Hancock Health a Trusted Source for COVID-19 Information
Hancock Health is committed to being a trusted source of information for the public during the COVID-19 crisis. We will be releasing key data related to the COVID-19 pandemic on a weekly basis.
The most up-to-date, comprehensive data for Indiana is available through the Indiana State Department of Health.
TAKE EVERYDAY PRECAUTIONS!
AVOID CROWDS OF 10 PEOPLE OR MORE
AVOID PEOPLE WHO ARE SICK
KEEP OBJECTS AND SURFACES CLEAN
WASH YOUR HANDS WITH SOAP AND HOT WATER
COUGH OR SNEEZE INTO YOUR ELBOW OR A TISSUE
STAY HOME AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
Steps to Prevent and Avoid
Other than the vaccine, the best way to prevent the illness is to avoid exposure and use every day preventative actions as well as steps provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends the following measures to prevent the spread of illness:
- Wear a mask at all times.
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water (or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content) for a minimum of 20 seconds
- Keep a distance of at least six (6) feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (e.g. use a tissue that you then immediately throw away or cough into your elbow)
- Clean and disinfect commonly used items and high-touch surfaces (e.g. counters, doorknobs, phones, keyboards, toilets, etc) every day
- Stay home if you are not feeling well
- Keep up to date on the latest information from reputable resources like the WHO, CDC or the Indiana State Department of Health
The US Department of Health & Human Services states that Operation Warp Speed’s goal is to produce and deliver safe and effective vaccines as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to be delivered to patients more rapidly while adhering to standards for safety and efficacy.
mRNA, also known as messenger RNA is a new type of vaccine. Many questions have been asked in regards to mRNA, but this new technology is the main reason the COVID-19 vaccine was able to be produced so quickly. Another positive to mRNA vaccines, they do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. In simple terms, the vaccine you will receive WILL NOT give you the COVID-19 virus.
The vaccine is not required. However, we encourage everyone to show their support of the vaccine and lead by example
to get us out to the pandemic.
One of our main goals is to be completely transparent in our communication about the vaccine. So here you go, YES there can be side effects from getting the vaccine.
Like most news and updates dealing with Covid-19, the news about FDA approval of two Covid-19 vaccinations for emergency use comes with as many questions as it does answers. Is it safe to get the vaccination? Can I trust it will
work? Do I really need it?
Medical care and testing for COVID-19
If you have symptoms, then self-quarantine immediately. If, as many of us do, live with other people, try to move yourself to a “sick room” where you can be remote/secluded and if possible have a bathroom dedicated just for you.
Utilize virtual health visits with your current provider or our COVID call centers for questions and screenings. Hancock Health has a dedicated hotline staffed with healthcare providers to help during this time | 317.325.COVD (2683).
If you have self-quarantined and have no other direction from a healthcare provider, you should only leave your “sick room” and home when ALL of the following are true:
- No fever for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication, Tylenol, not aspirin/ibuprofen or other NSAIDs
- Other symptoms have improved
- It has been at least 10 days since you started feeling sick
- It has been at least 7 days since you started feeling sick
No one wants to be told they’ve contracted COVID-19. If it happens, though, it’s important to know this: 80% of the population can manage symptoms—including fever and cough—and recover at home. And most people feel better in a week, if not sooner.
But, what should you do if coronavirus enters your house? And how do you stand the best chance of not spreading it to everyone who lives there?
Our coronavirus hotline, at 317.325-COVD (2683), is staffed with people who can provide answers, and included below are some dos and don’ts for people who are living in the same house with COVID-19.
- Separate the sick from the healthy. Isolate the sick person, whether it’s you or someone else, in a “sick room,” away from others who live in the house. If possible, designate a separate bathroom, too.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surface every day—phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tables, and bedside tables.
- Make sure everyone in the household is washing their hands frequently with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) and using hand sanitizer (that’s at least 60 percent alcohol).
- Give the sick person a facemask to wear when others are in his or her room—and people who go in should also wear them. If real facemasks aren’t available, use bandanas or scarves.
- Call ahead before visiting a doctor’s office and wear a facemask when you go. But if you think you’ve got an emergency on your hands, see the next tip.
- Go to the hospital emergency room if symptoms change or worsen, especially if he or she experiences trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, bluish lips or face, or becomes difficult to arouse.
- Cut down on person-to-person contact by placing meals outside of the “sick room” door.
- Have the sick person drink a lot of water and other hydrating beverages. And he or she should get a lot of sleep.
