Summer is coming to a close, welcome September! Fall has been in the air as well, and I certainly have been noticing the shorter days already.
As the new season arrives, we continue to be mindful of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Massachusetts numbers continue to be relatively low which is a reassurance. State officials will continue to monitor closely, especially as colder weather sets in and more people arrive back in the city of Boston.
Office Hours for Labor Day Weekend
Wellscape will be closed for a longish Labor Day Weekend: Friday, September 4 through Monday, September 6, 2020. During these days, I will be available for emergencies only. I will be available for routine issues again on Tuesday September 7, 2020.
Please be sure to have all refill requests in before the end of the day on Thursday.
Have a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend!
In-Person Office Visits at Wellscape
Per guidelines of the Phase 3 reopening, which started mid-July, I’ve reopened the office for limited physical exams. This can include wellness exams as well as evaluations of problems that require some hands-on examination. As much as possible, we can meet virtually in advance to avoid spending too much mask-time in my small office!
If you are having symptoms of acute illness that may be related to COVID-19 infection, or if you think you’ve been exposed, please reach out by text or phone.
For routine visits, per the established protocols:
Expect to receive a series of questions prior to the visit which help to assess your risk for COVID-19
Please wear a facial covering or face mask to the appointment
Expect to have your temperature taken when you come to your visit
Additional measures that are being followed by Wellscape Direct MD include:
Spacing out of appointments to allow ample time between visits
Thorough cleaning of all high-touch surfaces and equipment between each appointment
Availability of hand-washing and hand sanitizer
Posted attestation and signage encouraging standard protocols
Also, the PT group in the larger space outside my office also is following protocols, and has limited patient appointments
There’s a new pharmacy in town! It’s called Capsule and does not have a location, but rather comes to you (within a certain vicinity of Boston). They do take insurance, but also utilize coupons to try to provide lower pricing. My experience so far is that they’ve got a super convenient app and great customer service. They can’t always match the cheapest price around, but sometimes they are cheaper than the standard pharmacies.
They make it easy to sign up and to transfer your prescriptions if you want to give it a try. Or you can let me know if you want to try it when you’re next in need a medication refill.
There’s already a big push for flu vaccinations for the upcoming year. This is going to be especially important given the backdrop of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Flu vaccination, along with all the measures of physical distancing, wearing a mask, and hand & surface-washing will all help prevent spread of the flu.
You can get your flu shot at most pharmacies, minute clinics, and local flu clinics. If you are having difficulty finding a flu shot, please let me know so I can help!
Ongoing Measures to Protect You and Others from COVID-19
It’s generally thought now that the likelihood of spread between people comes from direct contact, that is, being in close proximity with someone who has it, whether or not they have symptoms. Poorly ventilated spaces and longer direct contact, especially in close proximity, with someone who has it, increases the chance of spread.
Which is why we continue to encourage:
Social Distancing (better said “Physical Distancing”)
Maintain physical distance from other people, at least 6 feet, especially if not wearing facial covering
When to Quarantine for COVID-19
The CDC offers guidance on knowing when and how to quarantine.
The struggle for available, timely, and accurate testing unfortunately continues.
That being said, there is more availability and the decision aids above in conjunction with conversation with your doctor can help decide if you should get tested.
There are a variety of tests now: the PCR test, antigen test, and antibody test. Some are rapid and some have to go to the lab; each test specifies if they take samples from the nasopharynx, mouth, nose, or blood. They all have their shortcomings, but along with assessing risks and symptoms, may be useful in determining next steps.
If you have a significant exposure or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and test negative, self-isolation protocols would still be applied.
Here is a list of testing sites available in Massachusetts:
Quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to arrival in MA; you must stay quarantined until you receive a negative test result
Failure to comply with these requirements can result in a $500 fine per day.
Stress and Supports
Feeling stressed out? Wishing the pandemic was over already/! You’re not alone!!
The level of stress from this pandemic continues. We continue to face a tremendous amount of unknowns, economic uncertainty, and complete disruption of life as we know it. Some are facing severe financial crisis, poor access to food and medicines, personal health crisis, and grief from worry for and loss of loved ones. Anxiety is at a high.
In the face of this, I’m encouraging everyone to take a deep breath. We can only control our own thoughts, emotions, and actions. We are all in this together. We do know that the measures above can help, so focus on the part you can play.
Additionally, this is a good time to work on self-care to stay healthy, manage chronic medical conditions, and help manage the stress:
Stay informed with reliable sources but LIMIT how much social media and news you watch pertaining to the pandemic.
Find a way to exercise, preferably on a daily basis. There are a lot of online opportunities for this!
Eat mindfully. Try to make healthy choices while acknowledging that there may be difficulty obtaining certain foods, and that we may all find some relief in some comfort foods.
Meditate, practice relaxation, deep breathing. There are a lot of apps and online programs that can assist with this.
Stay socially connected, virtually. Reach out to family and friends. Utilize facetime, zoom, and other apps to connect face-to-face.
Sleep: shoot for 7-9 hours. Stay on a schedule.
Limit caffeinated beverages, especially if you are feeling anxious.
Limit alcohol use. Alcohol can further mess with your mood and disrupt your sleep.
Stimulate your brain. Reading, puzzles, projects, conversations. Join an online forum on a topic that interests you. Find things to stimulate your thinking.
Be creative. Expressions of creativity can help manage stress as well as are good for the soul.
Laugh! Find a funny movie, read some jokes – laughter helps lift the mood and relieves stress!
Give back. Find ways to do things for others. If you know how to sew, make facial coverings for neighbors. As the saying goes, “perform random acts of kindness.” Donate, if you can. Send food or gift certificates to your local hospitals (check to see their preferences). Consider donating blood if you are not in a high-risk group.
The CDC has some recommendations along with a hotline if you are feeling in crisis: CDC Stress and Coping
There are a lot of meditation apps that can be helpful; Ten Percent Happier has done a podcast addressing “How to Handle Coronavirus Anxiety“ – worth taking a listen.
It’s important to take good care of yourself. We’ve done a good job in MA (and New England) in flattening the curve, and curbing the spread. But we are now in the marathon phase . . . so it’s a good time to establish good habits that can help preserve your health and well-being!
COVID-19 In the News
Race for the Vaccine
This topic is frequently in the news with good reason. There is hope that this can get us back to some semblance of normalcy. There is tremendous pressure, and influx of money, to select companies to produce a vaccine. While there has been some hopeful results, we also want to make sure that what is produced is effective outside of small samples of people or in the lab, and not harmful.
We remain hopeful, but meanwhile, we know what measures do work to minimize spread!
Be Wary of Methanol Hand Sanitizer Products
Methanol can cause serious side effects, so please check any hand sanitizer that you purchase for ingredients.
Please seek out reliable sources of information. There is a lot out there that is not! Doublecheck things before promoting. Ask questions. It is important to be critical consumers of internet and news information!