus will eventually show up in Greene County.
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Be aware that symptoms of just a runny nose and watery eyes are NOT symptoms of this virus. During this time of the year, it is probably allergies. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.*
• Fever – in fact, if you don’t have a fever you almost certainly are not infected with COVID-19 and there is no point in your being tested for COVID-19 and clog up the system. What temperature is a fever? Good question. It varies depending on the time of day, your age, and your individual baseline temperature. A good rule of thumb is 101°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can drop by here during office hours for a temperature check. If you don’t have a mask, stay in your car and we will come out to take your temperature. In the future when thermometers become available again, I recommend that you purchase one.
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
If you feel you may have the virus, please call the office during office hours and call or text my cell phone when we are not in the office. Obviously, if you are very short of breath or having chest pain, go directly to the ER. At this point, we are waiting to receive testing supplies for COVID-19 from our lab partner, Quest Diagnostics. We are on its waiting list. I don’t know for sure at this time who has test kits – perhaps the Greene County Health Department, but do you want to go there and get tested and possibly become infected when you weren’t before? We will post on Facebook when we have them.
Our office hours will be the same as usual. The staff will be wearing N95 masks to protect you in case we don’t know we’re infectious and to protect ourselves in case you are. We will continue to wipe down chairs, tables, toilets, etc. after each patient visit. We prefer all members to make appointments and keep them to spread out the influx of patients into the clinic. Patients with appointments will be given priority over walk-in patients. If you have a mask, bring it. We don’t have many masks left. If you don’t have a mask, and our rooms are occupied you will be asked to stay in your car until we do. We will not allow more than two people wearing a mask in the waiting room at a time, and we will place them as far as possible away from each other. All overflow patients will remain in their cars until we text or call them on their cell phone to come in. So make an appointment!
Please note that we are limited right now in our supplies. We don’t have many masks left or supplies left to disinfect the rooms between patients. We, too, were caught a little by surprise and we are in line with our suppliers to receive them. It is possible that I will eventually have to see you and treat you in your vehicle. If you just need refills, we can call them in for you or you can come by and pick them up. If it is a schedule 2 substance such as a narcotic painkiller or Adderall, we cannot call them to the pharmacy and you will need to stop by to pick the prescription up and take it to the pharmacy. If you don’t have a mask, we will bring the prescription out to your car.
We will keep you posted about the testing supplies for COVID-19 and whether we have the supplies necessary to be able to see you safely in the clinic. You can call ahead if you need to know this.
• Wash your hands frequently. Soap and water are fine for 20 seconds.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home as much as possible and especially if you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, burying your face in the crook of your arm by your elbow
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. That includes cell phones, ipads, computer keyboards, toys, countertops.
We are reminded that Jesus tells us “love your neighbor as yourself.” It is loving to protect your family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and yourself by following the recommended guidelines discussed above and the information contained in the links below.
We will keep you updated as things change. If you have other concerns and comments, please don’t hesitate to text, phone or email me.
423-639-9970 – office
We will regularly post relevant articles on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DirectMDGreeneville
This is the CDC’s main page
This tells how to manage your health at home
This tells how it spreads
This tells how to prevent it or keep from spreading it
Here is more info on symptoms
This tells you what to do if you get sick
An overview from the National Institute of Health