Health officials encourage having a primary care doctor amidst COVID-19

A primary care physician can be used for the usual check ups, minor emergencies but also COVID-19 issues.
Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 5:44 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Alabama has seen a strain on hospitals around the state since the holidays led to a surge in COVID-19 cases, that includes emergency rooms. Health officials say that’s why it’s more important than ever to have a primary care doctor to treat moderate symptoms of COVID-19. Otherwise your options may be limited.

“Having an established relationship with a primary care physician is extremely for your health overall,” Dr. Justin Hovey, MD, Medical Director for ACOM Ashford Clinic, said.

A primary care physician can be used for the usual check ups, minor emergencies but also COVID-19 issues.

For one. patients can get tested on an outpatient basis. If positive, they can monitor you and follow up with how you are progressing with the illness.

“Utilizing the emergency room as your area of primary care is not appropriate because the emergency room should be reserved for people who are in emergent situations,” Dr. Hovey said.

When it comes to treating COVID-19, patients with mild to moderate symptoms and other health issues may be eligible for the Monoclonal antibody.

“We actually here at ACOM Ashford have been writing the Monoclonal antibody for our patients and have been successful in keeping them out of the hospital,” Dr. Hovey said. “If you don’t have that relationship though with your primary care physician, emergency room physicians will not be able to do that for you, so the monoclonal antibody is an extremely important treatment that we have right now against covid.”

Moderate symptoms include fever, chills, some shortness of breath, cough, or loss of taste and smell.

“A lot of times when we say mild, sometimes there’s a spectrum of disease with covid, so some people may start out with mild and then progress through moderate and even to severe,” Dr. Hovey said. “So if you get caught early in the disease process then you can be treated with the monoclonal antibody and be successful and survival, if you wait until the very end of your symptoms it may be too late at that point.”

Depending on the day, if you do not go to a primary care doctor and go straight to the ER you can be waiting for hours. Dr. Hovey said it’s best to try to avoid it overall.

“The best thing we can do right now is to continue to wear our mask and be diligent, and hopefully we will have a nationalized vaccine roll out so can get some more vaccines into people arms and get them protected against this virus,” Dr. Hovey said.

Dr. Hovey said that the patients seen that require hospitalization is usually due to breathing issues. In most cases these patients have post-covid issues as well.

Alabama reporting over 400,000 COVID-19 cases since March.

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