MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – Editor’s Note: This is a four-part series on the symptoms, interventions, impacts and future relating to COVID-19. Watch this location for more installments.
Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., first published a story on COVID-19 in January. The virus has consumed every day since; and it rages on. Where does that leave a pandemic-weary world?
COVID-19 – Accessing Care
When symptoms point towards COVID-19, it’s time to consult your care team. If possible, it is best to communicate with them before heading to a facility.
MHS Nurse Advice Line
You can contact the Military Health System Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-784-2273 to ask questions and get information about your symptoms and options for evaluation.
MHS GENESIS Patient Portal
Sending a secure message to your provider and care team is easy with through your Patient Portal account at: https://patientportal.mhsgenesis.health.mil.
Puget Sound Military Appointment Center
If you feel it is time to schedule an appointment, call 1-800-404-4506.
You may see your doctor at Madigan in person, if that is best, or virtually. Telehealth appointments can be conducted using video applications or by a simple phone call. The type of interaction you have with your provider will depend on needs, timing and risk.
COVID-19 – Testing
“There are several places that Soldiers can go get tested,” said Col. (Dr.) George Leonard, Madigan’s chief medical officer at the JBLM town hall. “One of them is being tested in the community, which you can do, but there may a payment associated with that.”
He added that the most common testing location for Service Members who are showing symptoms is the testing tent that Madigan has been operating throughout the pandemic.
“You also could get tested there if you're identified as a close contact by one of our tracing teams for somebody who was symptomatic,” Leonard said, adding that any directed testing, such as for personnel on orders for TDY, is also authorized for testing at the tent.
Leonard noted that those who cannot get tested at Madigan’s tent are those who are asymptomatic or who are testing ahead of personal travel. These situations can be addressed at testing facilities off base, which is where civilians need to go with a few exceptions.
“COVID testing is authorized for civilian employees who may have an occupational contact to COVID. So, if here on base, you're working, and you're potentially exposed and referred by one of our contact trace teams,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Luke Mease, the chief of Preventive Medicine at Madigan. “Similarly, DA civilians who are PCSing or TDY and have official PCS or TDY orders, are authorized testing.”
COVID-19 Positive Care
If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and have symptoms, reach out for testing. If you believe you have been exposed and have no symptoms, quarantine. If you have been tested and are positive, isolate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention details what each of these terms means.
“Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick,” explained the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many people who become sick do not require hospitalization. But, to keep others around them healthy, they need to isolate, even in their own homes. Separate from others, using separate spaces for eating, drinking and toileting. They should not share food or utensils, and should wash hands and disinfect surfaces frequently.
Communicate with your doctor, especially if you have a chronic condition, and monitor your health overall. COVID-19 has shown to exacerbate chronic conditions, reveal underlying ones or develop long-term effects. Stay on top of any changes in your health and share them with your provider.
Impacts and Resources
Whether you or a loved one has become ill with this virus or not, COVID-19 has had a pervasive effect on our entire society. The need to maintain heightened attention and awareness for months on end is tiring, regardless of initial health condition or role in this pandemic. Frontline workers like nurses, housekeepers and others who provide care, and in-person support in the medical response to this disease have been hit hard by the demands related to COVID.
Continued vigilance in practicing the basics – the 3W’s and staying home whenever possible – is necessary. But, do not compromise your other health needs in the process.
“We urge our patients to not delay or avoid routine appointments, checkups, exams and vital screenings that potentially could detect life-threatening conditions. For any patients previously-diagnosed with any chronic health care conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension or any form of cancer, staying continuously engaged with your healthcare team is vital,” said Leonard in a recent video that can be viewed on Madigan’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/MadiganHealth.
Leonard also encouraged everyone to seek the support they need to address the emotional and social toll this pandemic has taken on many of us. For Madigan patients, behavioral health professionals are always ready to talk with you. Madigan staff can also contact the Department of Behavioral Health to learn about resources to aid them as well. Anyone can find support in the community too.
Mental/Behavioral Health Resources:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national helpline: 1-800-662-HELP
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/mental-health-and-coping/index.html
Washington State Department of Health: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/HealthcareProviders/BehavioralHealthResources
Thurston County: https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/phss/Pages/covid-19-resources-mentalhealth.aspx
Watch for the next installment of this series for a view of the future of COVID-19.
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