The Covid-19 pandemic is requiring people, especially the elderly, to make potentially life-and-death decisions, daily. Do I visit my out-of-town family, how do I get there, and even more basic, is it safe to go shopping or to meet someone for lunch today?
For healthcare professionals caring for the elderly, Covid-19 decision-making can be even more complex. Along with the elderly and their families asking for advice on avoiding infection, they want advice on healthcare facilities. Is it safe to go to the hospital, and for what? And maybe most difficult, they want help making informed, objective decisions about long-term care facilities.
Health care professionals have an ethical obligation to use the most current health care science and data. For Covid-19, the primary sources of that information should be local, state and national public healthcare agency websites (.gov sites). Policy and politics aside, all of us have an obligation to actively support the continued objective and unbiased reporting of public healthcare science and data.
There are many types of Covid-19 data and key is data on the local community, since most transmission and infection occurs locally. Local data are often reported by county or zip code and include number of cases and deaths per week, percent of the population testing positive, and whether rates are increasing or decreasing. Health department/agency sites also provide data on long-term and other healthcare facility infection and death rates, including ‘hot spots’.
With the internet, it’s now impossible to review all available information. Instead we must focus our internet searches and avoid relying on social media as a primary source of information. Health departments, in collaboration with larger academic healthcare centers, should be our primary sources. The only way we will make it thru this pandemic and minimize suffering and death will be with objective data, science and expert healthcare guidance. Our lives and those of our loved ones depend on it.
For Virginia Covid-19 information and data, please go to: www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/.
And if not already, please be sure that you or your loved ones still get your flu shots for the 2020-2021 flu season. You can catch both the flu and Covid-19, a potentially deadly combination. For more information, please go to: www.helpadvisor.com/conditions/flu-vaccine-resource-guide