Friday, April 10th, 2020
Greetings homebound patients and friends!
Hope you all are settling into a reasonable routine, and getting outside for long walks apart from others with the tremendous weather. I’m writing with a few updates and thoughts about the pandemic.
Thank you to so many of you who have agreed to start seeing us virtually for follow ups, new medical concerns that arise, or for your annual exams. We still can see you in the office AS NEEDED, often after a virtual visit to set up quick blood draw, immunization etc.
LOCAL COVID-19 EXPERIENCE:
Oregon continues to do well with our Covid-19 response. This morning I met virtually with leadership from the 8 Providence hospitals in Oregon and our regional chief medical officer. We clearly are leveling off in terms of total cases, hospitalization, use of ventilators and ICU beds. We have significant excess capacity in our hospitals and are coordinating efforts on a regional basis with the state (Oregon Health Authority) and with the Kaiser, Legacy and OSHU systems. We expect some form of social distancing to continue for months, perhaps into the fall though likely with significant changes and some loosening as time goes by.
Testing is available a little more widely, and interestingly only about 5% of tests state wide are positive for Covid-19. By comparison Washington state at it’s peak was recording over 15% positive rates. There is a great deal of interest in very widespread rapid (15 minute) testing to allow healthcare providers and others to more confidently re-enter work places, and in antibody testing to assess previous exposure and immunity (though we are not yet certain of short or long term immunity). Neither of these are widely available yet, though Anthony Fauci MD mentioned Thursday that we might see antibody testing within a week or so.
I’ve spoken with many patients, friends, and family about their experiences of being mostly homebound and its effect on health. It would be very easy to expect too much of yourself during this time, feeling that there’s extra time on your hands (unless you’re home schooling!). On the other hand, it’s clear this virus preys on those who are unhealthy, overweight, diabetic, weakened in some way. So give some thought to diet, sleep, stress reduction, and it might be a time to consider just a few supplements that may boost immunity. As some of you know I’ve become interested in the approach to chronic illness and health known as Functional Medicine. Below is a link to the Institute of Functional Medicine’s COVID-19 recommendations that may be worth a look.
Many of you have asked specific questions about MEDICAL therapies that may be effective either for prevention or treatment. As we will likely be dealing with the threat of infection for the next 18-24 months, while waiting for an effective immunization, I’ll take a stab at summarizing emerging treatments in next week's letter.
Until then please stay safe and let us know if we can help.
Jim Biemer, Julia Jones, and the team
James J. Biemer, MD