We are living in trying times. There is a global pandemic that is ravaging the world. The illness is called Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 for short. This virus causes an upper respiratory illness but can attack the lungs. It can cause fever as well as cough or shortness of breath, among other symptoms.
The last time the world experienced a pandemic of this scale was probably the 1918 flu pandemic also know as the Spanish flu, so likely no one alive today remembers a time like the one we are living in now. It is a reminder that life is fragile and we are all connected. When this virus first appeared in Wuhan, China in December 2019, no one on earth was immune to it as far as we know. It can infect anyone. Some people have mild symptoms or possibly no symptoms at all, but a significant number of people are becoming critically ill and many people are dying from this virus. It is likely many more will die before this pandemic is over. Hospitals in places like northern Italy have become overwhelmed by this pandemic and it is likely to continue to spread to other regions and get worse around the world before it gets better.
At Aspen Medical Center, we care about your health and safety. We are doing everything in our power to try to prevent the spread of the virus and yet still provide essential medical services. We are cooperating with our state and local authorities and following recommended protocols and guidelines. We are closely monitoring nation-wide and global trends and we continue to gather information constantly. We are allowing employees to work remotely from home when possible. We are using appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE in our clinics. And we continue to follow intensified infection control protocols. We are screening prospective patients over the phone or if they come to our locations and we are sending high risk patients immediately for testing at one of our local state-designated testing sites or to the ER if appropriate. The Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has agreed to waive all copays and costs to patients for testing and treatment related to COVID-19. We are prepared to meet whatever challenges come our way in these uncertain and ever-changing times.
We are now offering telemedicine. Telemedicine is a way to get a virtual visit with a health care provider. Secure video chat technology is used and we can conduct medical interviews, do counseling, perform a limited physical evaluation, and if necessary order labs, make referrals, or prescribe medications electronically to the pharmacy of the your choice. This allows us to continue to provide needed medical services but prevent the spread of the virus by providing care remotely. We can provide these services for people who have chronic ongoing medical needs, people who have acute medical needs, and even people who think they might be infected with this virus.
Also, we have temporarily closed Aspen Wellness. So Rachel Ropp, DOM, is not currently doing acupuncture but she still has Chinese herbs available for her patients who wish to purchase them.
During this time of a global infectious pandemic, it is important for all of us to do our part in protecting ourselves and everyone else. What are some of the things you can do?
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Do not go to work or school if you are sick
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw away the tissue
- Practice social distancing (in general try to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people)
- Avoid non-essential travel (avoid shopping trips and social visits when possible)
- Reach out to people remotely through email, calling them up, texting, or through social media
- If you or your child get sick, contact your medical provider or call us at Aspen (505-466-5885 in Santa Fe or 505-747-6939 in Espanola)
At this time, we do not know what the future will bring. What I do know is that at Aspen Medical Center, we will continue to do our best to provide health care, for both chronic care and urgent care needs, to the population of northern New Mexico at both our Santa Fe and Espanola locations. We will continue to do everything in our power to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible