Protecting People with Pre-existing Conditions from COVID-19
A Message from Dr. Jason Wong, Medical Director of Healthcare Services
COVID-19 can be a dangerous and deadly disease, and it impacts about 1 in 5 people more devastatingly than others. Seniors and patients with chronic diseases – like diabetes, heart and kidney disease – have poorer outcomes when infected. The CDC reported that hospitalizations were 6 times higher and deaths 12 times higher for COVID-19 patients with those reported underlying conditions. Our Samaritan House Free Clinics have specialized programs for patients with diabetes, including the first Food Pharmacies in the state. And we do know how to treat it in the hopes of lowering these patients’ risk from COVID-19.
At our Free Clinics, we are supporting our patients by trying to keep them out of the hospital. We are even keeping them away from our Clinics! We certainly miss seeing patients in person but have found that telemedicine can keep everyone safe while delivering necessary short-term care. Patients come to the Clinic only when a specific exam is required or when medications are needed.
Our Food Pharmacies are running in no-contact mode to help keep our patients with diabetes on the right diet at a time when affording this food is especially challenging.
One of our older patients who uses the Food Pharmacy was recently infected with COVID19. She has chronic kidney disease and heart disease, along with diabetes. She became quite ill and went to the emergency room, but was able to avoid hospitalization. Thankfully, she has made a full recovery. Did it help that her diabetes was well controlled before the infection? Were there other undiscovered factors for resiliency? There are still many unanswered questions, but we’re doing all we can to make sure our patients are as healthy as possible – especially now.
As sheltering requirements continue to shift and change, we do not have the luxury of waiting to find all the answers. COVID-19 has not magically disappeared nor gotten any weaker. While we attempt to restore a sense of normalcy to our lives, COVID-19 will continue to spread.
Until scientists develop a vaccine to end this pandemic, the best way we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and avoid having to call another expensive shelter-in-place, turns out to be simple and inexpensive:
- Keep your distance.
- Wear a mask.
People with high-risk conditions and their contacts need to be extra cautious and have their chronic diseases under control. Everyone needs to be part of making this work, and, working together, we will beat this virus.
If you are struggling to get by and don’t have insurance, Samaritan House Free Clinics are here to help you! Please call 650-347-3648 to speak with someone who can get you started.