Tips to keep you and your family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic
Author: Dayna Stroik
April 03, 2020
If news surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic has you worried about every scratchy throat or runny nose, you're not alone. Luckily, there are trusted resources and science-backed facts to help you stay healthy, keep your family safe, and determine your next steps.
St. Francis' Jan Ruhland, a registered nurse and the hospital's infection prevention lead, offers insight on how to push through the current climate, and minimize your risk of getting sick.
Q. What is the single most important tip you'd give someone worried about getting or spreading COVID-19?
A. I would say the most important thing to do is to wash your hands. All. The. Time. I cannot stress that enough. Also, it's really important to be conscious of where your hands are at in relation to your body...avoid touching your face. Many people touch their faces all day long, without even realizing they're doing it. Since that is a large part of how this virus is spread, it can’t be overstated.
Q. What if someone needs general care, or needs to see a doctor for something unrelated to COVID-19?
A. Many clinics and providers have changed their ways of conducting office visits temporarily. My suggestion would be that they call their primary care clinic to find out options for care. Some clinics are providing virtual visits over the phone or computer, some have limited in-person hours, and some are closed completely. Calling the clinic's main line should give them more information on how to get care. There are also multiple options for virtual care in our community that don't require calling the clinic, at the websites below:
Q. What does "social distancing" mean to you as a nurse, an infection preventionist, a mother and a community member?
A. Social distancing is critical right now. As social beings, it's hard for all of us to remember to keep our distance from other people, as it's in our nature to stand close to someone we care about, join in on conversations and send our kids on play dates.
As a community, we have to practice social distancing, which means we may feel rude for not gathering with our neighbors, or for avoiding acquaintances if we need to visit the pharmacy and for turning down our children's requests to see their friends. It's all of our responsibilities to keep our distance because we really don't know if we have the virus that we could spread to our loved ones, or if someone else has it that could spread it to us.
For our nurses and health care staff, it's life-saving in two ways. First, the more we distance socially for our health care workers, the more able they'll be to care for those coming to the hospital for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related care. Second, if the public is staying home, and distancing socially from one another, the spread slows exponentially, which protects our health care staff and minimizes the chance that they'll contract COVID-19 from an acquaintance and spread it to the patients they care for. That slower spread also helps avoid a huge surge of patients which could overwhelm hospital capacity across our state.
Q. Where can the community get information on what to do if they're sick, or how to protect their families?
A. With information about COVID-19 running rampant across the media and other avenues, it's important to refer to trusted organizations for facts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a wonderful gallery of information that can be printed, in multiple languages like Russian, Spanish and Somali, among others. You can find that here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/factsheets.html.
Otherwise, you can certainly rely on our community health care systems, as they are in close, constant contact with organizations providing trusted facts. St. Francis is supported by two local systems which both have web pages dedicated to COVID-19:
- Allina Health | allinahealth.org/coronavirus
- HealthPartners Park Nicollet | healthpartners.com/coronavirus
Q. Any parting words?
A. Stay home! Take advantage of this extra, forced time with your families! You can go on walks with your family, you can sit outside and enjoy the unseasonably nice Minnesota weather. You can start new hobbies with your family, craft, play catch, binge new shows, cook new foods, etc. Just stay home. Only go to the grocery store or the pharmacy if absolutely necessary, but stay at least six feet from others. If you can get something delivered, order it online. If you want to support local restaurants, order curb-side pickup and keep your distance when picking it up. There are many ways to take advantage of this time, at home.