MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – The novel coronavirus – SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 – has upset many aspects of American life to include accessing healthcare resources. For service members, their families and retirees, there are many options for getting the answers every patient needs.
COVID-19 is a respiratory ailment that has many traits similar to a cold or influenza, yet it is distinct, new, and has no proven effective antiviral treatments or vaccine at this point.
There is a lengthy list of possible symptoms, but the ones the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focuses on are fever, cough and shortness of breath.
For many, a case of COVID-19 won’t seem all that different from a cold or the flu. But, if you have these symptoms, especially severe, or concerns because you have been exposed, here are some good ways to get medical advice on what you should do.
Contact your own provider. Madigan patients have a few ways to do that.
Exchange secure messages with your provider and care team via the MHS GENESIS Patient Portal. Access the portal at https://patientportal.mhsgenesis.health.mil. This can be the fastest and easiest route to interact directly with your provider. You can learn more, including how to sign up by visiting Madigan’s page at https://www.mamc.health.mil/patients/mhs-genesis.aspx
Alternatively, patients can call the Puget Sound Military Appointment Center at (800) 404-4506 to schedule an appointment with your provider. As Madigan is reducing its non-urgent appointments to limit possible exposure of both patients and staff to COVID-19, telehealth options are being implemented. Depending on your needs, a video or telephone appointment with your provider may work well.
If your symptoms are mild to moderate and you feel you need medical guidance, call the MHS Nurse Advice Line at (800) TRICARE (874-2273), Option 1. This line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all manner of medical queries.
The MHS Nurse Advice Line will connect you with a team of registered nurses at any time for advice about your immediate health care needs; this includes pediatric advice. The NAL also has a webpage that has chat and video chat options. It can be found at https://mhsnurseadviceline.com/. Although there is an unusually high number of calls at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these dedicated healthcare professionals will assist and guide you to the appropriate pathway to care.
If you are experiencing severe symptoms and believe you have a medical emergency requiring a visit to the ER, or even an urgent care center for non-emergent symptoms, please CALL AHEAD. This is very important because it will allow the medical facility to prepare for your arrival and protect staff and other patients from exposure, while also attending to your needs.
Public health crises bring with them a great deal of confusing and inaccurate information. Make sure you are getting answers to your questions and checking on advice you have heard, especially on social media, by making use of reliable sources of medical information.
Most medical facilities are following the lead of the preeminent public health authority in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s website is filled with valuable and accurate information to gain an understanding of the virus itself, how to protect yourself and others against it and how to recognize its symptoms. Visit www.cdc.gov and help keep your community healthy by only sharing accurate information.
Madigan is using CDC guidance on diagnosing the disease, preventing its spread, screening protocols and testing criteria.
Given that the Pacific Northwest has been the epicenter of this virus for the U.S., state and local agencies have been ahead in learning and communicating details about COVID-19.
The Washington State Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response website consolidates information about not only the virus, but local advisories, closures and assistance that is available to individuals and families within the state. It can be found at https://coronavirus.wa.gov/
The Washington State Department of Health also operates a hotline, with multiple language assistance, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at 1-800-525-0127. Be aware that, while this is the agency that is reporting statistics for the state, this call center cannot access COVID-19 testing results. They can, however, provide invaluable guidance in a one-on-one consultation via phone. This can be priceless to anyone with health concerns wanting information regarding COVID-19 to gain peace of mind amidst this global health crisis.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord has included a red box on its website at https://home.army.mil/lewis-mcchord that connects you to all the information you need about the impacts of the virus on the base. It includes the health protection level the base is currently at and what that means to you, as well as closures and cancelations of facilities and activities on base. It also has a lengthy frequently asked questions section that covers everything from accessing sick call to determining whether you are mission essential or not.
To ensure that you are getting the most complete information impacting you and your care on JBLM, keep an eye on Madigan’s webpage at https://www.mamc.health.mil/. Madigan has also created a webpage dedicated to COVID-19 that has current information, multimedia content and frequently asked questions. Find it all here: https://www.mamc.health.mil/patients/COVID-19.aspx.
There is no better place to find the latest healthcare information specific to the JBLM community and get connected to all these resources than Madigan’s Facebook page. Visit it at https://www.facebook.com/MadiganHealth/.
Watch “The Madigan Prevention Minute” video series to get information on service changes and see Madigan’s commander, Col. Thomas Bundt, speak with his medical experts one-on-one about prevention measures including hand hygiene, “social distancing”, facemasks, protecting at risk groups and visitation policy changes at Madigan as we proactively take appropriate measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Whether you and your family are dealing with severe symptoms you believe to be COVID-19-related, or you just need some answers, there are outlets ready to give accurate and current information. Please rely on them and keep yourself and your community healthy.
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