Coronavirus Tips From an Emergency Physician

Braden Hexom - Open GraphBraden Hexom, MD, is an emergency physician at Rush University Medical Center, which is preparing for a sharp increase in patients with COVID-19. He shared the following tips about the coronavirus.

Here are my recommendations for those of you wondering what you should do about COVID-19. I won’t go over the obvious — just my thoughts from a week on the inside. Hopefully there’s something useful in here:

  1. None of you should want to come to get a coronavirus test. Simply standing in line puts you at risk. Especially if you are currently healthy and don’t need to be there. Getting a test shouldn’t change anything about how you prepare or act in the next few weeks.
  2. Don’t come to the ER unless you are HAVING AN EMERGENCY. That means you are having difficulty breathing or you can’t keep down any food or water. If you have a cough, sore throat, or feel crummy, you already know what to do. You don’t need an ER for that. Call your doctor. Better yet, call your mom.
  3. If you do have concerns or questions, do a video visit. Many large medical centers are doing these now. Your local public health office likely already has a hotline or process for fielding questions. Use them.
  4. Stop buying toilet paper, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes in bulk. Someone else needs those, and it’s probably not you. If you have a sink and soap, you have all you need.
  5. Rethink your flu shot for next year. Chances are, if you have a cough, you may actually just have the flu, which is still widely present. You might have not had it altogether if you’d received your flu shot. And next year’s flu may be worse than this year’s coronavirus. We never know, that’s why we keep on working to make these better, every year. Whatever you are afraid of by not getting the flu shot is nothing compared to this.
  6. Have honest, open discussions with your children, family, older parents, etc. I’ve found that some of the best conversations I’ve had about the current pandemic have been with my kids. And we all need each other right now, especially when we’re asking everyone to shrink their community to the bare minimum. Make sure your kids are reassured. Check on your older relatives and make sure they have food.
  7. Buckle up for a longer period of uncertainty than you are used to. I don’t know what next week will look like. It might be better. It might be worse. It will be like trying to buy the right stock right now. Just relax, slow your life down, enjoy the moments you are having with your loved ones or simply at home. Read a good book.
  8. If you get seriously ill, we are here for you. But the only way I do my job at the top of my abilities is if you are truly sick. If I’m spending most of my day counseling you on why you don’t need a coronavirus test, then I’m not helping the ones who might be standing behind you in the screening line with an oxygen saturation of 79%.

Take care of each other. Take care of yourselves.

3 thoughts on “Coronavirus Tips From an Emergency Physician

  1. Thank you for your straightforward info. Hopefully, people will follow your advice.
    Take care of yourself, too.

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