Young, Mason: Don't let virus keep you from regular health care

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Monica Mason

As this is being written, approximately 123,000 United States residents have died from COVID-19, the illness associated with coronavirus. More will die by the time it is published. Rather than the numbers declining, we regularly see days when new infection records are set.

The virus has jarred the world to a halt—everything from the economy to how we do business and govern ourselves. It’s changed how we live our lives. We’re suddenly pulled apart.

The world will never go back to being the same as it was a little less than three months ago.

We will never know the incalculable, hidden costs of COVID-19.

Parents hesitate about taking their children for well-child visits. Opportunities are missed for vaccinations and for providing answers to important questions parents need to discuss with health providers.

We’ll never know how many women will die from breast cancer because of mammogram appointments cancelled or unscheduled; how many people will develop colorectal cancer because of missed colonoscopies.

Individuals are facing a variety of mental health issues because of the increased stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some suffering from the illness of addiction seek solace from drugs they well-know will kill them. Overdose deaths are increasing.

KCEAA saw a 209% increase in overdose calls during the month of May 2020, compared to the same time period in 2019. There is a 260% increase in June compared to the same period in 2019.

Couples frustrated by financial worries and with too much down time are manifesting their frustration in violence. Domestic violence petitions are increasing.

Health care is changing. Traditional visits to a health care provider will never be entirely replaced, but there’s going to be more telemedicine. (Some may lack the necessary access and/or equipment to utilize telemedicine.) Health care providers are taking more precautions in their daily lives and practices and encouraging their patients to do so.

KCEAA’s Community Paramedicine team is busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing patients in their homes and ensuring social determinants of health are addressed: access to food, medications, transportation to and from doctors’ appointments, and other needs.

Humans are resilient.

We will pick up the pieces from the COVID-19 pandemic and figure out where to go from here. We will be arbiters of the new normal.

We are not invincible.

We are human.

Don’t be afraid to cry. This pandemic has made me cry in frustration and rejoice in the new friends I have made fighting it.

Don’t be afraid to be afraid. Realize you can’t fix everything, no matter how bad you want to.

I can’t say it enough.

Stay away from large gatherings, particularly indoors.

Wash your hands.

Use hand sanitizer.

Wear a mask.

Take back control.

Call the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department at 304-344-5243 to schedule immunizations for your school-aged children, or see your health care provider. We don’t need a measles outbreak on top of COVID-19.

We’re working every day to improve the processes already in place to keep our patients and our employees safe and healthy.

We’ve given 864 immunizations this year. By this time last year, we’d given 1,675. Because of COVID, KCHD immunizations are down by 50 percent. We need to increase those numbers.

Schedule routine health maintenance appointments for your diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, COPD, etc. Get your cancer screenings. Do not put it off. Your health is too valuable.

Frankly discuss any fears you may have with your health care providers. Ask about plans to protect patients’ health and safety.

Get some exercise. Walk through your neighborhood. Stroll Kanawha Boulevard when it is open for pedestrian traffic. Work in your garden.

Watch your diet. Dispatch the “COVID 15.” Don’t let it become the “COVID 30.”

Be consciously thankful. Appreciate first responders—the traditional doctors, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, health care providers, nurses, paramedics and police. Don’t forget the people working in grocery stores and the truck drivers transporting our food and the other items we need to get us through this tough time.

This pandemic is a tragedy. It will take us a generation to recover. Things will never be the same. Honor those who did not survive the pandemic by keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy and slowly taking steps to return to the world as we now know it.

Dr. Sherri Young is the health officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

Monica Mason is direcot of clinical services and education at the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority.

Funerals for Saturday, July 4, 2020

Hinzman, Mary - 3 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.

Payne, Gregory - Noon, Brookside Ministries, Mt. Carbon.

Spaur, Annette - 1 p.m., John H. Taylor Funeral Home, Spencer.