Coronavirus update 3/17/2020
In order to inform, educate, and hopefully reassure our local patients; I will attempt to offer weekly updates on this FB page in regards to SARS-CoV-2 (the Novel coronavirus subgroup that causes the disease COVID-19). With that painful terminology out of the way, I want to remind everyone that medical professionals are also learning new things each day about this virus. Those details are being released to the public around the same time we receive them. As an example; I am caring for patients and cannot check my email frequently to know the exact number of cases in Wyoming. So some of you may feel that you have more “facts” about this situation than I currently understand. But rest assured that I am feverishly reviewing the literature regarding the care of previous patients (such as those hospitalized in Italy) to understand the standard of care for treatment and testing. This past week, I have seen an increase of upper respiratory cases (cold, cough and occasional fever) in our community. I saw a child early last week with influenza B. I saw an aged adult with fever and cough last Thursday and when preliminary rapid tests returned negative; I did test the patient for COVID-19. The patient was quite ill which prioritized the testing so I received that result last Friday evening; approximately 30 hours after I tested the patient. It was negative. Some test turnaround times for mild cases may be up to 7 days. I am releasing this information to assist you; not to worry you. I AM testing patients. I currently have 8 test kits with more on the way so I am NOT testing every sniffle. I have to be judicious. I am using my clinical judgement and recognizing that someone with a cough can still have bacterial pneumonia or a pulmonary embolism (lung clot). I am NOT allowing this virus to cloud my care of the patient. I performed 3 new tests of upper respiratory panels and some COVID-19 tests on 3/16 to try to better understand what viruses could be circulating through our community. This will empower us with knowledge. We are a rural community so I feel that you should all be aware of the effort I am putting towards this rather than to withhold information until it’s released from the Department of Health. I will keep you informed as I obtain information. This is a large geographical county, so some patients may seek care elsewhere and then a positive case could be reported to me just as quickly as it is released to the public. It is important to socially distance ourselves. Fortunately; the local population is familiar and comfortable with that. I know many of you are in the midst of calving. You can still support your local merchants by making trips to the grocery store and Rancher’s Feed/Herren’s/Allbright’s True Value. They need your business. Try to make short visits and distance yourself from others by approximately 6 feet if possible. You can keep your hair appointments or pedicures as these are one on one visits. The owners understand they need to move appointments if they have illness. Order out from your favorite local Restaurant/pub. Try to avoid groups larger than 10 people. Get a gift certificate from Bloomer’s to use later if you are worried about browsing the store. Thankfully; we have many gentleman in this area of the world; and I have to ask you to refrain from shaking hands at this time. This will pass. We are trying to limit or slow the spread in order to reduce the burden upon our healthcare system. If you are sick with symptoms of fever or cough; you can manage with Tylenol/Motrin and over-the-counter antitussive (anti-cough) agents. You are welcome to be seen in the clinic if you have concerns for your health. We are open and here for the community’s needs. If you can manage symptoms on your own; please do so and stay at home until symptoms resolve. The staff is continuing to care for chronic conditions and acute issues that arise. You are welcome to contact us with questions. Wash your hands, be kind, check on neighbors/elderly; and continue your hard work and faithfulness that we all embrace within our local area.
Joleen Falkenburg MD Niobrara County Hospital Medical Director