- Make sure everyone in the household covers their mouths when sneezing and coughing and washes hands with soap and water immediately afterward.
- Limit the sick person’s contact with pets. If you live alone and have to take care of them, wash your hands before and afterward.
- Touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Share dishes, drinking cups, silverware, bedding, or towels with someone who is sick. And be sure to wash dishes with soap and water before putting them in a dishwasher. Separate dirty clothing, towels, and bedding in a bag or hamper before washing them with detergent and hot water.
- Have the sick person rest in a common area of your home, near other people. Instead, he or she should stay in an isolated room and, if possible, use a separate bathroom.
- Accept deliveries in person if you are sick. Instead, have the delivery driver leave items on the doorstep and don’t sign for anything with your finger on a tablet or use a pen that’s provided. Use your own pen and sanitize it when you’re finished.
- Use public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
These tips, which are based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can especially help the 80% of people who contract COVID-19 and don’t experience serious symptoms. But if you have questions or trouble breathing or experience more serious symptoms, call our coronavirus hotline, 317.325-COVD (2683). And, remember, we’re all in this together!
If you’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive and/or showing symptoms call your primary care provider (PCP), visit our Immediate Care Center at Gateway or Greenfield, or get in line with SaveMySpot. You can also contact a Coronavirus hotline (Hancock Health has a hotline at 317-325.2683 [COVD] staffed by healthcare professionals) and talk to them about the best course of action.
If you are not showing symptoms of COVID but would like to get tested click HERE.
Care and appointments unrelated to COVID-19
We do not currently know if pregnant people have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. Based on available information, pregnant people seem to have the same risk as adults who are not pregnant.
However, we do know that
- Pregnant people have changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections.
- Pregnant people have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses from the same family as COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza.
Pregnant people should protect themselves from COVID-19
- Avoid people who are sick or who have been exposed to the virus.
- Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
Risks to the pregnancy and to the baby
- Pregnant people have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses from the same family as COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza.
- It is always important for pregnant people to protect themselves from illnesses.
WE ARE OPEN TO CARE FOR YOU!!! Each of our Hancock Physician Network offices are open and seeing patients. While the way we see patients might look a little bit different with the coronavirus in our midst, we are still here to care for you and meet your healthcare needs. Call your doctor’s office and they will assist in determining the best way to see you – virtually or in person.
The good news is there’s good news: As the staff at Hancock Regional Hospital works to care for all of our patients, whether we’re seeing them for COVID-19 or something else, we’re not overcrowded. It’s worth repeating—not overcrowded. We’ve got room to safely treat everyone.
So if you’re experiencing an emergency—a possible heart attack, stroke, broken bone, difficulty breathing, or a serious mental health issue—call 911 or come to our emergency room, just as you would’ve before COVID-19.
We’re telling you this because, as our staffs have cared for COVID-19 patients over the past few weeks, they’ve noticed a downturn in the other emergencies they usually handle.
“I’m hoping that doesn’t mean that people are staying home and, in a week or two, we’ll find out that they had an incident or episode of something that they didn’t get treated for,” said Dr. Meg Fitzsimmons, a family and primary care physician at Hancock Family Medicine. “We want everyone to know the emergency rooms are fully functional—people should not hesitate to go if they think they have a true emergency.”
And because of COVID-19 precautions and the need for social distancing, emergency room patients are moving through the intake process faster than normal, she said. They are being taken immediately to private rooms, which are separated into two types: rooms for patients with non-COVID emergencies and others for possible coronavirus patients.
If you’re questioning whether to seek emergency care, here are 12 reasons to do so:
- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
- Fainting, sudden dizziness, sudden weakness
- Sudden changes in vision
- Confusion or changes in mental status
- Sudden or severe pain
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
- Coughing or vomiting blood
- Suicidal or homicidal feelings
- Stroke-like symptoms—slurred speech, drooping on one side of the face
- Possible broken bone
But maybe you’ve got an issue that doesn’t exactly fit into any of those descriptions, and you aren’t sure whether it’s best to call your primary care physician, 911, or go to the emergency room. With those concerns in mind, Dr. Fitzsimmons answered a few additional questions:
With COVID-19 still an issue, how should possible emergencies be handled if we’re not sure about calling 911 or going to the hospital emergency room?
A: Really, your decision-making should be just the same as it was prior to COVID-19. You can call your doctor, or you can call 911. If you call 911, first responders will come to your home, they can assess a person and determine whether it’s truly an emergency.
