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LETTER: COVID complicates health care: Know where to go to get the care you need

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LETTER: A letterbox with the inscription Letter to the editor

Although we at Fauquier Health have noticed that more folks are presenting at the hospital with illnesses lately, we -- unlike some Virginia hospitals -- are not currently diverting patients from our emergency department because of an overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients.

This is a good time to reiterate to the community about where folks should go when they are experiencing symptoms or illnesses. By keeping community members educated on where they can go, we can keep more beds/rooms available for patients who are critically sick and are in need of immediate care.

Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in many new practices for hospitals, outpatient centers and medical offices. As we continue to move forward, life – and healthcare – look different, but Fauquier Health’s commitment to providing a broad range of healthcare services won’t change. As always, it is important to seek out the right level of care based on presenting needs.

Use your primary care provider during normal business hours for non-emergent conditions or symptoms.

Your primary care provider knows your medical history and should be your first line of defense for any illness or disease that isn’t a medical emergency. Think cough and cold, flu, stomach upset, chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure and more. They should also be your regular resource for preventive care, including annual wellness visits, routine vaccinations, smoking cessation, diet and exercise consultations.

It is safe to visit your primary care provider. You may notice that there are fewer people in the office than before. Many providers continue to intentionally spacing patient visits to support social distancing measures – in addition to masking and hand hygiene.

Your provider may also offer telehealth services in an effort to support social distancing while continuing regular patient care. Providers offering telehealth may do your visit over the phone or through video conferencing. Check your provider’s website or call their office to determine if telehealth is available and appropriate for your needs.

Use an urgent care or walk-in clinic for moderate/worsening symptoms when prompt primary care is not available or after normal business hours.

Using an urgent care or walk-in clinic is a great option if your primary care provider is not readily available, or if it is after normal business hours and your primary care provider’s office is closed. Urgent cares and walk-in clinics commonly treat people for cough and cold, flu, ear infections and allergies, skin conditions, minor injuries and more. Some urgent cares or walk-in clinics have X-ray capabilities onsite as well.

It is safe to visit urgent cares and walk-in clinics. Similar to your primary care provider’s office, you will most likely be asked to wear a mask during your visit. This helps to protect you, staff members and other patients. Some urgent cares or walk-in clinics may have digital wait-in-line tools to reduce your time spent in the waiting room. You can sign up for your slot ahead of time and arrive for your appointment.

Your local urgent care or walk-in clinic may be offering telehealth services during this time in an effort to support social distancing while continuing regular patient care. Providers offering telehealth may do a visit over the phone or through video conferencing. Telephone or check the website to see if this is an option.

Use your nearest emergency room for any medical emergency.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, have shortness of breath or are experiencing another medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room.

 To help prevent the spread of illness, you will be screened for fever and other symptoms of respiratory illnesses when you arrive. You will also be asked to wear a mask. It is important that you wear your mask until you are instructed to remove it by a staff member or until you are discharged. This helps to protect you, staff members and other patients.

It is critical that you seek emergency care if you are experiencing a medical emergency. We have procedures in place to protect the health and safety of our patients, staff members and visitors. Our standard infection prevention protocols help in preventing the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, year-round. It is safe to come to the hospital. Your life, or the life of a loved one, may depend on prompt emergency treatment.

Prioritizing your health and the health of your loved ones is important. By seeking out the appropriate level of care, taking advantage of telehealth visits when appropriate, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for wearing a mask, and practicing smart social distancing, you are making communities healthier. 

Sarah Cubbage

Director of marketing/public relations

Fauquier Health

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