Navigating health care and “clinics” in the time of pandemic

Note: since I live in the United States, this post is more applicable to our health care system.

During this difficult time, a lot of businesses are being asked or ordered to shut down, and some — understandably fearing financial ruin — are coming up with creative ways to claim they are “essential businesses”. One especially egregious tactic I recently discovered is businesses claiming to be “health clinics”.

What can we do to keep ourselves safe and avoid “health clinics” that might put us and others at risk? Even more importantly, how do we make difficult health care decisions during this time?

Here’s what I’m asking before I venture into any hospital, doctor’s office, or “health clinic”:

1. Are they a legit health care facility? If so, they will be following CDC guidelines as briefly summed up here:

Public Health Reminder

Healthcare facilities and clinicians should prioritize urgent and emergency visits and procedures now and for the coming several weeks. The following actions can preserve staff, personal protective equipment, and patient care supplies; ensure staff and patient safety; and expand available hospital capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Delay all elective ambulatory provider visits
  • Reschedule elective and non-urgent admissions
  • Delay inpatient and outpatient elective surgical and procedural cases
  • Postpone routine dental and eyecare visits

2. Is this a life or death emergency? Would it be dangerous for me to move the injured or critically ill person? If so, I’m going to call 911.

3. Is time not of the essence? Am I unsure whether or not this warrants an ER visit? Then I’m calling the primary care physician for advice.

4. Is this ongoing treatment truly necessary? Unless told otherwise by their physician, no one should stop chemo, kidney dialysis, etc. Thankfully, neither my loved ones nor I need life-sustaining treatments at this point, nor are we fighting acute, life-threatening diseases. And the latter is exactly what we are trying to avoid.

5. If my health condition needs attention but is not an emergency or crisis, and I don’t require life-sustaining treatment, do I really need to risk myself and others by being seen in person? More and more doctors’ offices and legit health clinics are doing phone consultations or practicing telemedicine.

6. Will I be using time and resources better spent on those whose need for care is more crucial? I don’t want to be the cause of one less patient being seen or one less set of available protective gear unless I really, really need medical attention.

If the “health clinic” is legit, they won’t even want to see me for anything that is routine, elective, or non-urgent. But what if they aren’t following the CDC guidelines? I can only draw one of three conclusions:

  1. The people running that “health clinic” are woefully ignorant and have not even bothered to educate themselves about how to best protect their patients during this crisis. In that case, I have zero confidence in their ability to meet any of my health care needs, let alone protect me from disease or harm, and will not seek out their services now or in the future. 
  2. The people running the “health clinic” are familiar with the guidelines and educated enough to comprehend why they are necessary, but are callously choosing to ignore them, not caring who their actions put at risk. Frankly I cannot imagine anyone in the health care field being so despicable.
  3. They are actually another business entity only pretending to be a “health clinic” in order to stay open. Anyone willing to risk my community in such a deceptive way — and potentially not only my life and health but that of my loved ones — is someone I will avoid and encourage others to do the same.

 

Addendum, from the California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response website:

Health care and helping sick relatives

What if I need to visit a health care provider?

If you are feeling sick with flu-like symptoms, please first call your doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center. 

If you need to go to the hospital, call ahead so they can prepare for your arrival. If you need to call 911, tell the 911 operator the exact symptoms you are experiencing so the ambulance provider can prepare to treat you safely.

What about routine, elective or non-urgent medical appointments?

Non-essential medical care like eye exams, teeth cleaning, and elective procedures must/should be cancelled or rescheduled. If possible, health care visits should be done remotely.

Contact your health care provider to see what services they are providing.

May I still go out to get my prescriptions?

Yes. You may leave their homes to obtain prescriptions or get cannabis from a licensed cannabis retailer.

Can I leave home to care for my elderly parents or friends who require assistance to care for themselves? Or a friend or family member who has disabilities?

Yes. Be sure that you protect them and yourself by following social distancing guidelines such as washing hands before and after, using hand sanitizer, maintaining at least six feet of distance when possible, and coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue and then washing your hands. If you have early signs of a cold, please stay away from your older loved ones.

Can I visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility?

Generally no. There are limited exceptions, such as if you are going to the hospital with a minor who is under 18 or someone who is developmentally disabled and needs assistance. For most other situations, the order prohibits non-necessary visitation to these kinds of facilities except at the end-of-life. This is difficult, but necessary to protect hospital staff and other patients.

 

 

Too much weekend! | Move it Monday

The holiday weekend was wonderful — so wonderful, and so full of celebratory feasting, that I was reluctant to step on the scale this morning. Sure enough, some of those pesky pounds I’d worked off had returned to haunt me…or taunt me…I’m not sure which. Of course, it’s not like this came as a complete surprise; I hadn’t even made an effort to eat sensible portion sizes, nor had I bothered logging my food intake.

Back when I’d lost what was for me a substantial amount of weight, I had worked with a fitness trainer who insisted I kept track of everything that I ate. There were things I was tempted to eat, but didn’t just because I didn’t want her to tease me about them, or point out how many empty calories they contained and what it would take to work them off.

I no longer have my fitness trainer, but I do have this great app:

MyNetDiary app — the editorial comment about my weight is mine.

MyNetDiary app — the editorial comment about my weight is mine.

