Every day, it seems the news surrounding our nation’s fight against coronavirus is getting grimmer. Cases and hospitalizations are increasing at alarming rates and, once again, coronavirus seems to be getting the better of us. For those of us who work in healthcare, watching this unfold fills us with a sense of dread. Already, many hospitals are running out of beds and this is expected to only get worse as summer transitions to fall. As we continue this fight, keeping as many people out of the ER and hospital beds will take on increasing urgency. To that end, it will be incredibly important for all of you, to the best of your ability, to take care of your chronic conditions.
There are a multitude of chronic conditions that many of you may have. Things like diabetes, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, COPD, and congestive heart failure are just but a few examples of diseases that require long term medical management. With proper therapy, many of these diseases can be well controlled and are not a source of distress for those who have them.
Unfortunately, however, I see many patients in my emergency room who are there because of their chronic conditions. Their chronic disease has acutely worsened and they now require emergency medical treatment. There are many reasons why a patient’s chronic disease may suddenly worsen but the most common cause that I see is medication non-compliance. Understandably, taking a medicine every day consistently can be challenging for some. Many of these medications are also expensive and I have seen many patients who have put the needs of their family over their own medical needs. Finally, some patients simply run out of their medication and are unable to make an appointment to see their primary care doctor before their disease acutely worsened.
Yet, now more than ever, it is incredibly important for you to prioritize your health and a major part of this is ensuring that your chronic medical conditions are optimally managed. Patients with pre-existing conditions are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. While pre-existing conditions put you at risk, poorly managed pre-existing conditions compound your vulnerability.
I am imploring all of you to take your medications for your underlying medical conditions. Now more than ever, it is imperative to make sure your conditions are well controlled. Doing so will obviously benefit you by making you healthier but it will also benefit all of us working in healthcare. As COVID cases continue to climb, healthcare resources are going to be once again stretched thin. Every person that we can keep out of the hospital is a victory and will allow us to focus our attention on the most critically ill patients.
If you are running low on your medications, please call your doctor to get additional prescriptions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even recommends having extra medical supplies such as home oxygen available during this time. Please try to avoid going to the emergency department for refills of your medication; we are getting overwhelmed with sick patients as it is.
Many of you have underlying conditions that increase your vulnerability to COVID. Now more than ever it is imperative for you to keep these conditions well controlled. This means taking your medications consistently as prescribed. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Keeping your medical conditions under control not only benefits you but could be the difference between you staying at home versus seeing me in the emergency room.