And if you think you’ve got a COVID-19 emergency (someone with a high fever and difficulty breathing), go to the emergency room or there is another option: call our 24/7 coronavirus hotline: 317-325-COVD (2683).
When patients go to the emergency room for a non-COVID reason, should they be concerned about contracting the virus while they’re there?
A: Safety and hygiene are our priorities, so we’re taking all of the recommended precautions to keep everyone healthy.
In our physicians’ offices and in the emergency rooms, we have separated exam rooms for non-COVID patients from the ones used by COVID patients. And, as we always do, we’re sanitizing every room after we use it. Also, when we treat suspected COVID patients, we are closing those exam rooms for a few hours before putting another patient in them. And everyone is wearing masks, including patients.
What if there’s a mental health emergency?
A: If it’s extreme—someone with suicidal thoughts or extreme behavior—call 911.
Otherwise, virtual medicine is blossoming right now because of COVID-19. The mental health space is really conductive to telephone and video appointments because people can stay at home and call their doctor. It’s not an issue of having to physically examine patients.
When it comes to non-emergency mental health issues, when is it time to seek professional help?
A: This pandemic really preys on people’s fears and anxieties, and we are finding that those issues are getting exacerbated, especially for people who had them before COVID-19. People are stuck at home. They’re isolating. And the normal things they would do to self-sooth aren’t happening. So if worries snowball into focusing on them continually, to the point that a person can’t do their normal daily activities, then it’s time to call a therapist or their primary care physician.
Here are a few symptoms to look for:
- Not sleeping night after night or sleeping too much
- Panic attacks
- Worrying constantly about contracting COVID-19 or having someone in the family contract it
- Worrying constantly about job loss
We hope these guidelines help our Hancock Health community, navigate any emergencies you, or your loved ones, face in the coming days and weeks. And, rest assured, if you call any of our doctors’ offices or come to our emergency room with an issue, you’ll get the best medical care available.
Dr. Meg Fitzsimmons’ office is located at Hancock Family Medicine, 8535 North Clearview Drive, Suite 200, McCordsville. She can be contacted at 317-477-6400.
Lowering your risk of exposure
Know how it spreads
- There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
- The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
- The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
Wash your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people.
- Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.
- Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
The CDC states that there is little to no risk of COVID-19 transmission through food. Delivery and takeout encourage social-distancing practices.
Per the CDC, yes you should wear a mask if you go out. It is used to cover your nose and mouth. It is not intended to protect you, the wearer, but is meant to stop the spread COVID-19 to others around you. This is even more important should the individual be asymptomatic (showing no signs of having the virus), but is indeed a positive carrier.
Sew and No Sew Instructions
Sewn Cloth Face Covering
- Two 10”x6” rectangles of cotton fabric
- Two 6” pieces of elastic (or rubber bands, string, cloth strips, or hair ties)
- Needle and thread (or bobby pin)
- Sewing machine
1. Cut out two 10-by-6-inch rectangles of cotton fabric. Use tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets. T-shirt fabric will work in a pinch. Stack the two rectangles; you will sew the mask as if it was a single piece of fabric.
2. Fold over the long sides ¼ inch and hem. Then fold the double layer of fabric over ½ inch along the short sides and stitch down.
3. Run a 6-inch length of 1/8-inch wide elastic through the wider hem on each side of the mask. These will be the ear loops. Use a large needle or a bobby pin to thread it through. Tie the ends tight.
Don’t have elastic? Use hair ties or elastic head bands. If you only have string, you can make the ties longer and tie the mask behind your head.
4. Gently pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked inside the hem. Gather the sides of the mask on the elastic and adjust so the mask fits your face. Then securely stitch the elastic in place to keep it from slipping.
Quick Cut T-shirt Face Covering (no sew method)
Bandana Face Covering (no sew method)
- Bandana (or square cotton cloth approximately 20”x20”)
- Rubber bands (or hair ties)
- Scissors (if you are cutting your own cloth)
Staying safe at home
Outbreaks can be stressful
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Ways to cope with stress
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.
We’re calling it: social distancing sucks. It’s not fun missing birthdays, weddings, new babies, church, and every part of normal life. Thanks to COVID-19, it’s easy to focus on what we’re missing. But our staff is choosing to stay positive, even when it’s hard. We’ve gotten creative with how we stay connected, and it’s making a big difference in how we approach life. Check out some of the ways we’re connecting with friends and family!