For more info, you can visit their website at mynetdiary.com

What I like about the app and website, besides its ease of use and the detailed and useful info it generates for me, is that it links to my Fitbit account. All in all, it’s very customizable and as comprehensive as I could ever want. Even though I don’t have diabetes, I would recommend it to those who do, because it has a special module that looks excellent.

It’s very easy to log my meals because the food database is HUGE. I can scan bar codes, search the database, or enter my own foods and recipes. I’ve tried various other food-logging apps in the past, and this is the only one I want to keep using. It also gives me the most detailed summaries of whatever nutritional data I care to track.

This was today’s lunch:

image

And now I’m off to the gym!

Do not get weary | Move it Monday

I posted this on my previous blog on 2/21/2008:

Do not get weary…

Many mornings, as I force myself to get out of bed and head off for my morning exercise, it is a huge struggle. Huge. I am weary. I am lazy. I want my bed. I want a life of easiness, indulgence, sloth…

So I remind myself of the healthy weight range for someone of my size and bone structure: 114-127 pounds. I’m not there. Yes, I could make all sorts of excuses. Those are just numbers on a scale! I’m athletic, and muscles weigh more. All the women in my family have thyroid problems (two have had to have thyroid surgery) and I’m sure my thyroid is probably out of whack, so who can blame me for extra pounds?

But the truth is right in front of me…and right behind me. I’ve indulged myself too much this past year in food and in laziness. The extra weight is there for a reason — my gluttony and my sloth put it there.

I remind myself of my tiny bird bones and of how I don’t want to end up with a broken hip in a few years. I can still add to my bone density, but it will take work. Hard work. But, at my age, should I really risk doing less than what it takes?

I remind myself of diabetes. I’m a ticking time bomb. I know what I need to do to make myself healthier and less at risk.

I remind myself of my children. None of them are married yet. Some are still quite young. I don’t want to be one of those grandmas who is too feeble from years of unhealthy living to play an active role in the lives of my future grandchildren. I don’t want to continue setting a bad example for my children. If I am someday dependent on them for care due to my own physical limitations, I don’t want it to be for diseases and health conditions that I brought upon myself.

I remind myself of my husband. Yes, his example in this area is not one to follow. No, he doesn’t support and encourage me in exercising good stewardship over the body God has given me. In his perfect world, I could be as gluttonous as the day is long and, without doing a thing, somehow be transformed into a delightful person who is fit and trim and movie-star-gorgeous. I know it will not happen. I also know, realistically, that at my age and with my looks, it is really not good for my marriage for me not to be in the best possible shape that I can. I can’t be movie star gorgeous, even if I went to the best plastic surgeons of the bunch. Then there is my age — I’m turning 50 next month. The best I can do is to age well and the best way that I can do that is to be healthy and fit. And that takes work. Constant work. But how can I do anything less for a husband who does so much for me and overlooks so many of my faults?

I remind myself of God. He made me. He gave me this body. Yes, he looks at my inward heart, and I don’t think the numbers on the scale matter as much to Him as they do to me. But…if He looks at the inward heart…that means He sees my laziness, my gluttony, my desire to indulge my appetites, the way I’ve used food to avoid turning to Him…that is so much uglier than any amount of fat my body could possibly carry.

So I drag myself out of bed. I force myself to exercise. I pray for God’s help in overcoming temptation. I keep track of what I eat. I do it so that I will be healthy and more energetic. I do it for the children I teach, so that I may lead by example. I do it for my own children. I do it for my husband. I do it for God.

But I still have to do it.

It’s discouraging how I’ve ended up back in a very similar state! However, some things have changed, besides my age. I now have two granddaughters as motivation. My husband has become more concerned about his own health and fitness, as have several of my kids. In fact, the youngest recently joined a gym, where he is being whipped into shape by one of his older brothers.

So I have less excuse.

I needed this reminder. I also need to remember that I succeeded last time, and can succeed again. It may be more difficult, but that just means I need to work harder.

And now it’s time to get ready for the gym.

Move it Monday: bodily exercise profits little

Well, yes and no. I don’t think 1 Timothy 4:8 can be interpreted as telling us not to waste our time with fitness and exercise. Certainly we are to be good stewards of the bodies God has given us. At the same time, there is no Scripture telling us that fitness is next to godliness, either.

I’ve had a number of wake up calls over the past few years, and I’ve been forced to face the toll that the life I’ve lived…and am living…has taken on my aging body. I’m way past my prime; whenever that supposedly was, I think I may have missed it.

Without getting all whiny over relatively trivial aches and pains, I can sum things up by saying that normal wear and tear plus a minor injury or two kept me from being as active as I’d like to be. This went on for long enough that I’ve lost energy, range of motion, flexibility, balance, strength, and motivation. I’ve been slowly easing back into being more active.

Now it’s time to get more serious. I’m tired of feeling blah. I’m tired of the weight I’ve gained. I’m tired of my poor eating habits and semi-sedentary ways. For a couple weeks now, I’ve been gearing up for today, the first of what I decided to dub “Move it Monday”. Here’s what I’ve done:

  • This morning, I started a new workout regimen at the gym.
  • I’ve eaten healthily all day so far.
  • I’ve kept busy and active.
  • I’ve surpassed my daily step goal.

It feels good. I don’t expect to turn back the clock or whip myself into some incredible shape. Mostly, I want to be fit and energetic enough to play with my grandchildren, enjoy long hikes, go on teaching karate for a while longer, and stay as healthy as possible. Oh, and fit back into my clothes…