Somehow each day feels incredibly different from the last. Today I felt for the first time like I caught my breath!
I went in to the office but the complete transition to telehealth meant that I was a lot more comfortable- being exposed to almost zero other people (I just sat by myself in an exam room) instead of 30+ is a big improvement.
In frustrating news, I spent a bit more time on social media this morning and saw a few posts of people doing things like taking close-group-selfies at the gym, and organizing massive group runs since races are cancelled. I’ve definitely been stressed but there are already other people (my public health colleagues, ER staff, ICU staff, urgent care staff etc) who have been incredibly taxed by COVID. I left a few comments (hopefully respectfully) asking people to reconsider but then I needed to walk away.
In MUCH brighter news, I have also been so impressed. People I don’t know (and many I do) have called/texted/emailed to check in. I’ve said over and over how supported I feel. Midway through the day one of my residents emailed me to say that the UBC medical students, who are now out of the hospitals indefinitely, have come together to offer childcare, office staffing, grocery pickups, etc., so that their staff docs can continue to work. France and Spain are clapping for their front-line workers from quarantine. Mister Rogers is reminding us to look for the helpers. Just seeing how this community can work together has warmed my heart and given me a calm energy.
And now, on to your questions from today!
If I am in self-isolation because of travel, can I go for a run/walk/get groceries?
Ideally, no. We know that being a returned travel is a major risk factor for developing COVID19. Even asymptomatic, you are considered a much higher risk of unknowingly transmitting the virus. And since it can live on surfaces, we need you as isolated as possible. I am very sorry about this because I know it will be hard, but this is our golden window to flatten the curve.
What if someone in my home is a returned traveler?
We also want a returned traveler to isolate from people in their homes as much as possible. This means a separate bed, separate bathroom, and separate living spaces as much as possible. If this is done really effectively, close household contacts can leave their homes while practicing very good social distancing.
What if we need something?
I’m so glad you asked. Call a friend/neighbour/family member and ask them if they can get it for you and leave it on the porch. Many pharmacies will deliver medications. Some grocery stores still have delivery, or you can consider a meal service. In Vancouver, consider SaveOn, Spud, UberEats, SkipTheDishes, or Foodora. If you’re young and healthy and haven’t traveled and feel well, call your neighbours! Check in and see if they need anything (from 6 feet away!).
If I am healthy and haven’t traveled, can I go for a walk? I’m going nuts!
Yes! If you have not travelled, and you are feeling well you absolutely can and should go out for a walk (or run). Try to stay away from other people, and try not to touch surfaces like traffic lights and railings. If you can maintain a distance of >6 feet, you can also consider a bike ride with a friend or neighbour. We are not recommending gathering in large groups because it naturally becomes more crowded.
Where can I access telemedicine?
You should be able to ask your family physician’s office for a phone appointment- our usual rules for using phone appointments have been significantly relaxed. If this is not an option and you need a prescription refilled, you can also ask your pharmacist. Pharmacists have temporarily been given permission to renew long-term medications without physician authorization. If neither of these work, you may be able to access a virtual walk-in clinic, but in general I discourage that because it significantly disrupts continuity with your usual doctor. You should try to avoid calling 8-1-1 or accessing urgent care, if you can.
How do I know if I need to be tested?
As our testing supplies and PPE (personal protective equipment) has begun to run short, we are asking people to take the online COVID self assessment test. This is being updated daily and will help you understand what steps to take if you’re feeling sick.
What else is the province doing to get ready?
We are maximizing hospital beds by cancelling all surgeries that aren’t medically necessary. We are sourcing PPE so that it’s available. We are calling all retired or non-registered healthcare providers to re-register so that they can help. We have expanded physicians’ telehealth permissions and pharmacists’ scope, like I mentioned above. None of this even comes close to the power of social distancing and appropriate isolation!
OK people- we’re in the magical window where we have an opportunity to nip this in the bud. See you tomorrow! xo
Social distancing graphic via Twitter, though I first saw it when my friend (and colleague!) Kristina posted it!