In an effort to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to protect the community, the staff at Plessen Healthcare on St. Croix will implement the following important procedural changes at their Orange Grove Medical Campus:

Elective, non-progressive surgeries will be deferred until after April 6.

Any cases presenting to the Ambulatory Surgery Center will be reviewed by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tasnim Khan. Case-by-case analysis will be used to determine which are medically necessary, which have potential to become progressive in nature and whether delaying treatment could potentially harm the patient. For those identified cases, an on-call only team will be available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Plessen Healthcare will continue to provide services to all dialysis patients in need of treatment, as this is critical to their needs and cannot be delayed.

Patients coming to the Medical and Surgical Center will need to be physically separated to reduce the risk of transmission. All patients should stay outside and maintain sufficient separation. The Plessen staff will come to you and assess your needs.

If you are symptomatic, a mask will be provided and you may be asked to wait in the car or in a sequestered seat until brought to a designated examination area. Outside examination areas will be used for symptomatic patients and patients may possibly be evaluated in their cars if needed. Non-symptomatic patients will be brought in and asked to sterilize their hands before being brought into an examination room.

Plessen asks that patients, especially those over 65 and those with chronic illnesses, consider changing their appointments to a telemedicine visit with their provider.

Flatten the curve

The term “flatten the curve” refers to taking measures, as soon as possible, to lower the rate of infection and transmission of the virus to avoid taxing the healthcare infrastructure with a spike of patients in need of medical attention at one time.

In order to slow down the spread of COVID-19, Plessen recommends members of the community consider practicing social separation and decrease physical interactions whenever possible for the next 15 days.

“The reason behind this is to slow down the rate of transmission and the amount of new sick people per week. In this way the healthcare infrastructures can be better prepared to take care of the ones that get sick. If we are overrun with a large group of severely ill people, we will not be able to tend to everyone in need appropriately,” said Plessen Healthcare founder Dr. Jan Tawakol.

Understanding the stages and symptoms of COVID-19

The incubation period for COVID-19 is thought to be within 14 days following exposure, with most cases occurring approximately four to five days after exposure.

The virus first settles in the throat, causing inflammation and a dry throat sensation in some patients: this symptom can last 3 to 4 days. The virus then travels down in the airways, descends into the trachea, and settles into the lungs, causing pneumonia. Recovery time appears to be around two weeks for mild infections and three to six weeks for severe disease.

What you can do to help reduce transmission

• Prepare for a 15-day self-sequestration at home with the necessary groceries and supplies.

• Wipe down your surroundings daily with an anti-septic cleaning product, particularly high-touch areas like doorknobs and handles.

• Wipe down high-touch appliances and devices, like computer keyboards and mobile devices.

• Wash hands regularly with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, even if you did not come into contact with anyone.

• Do not share utensils, glasses, plates and foods. Keep your towels and bed sheets separate.

• Cover your sneezes and coughs.

• Check in with your family, friends and neighbors with FaceTime, Skype or other social media application.

Reducing viral load and boosting the immune system

• Gargle with your choice of antiseptic mouthwash or warm water with salt to minimize the amount of virus that could enter your throat.

• Make sure to keep the throat moist, drink a few sips of water at least every 15 to 20 minutes. Avoid ice water, opt for room temperature.

• Consider influenza and pneumovax vaccinations.

• Take supplements to strengthen your immune system.

• Higher doses of Vitamin C than the daily recommended allowance may help to boost your immune response. Patients with kidney issues should avoid taking more than 500 mg daily.

• Supplement with vitamins D and E as well as zinc.

• Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Drink warm or even hot beverages and teas. Use some honey.

• If you are able, get moderate exercise and sunshine while practicing social distancing.

• Consider utilizing higher temperatures to curb the virus:

The COVID-19 virus is heat sensitive, however environmental temperatures likely will not destroy it and higher temperatures are needed. Some measures may help you at home:

• Consider sterilizing your home utensils in hot water. Use a dishwasher with heating cycle if available.

• Wash your clothes in hot water.

• Practice steam therapy, up to three times per day if needed: Prepare a steaming bowl of hot water with chamomile, herbs or essential oils of your choice. Place your face over the bowl with a towel over your head to capture the steam.

• Consult with your physician if you have any medical issues or questions before you expose yourself to any of these possible preventative measures.

To make an appointment, call 340-715-7720, or visit plessenhealthcare.com/contact.