How to Help Patients During COVID-19 Isolation
In these difficult times, when patients are avoiding even necessary procedures, such as laser treatments for vulvovaginal issues, there are a number of ways clinicians can assist them in staying healthy.
1. Help them have what they need. Ask if their medications are up to date or if they need refills.
2. Since staying inside day after day can lower vitamin D levels, and pre- and postmenopausal women are prone to accelerated osteoporosis, encourage patients to get outside a little bit each day if they are able. Talk with them about a vitamin D supplement.
3. Reinforce management of conditions that can be low on the priority list but are nevertheless bothersome, such as vaginal dryness. Let them know that Satisfem can be ordered online and sent right to their homes.
4. Lack of routine can lead to depression and neglect of self-care. Help patients establish a new daily normal and encourage them to prioritize wellness.
5. Give evidence-based advice. Even if your patients want to wear masks, no one can tell them how often they should change it. There is little evidence about long-term use of masks, as they were initially designed to be used in the short term and by clinicians and carriers of disease — not the worried well. Evidence from operating rooms shows that contamination — on the outside, not inside of the mask — becomes more severe with extended wearing time.
6. Prepare patients with friends or family who have contracted COVID-19 for the long-term picture. Respirators are designed for short-term use, and use of a respirator for longer than a week can stress multiple organs. The road to recovery might be lengthy, and the impact on families may be permanent.
7. Keep yourself safe. Beyond taking precautions to avoid getting infected, focus on optimal nutrition, sleep, exercise, and reducing anxiety — essentials for maintaining health for both physicians and patients.
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