Amidst the age of Coronavirus, it can be challenging to determine the best ways to navigate the healthcare system, particularly when you are not feeling well. Since we are all dealing with a novel virus, it can be difficult to navigate a quickly evolving system. However, there are a few steps that you can take to ensure that you get the care that you need and deserve. Here are a few ways to help you determine the best way to obtain the healthcare you need.
Know the symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, symptoms of the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) include fever, shortness of breath, cough, and breathing difficulties. Some patients have also reported an unexpected loss of smell and/or taste. The period of the appearance of symptoms can range from 2-14 days (https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/inaugural-who-partners-forum/coronavirus-poster-english-srilanka.pdf?sfvrsn=289dedc3_0). If you find that you are experiencing these symptoms, it is crucial to reach out to a healthcare provider to discuss these symptoms. Rush Hospital has a line open 24/7 to discuss symptoms.
Express Yourself. Knowing how to advocate for yourself, particularly during a pandemic, can help you survive. During a healthcare visit, it can be helpful to be able to provide specific details to your health care provider, such as knowing how long you have experienced symptoms. If you are coughing, how severe is the cough? Is it hard for you to breathe? Do you have any other previous conditions that may be contributing to your current symptoms? If you find that the healthcare provider is not taking your concerns seriously, consider reaching out to another healthcare provider for a second opinion.
Distinguish between mental and physical symptoms. During a time of global panic and uncertainty, stress levels can increase, which can also increase feelings of anxiety. Take care of yourself, reach out to a mental health provider if you feel that your stress is making it difficult for you to function. If you are feeling emotionally unsafe due to domestic violence, physicians may be able to provide resources. Either way, it is important, to be honest with your provider about what you are experiencing so that they can determine the best way to address all of your healthcare needs.
Take care of yourself and each other. While the healthcare system may be able to provide resources, ultimately, it is up to you to adhere to their recommendations and care for yourself and your community. It is normal to want to reach out to family during difficult times. Social distancing from family members who are traditionally a source of support but have other underlying medical conditions can be particularly difficult. Medical professionals are now encouraging individuals to care for vulnerable loved ones by finding new ways to connect. While group gatherings, such as in-person parties, are generally discouraged, there are other ways to care for those in need, such as dropping off groceries or giving their caregivers a break and offering to watch the house. You can also make phone calls and use technology to get social support as needed.
Remember that now is the best time to take care of yourself and your family, even if you are physically and mentally well.
For more information on health resources in your community, please check out the following:
Chicago Dept of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. Phone lines are currently staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m, 7days a week. Call the IDPH COVID-19 Hotline at (800) 889-3931 or email dph.sick@Illinois.gov
Rush Offers Video Visit Consultations for Coronavirus https://www.rush.edu/news/press-releases/rush-offers-video-visit-consultations-coronavirus
Video visits are available to anyone 18 and older. The flat rate for all video visits is $49. However, If a patient is found to be at risk for novel coronavirus, their appointment is free. Video visits are available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. For assistance connecting to a video visit, you can contact (312) 563-6600 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Chante Gamby, Contributing Writer