According to Dr. Phil Yphantides, medical director for Sharp Rees-Stealy Urgent Care Centers, the steps you take now to receive appropriate care for any medical concern are much like the steps you have always taken. Step one is to contact your primary care provider.
Online and in-person care is available
"It is appropriate to contact your doctor online, such as through your patient portal, or by phone for any illness, injury or medical issue, whether related to possible COVID-19 or other concerns," Dr. Yphantides says. "The Sharp Rees-Stealy urgent care centers remain open to care for all patients needing in-person care, whether for respiratory illness or other concerns such as injuries, wounds, skin infections, allergic reactions, urinary tract infections and other routine medical problems."
However, Dr. Yphantides suggests that some mild symptoms, such as those that indicate you may have a regular cold or even a mild influenza-like illness, can be treated at home. He recommends that you isolate yourself within your home and avoid being around others, if possible. Over-the-counter products containing acetaminophen (Tylenol), can help relieve headaches, muscle aches, sore throats, sinus pain and fevers.
"For mild illness, there is no need to seek in-person care," he says. "Our teams of doctors and nurses are still working and available to provide the care you need, with much of the current care being done through video and phone visits. If an in-person evaluation is needed, your doctor will direct you to the best place to receive that care, whether that be in the office, urgent care, emergency room or even directly with a specialist."
Precautions taken during COVID-19 pandemic
If it is determined that you need in-person, non-emergency care, it is safe to be seen in clinics or urgent care centers. According to Dr. Yphantides, Sharp Rees-Stealy has separated all medical care given to patients with fever and respiratory illness from patients with other medical concerns. If you don't have a fever or respiratory concerns, you will be cared for by a separate team of doctors and nurses.
"As you enter our parking lots, you will be greeted and directed to park on one side of the lot if you have fever or a respiratory concern," Dr. Yphantides says. "From there, you will be given a mask and directed to use hand sanitizer, and you will be evaluated in our Outdoor Respiratory Clinic by a team equipped to care for you there. All other patients will be allowed to enter the regular urgent care entrance to receive care."
Regardless of symptoms, all patients seeking care should have their own face cover or mask covering nose and mouth. Patients without a mask will be given one to wear before entering the treatment area to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of the staff.
When to seek emergency care
It's important to recognize when you should seek emergency care. If an illness or injury is severe, you should head to the ER. There are protocols in place to identify and separate patients with COVID-19 symptoms.
Seek emergency care if you or a loved one are experiencing:
- Severe abdominal pain
- A complex fracture with a bone protruding through the skin
- Significant head injury
- Sudden and severe headaches
- Difficulty breathing
- Behavior that puts oneself or others at risk
"It is safe to come to any Sharp facility for your medical needs," Dr. Yphantides says. "Please note that in order to protect your safety, the safety of our care providers and your loved ones, we have updated the visitation policies for our hospitals, urgent care centers and other facilities to protect those who are most vulnerable. We ask that all patients and guests follow these guidelines."