July 4th 2020 - Dr. Fred Buckhold, Dr. John Peter, Dr. Ankit Nahata, & Dr. Kristina Anderson

Health Matters
Thursday, July 2nd
Dr. FRED BUCKHOLD, SLU Care general internist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. St. Louis City and County are now under a mandatory mask order -- a mask must be worn while inside public places.  Dr. Buckhold applauds this -- saying the numbers are going up here and that worries him.  This order comes early enough that he hopes it can have an impact.  Masks do slow the spread of coronavirus, he says, especially in close environments.  Dr. Buckhold also says it doesn't really matter what type of mask you wear, as long as you are wearing one.  Something's better than nothing, he says, anything with a good tight seal that covers both your mouth and nose.  Dr. Anthony Fauci says the US could see up to 100,000 COVID cases a day soon -- if things don't change.  Dr. Buckhold says that's scary.  Both Dr. Fauci and Dr. Buckhold say bars are dangerous places for transmission and both say they should be avoided right now unless a high level of precautions are being taken.  Pfizer releases early vaccine results.  Dr. Buckhold says they look promising -- but wants to see bigger studies.  The FDA says any new vaccine should have at least 50 percent efficacy.  Dr. Buckhold says he'd welcome that.  And Dr. Buckhold tells us about a new swine flu that's been discovered in China.  He says it's still too early to get overly concerned.  It also is not transmitted at this time from person to person -- only animal to person.

Dr. JOHN PETER, pediatric emergency physician at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital.  With the July 4th holiday here, Dr. Peter has some advice on how to prevent fireworks injuries.  Dr. Peter says he sees a lot of burn injuries. Also a lot of eye injuries.  His advice is to leave the fireworks to the experts.  He says he sees a lot of firecracker injuries from bottle rockets -- and injuries from sparklers. Also, don't pick up a firecracker that you think is dead.  It can go off in your hand and cause the loss of a finger.  If you suffer an eye injury, he says get to the hospital as soon as you can -- don't rub or rinse your eyes or apply pressure.  And don't worry about going to the ER and picking up the coronavirus.  Tight precautions are being taken to avoid that, he says. Dr. Peter also welcomes the mask mandate for St. Louis City and County.  He says it only makes sense to wear a mask to prevent the spread of the virus.  And he says a mask can also protect the wearer as well.  Any mask is better than no mask, he says.

Dr. ANKIT NAHATA, an I-C-U physician at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital. What lessons have we learned as we hit the six month mark for the coronavirus pandemic in the United States?  Dr. Nahata says we learned that personal protective equipment works -- and how to have enough on hand.  He says several medications that were prominent have not held up in further testing.  He says we've been getting good results with Remdesivir, with steroids and with convalescent plasma therapy.  Dr. Nahata says he is also seeing lots of brain problems and blood clotting.  Other lessons included remodeled facilities and smarter use of ventilators.  Hospitals have also increased the number of negative pressure rooms needed to treat COVID patients as well.  He says we've also seen a change in COVID symptoms -- more cases of loss of taste and smell.  He is worried that if we let our guard down, the virus can come back.  He says a second surge is inevitable.  He says the importance of wearing a mask cannot be overstated.  This is one easy way, he says, to help slow the spread of the illness.  Dr. Nahata is also concerned about asymptomatic transmission of the virus. 

Dr. KRISTINA ANDERSON, family medicine physician with the SSM Health Medical Group.  Telehealth, telemedicine, and virtual visits have all been booming since the coronavirus pandemic arrived.  Telehealth has allowed doctors to stay in touch with their patients and bridge that gap between in office visits and maintain that personal relationship between the patient and doctor.  It has opened a lot of flexibility in taking care of patients.  Dr. Anderson says virtual visits are best for mood follow up issues, sleep problems, allergies, rashes, sinus infections, routine blood pressure follow up.  Is this a better way to provide care?  Originally there were some security issues, but not anymore. SSM Health uses My Chart to help securely do telehealth with your provider.  What's the future for telehealth?  Dr. Anderson hopes insurance continues to cover it -- and it can be offered to more people in appropriate circumstances.  Most patients, she says, have enjoyed virtual visits.