Assume everyone around you with flu symptoms has Coronavirus and act as though they are vulnerable elderly parents or young children.
This is the warning of a doctor/entrepreneur who runs a local urgent care facility.
Dr. Nabil Salib owns the myDoc facility on Queens Blvd in Forest Hills, New York. He says the virus can be transmitted anywhere so health professionals are on the front lines of the virus wars.
“I consider myself a soldier in this war. I am charging into the battle with my staff and we are taking care of these patients,” Salib says.
Not Enough Masks
His office lacks sufficient supplies especially masks. “We have been waiting for the regular surgical masks for the last three weeks,” he says.
“We are also very short on Coronavirus testing kits.” He worries that, because he has a small business, that he will be last in line to receive the kits.
He is “Lysoling” his office every hour, including every door knob, chair or surface every hour, preparing for an attack that could fell his patients and colleagues.
Luckily so far none of Salib’s patients nor his staff of about a dozen has gotten Coronavirus.
“But it is inevitable; it is only a matter of time that someone will get it,” he says.
The facility, which is open 12 hours a day, has had its number of patients roughly double over the past week.
“I used to consider thirty patients a day a good day. Now we’re past 50 a day,” he says. “There’s definitely a lot more respiratory patients. People coming in with cold symptoms and cough congestion. There’s a lot of anxiety,” he says.
It Can Fool You
Salib emphasizes that Coronavirus doesn’t always come with high fever and shortness of breath. “You can have “very mild symptoms and still test positive.”
Salib, who began his urgent facility some three years ago, is also concerned about how this virus will affect him. “I am thinking of isolating myself; that I think it might best for my family if I go to live in a hotel.”
He is worried about the virus overwhelming his office; of it overwhelming the entire system. Indeed, the New York State Medical Society, in a recent announcement, said it wants retired health professionals to consider returning.
“In the event that the novel coronavirus crisis worsens, we need the help of qualified retired health professionals and related professionals to supplement our hospital capacity on a temporary basis to treat seriously ill coronavirus patients including those that may need to be intubated,” according to the Medical Society. “The NYS Dept. of Health,” it added, “will recertify you for the purpose.
Health Care Failing Us
Salib, who says he is understaffed, complains some parts of the health care system are failing the public.
“Many general practitioners are turning away high-risk patients, but they should remember these patients are your mother, your sister and my children. A lot of physicians and pediatricians are scared.” Fear, he warns, could overwhelm the system.
“We are not going to get through this by turning away patients. We are going to get through this by taking care of the patients.”
The Government Isn’t Much Better
Salib is also critical of government efforts in the general.
He asks: “Why are we not more prepared for this? This is our fifth respiratory virus in two decades.” He cited SARS, bird flu, swine flu and Ebola.”
Salib is frustrated with the general culture. He says it often idolizes and overpays athletes, movie and entertainment stars. It also often underpays research scientists and general practitioners, he says.
“People don’t have nearly the respect for medical researchers and health professionals that they do for sports stars,” according to Salib.
Salib mentions says that, when he got out of medical school, he began living on a salary of $30,000 a year. That is practically poverty level income in pricy New York City. Society, he adds, needs to hold its medical professionals in higher regard.
“Take care of the medical researchers, scientists and health professionals and the next time this happens you will be a lot better prepared.”