Visiting with an Infectious Disease Specialist

By Steve Coulter
Co-Publisher

What’s going on with COVID-19 right now in Oklahoma? What symptoms are Oklahomans experiencing? What’s happening at the hospitals? What about dining inside a restaurant? To get answers, I went straight to an Infectious Disease Specialist.
“I’ve talked to some people who’ve tested positive and they had a runny nose for half a day. And I’ve talked to some people that had a headache for a month. Really impossible to say if its going to hit you harder than your neighbor,” said Dr. David Chansolme, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Integris.
The hospitals are seeing an increase in cases. “I feel like it’s starting to pick back up a little bit. We’ve just had a little higher volume in our hospitals,” said Dr. Chansolme. “It’s not as high as it was in April and late March…but we’re starting to see a little more of an up-tick and we kind of expected that.”
Dr. Chansolme said the majority of Oklahomans seeking hospital care are experiencing the classic shortness of breath and cough. Several patients have fever but not all of them and the main reason for hospitalizations is still shortness of breath. Those patients are being treated with oxygen therapy.
Symptoms range from mild to more severe. Some people just have a runny nose and others are sick for weeks.
“I’ve talked to some people that have been sick for as long as 2 or 3 weeks. A lot of them are having fever, cough and shortness of breath. A lot of headaches. Nausea and vomiting are not uncommon. Diarrhea less so…but still some people have that also,” said Dr. Chansolme.
He said it doesn’t really have skin manifestations or rash or anything like that. That’s not a big feature.
Dr. Chansolme told me there’s no magic pill for this right now. Treatment for most cases is rest, Tylenol and mostly staying hydrated. He said it just takes time to run it’s course.
“Social distancing and hand hygiene is still the best vaccine that we have. Hand hygiene is just so so important! I can’t express that enough. Social distancing and wearing a mask in public is important. Those are still the most important protections we have against this,” he said.
What about going to a restaurant and eating inside? Are we safe?
Dr. Chansolme believes most restaurants are taking every measure to keep you safe. But there is still a risk. “Anytime you have exposure to other people you’re going to increase your risk a little bit.”

Steve Coulter, Co-Publisher

He stresses social distancing, wearing a mask and hand hygiene is the most effective strategy while in the public.
“But I recognize that it’s not realistic to ask people to stay at home for the rest of their lives …until this all blows over,” he said.
Dr Chansolme says it’s still hitting the older population the hardest. “The vast majority of patients that we’ve seen in the hospital are older or have significant comorbidities. That doesn’t mean I haven’t seen younger healthy patients struggling…I have. The chance of you having a severe course of disease under the age of 50 are pretty slim.”
What about the physicians and nurses? How are they holding up and have any of them got the coronavirus?
“We did have several doctors and several staff, nurses, techs, respiratory therapist that tested positive for coronavirus. There have been a number of employees that have gotten ill at the beginning of this. As far as I know all of them are back to work. So I think everybody is doing really really well. We have a lot of brave impressive people out there, that are doing the work they need to do,” he said.
Integris is continuing to perfect patient care strategies. Making sure that everybody has PPE. Making sure they have the best use of face shields, mask, hand hygiene and air flow. All of that and more. “I have a lot of confidence in our care takers,“ said Dr. Chansolme.
And he wants people to take care of their health problems and see their regular physicians. He’s seen too many people neglect their healthcare because of COVID.
“I want to stress how important it is that people continue to adhere to treatment plans. Every doctors office has really looked at how they are going to take care of their patients…to make sure people feel comfortable coming into their office. The Tele-visits have been a huge success! I can promise you that most doctors offices have modified their work flow and office space to make sure their patients are safe as possible,” he said.
And for those that test positive for the coronavirus, the majority do not require hospitalization.
“The bottom line is we take it one patient at a time. When they show up, we’ll take care of them. It doesn’t matter if they have COVID or not. We’re happy to take care of people, that’s what we do!” said Dr. Chansolme.

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