Advice from the Providence LCM emergency room

An ICU team at Providence Little Company of Mary treats a patient suffering from COVID-19 this week, part of the recent surge in cases. Photo by Alex K. Hakim M.D.

Last January, COVID-19 hospitalizations at Providence Little Company of Mary peaked at 180 patients. By October, that number was down to eight. Then the Omicron variant arrived.

This past Monday (Jan. 3), one year to the month after its patient load peaked, the COVID-19 patient load had risen to 52, according to Andrew Wertz, Director of Communications at Providence Little Company of Mary.

The Omicron variant has also renewed its toll on the medical center staff, though Werts said staffing levels have been maintained by the retention of temporary employees. 

Dr. Brad Baldriged, Emergency Department Chair at Providence Little Company, offered the following advice on how to stay out of the hospital, and how to know when it’s time to go.

How to avoid COVID-19

The standard recommendations for avoiding COVID are quite effective: Get vaccinated and boosted, use a mask consistently, and properly; avoid group gatherings; and perform a home test if you have been exposed to a high risk person, or are concerned you might have COVID.

What to do upon feeling ill.

Home care at the onset Omicron includes quarantining, and taking Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever, and body aches.

When to seek professional medical help

Shortness of breath when talking or walking indicates the need for a medical evaluation. Lips, or skin that is blue, or discolored indicate a dangerously low oxygen level. If you have a Pulse Oximeter, and it shows a level of 92, or lower, get immediate medical attention. Other indicators for the need of medical attention are: unexplained chest pain, intractable vomiting, or diarrhea, mental confusion, difficulty speaking, and difficulty being awoken.

Persons who are immunocompromised should discuss with their doctor when to seek medical attention.

Kid care

Wearing masks and practicing standard hygiene are good preventative measures for parents in caring for their children. 

Kids and school

Follow the recommendations of your local school district. Stay updated on school recommendations because they are subject to change. COVID Vaccines can be given, starting at age 5. 

Sports or no sports

Commons sense dictates that masks be worn if participants are in close  proximity (6 feet) to each other. ER

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