By Lonnie Stewart
I work at a major academic medical center teaching graduate physical therapy students (Columbia University Irving Medical Center/New York-Presbyterian Hospital). Aside from my teaching and research duties, I am in charge of placing students in their clinical rotations in hospitals and outpatient treatment facilities across the United States and certain locations in the world. The past two weeks have been very challenging with respect to the spread of COVID-19 and the moving goalposts of travel alerts, warnings, and restrictions, and changing corporate and hospital policies.
Last week we extracted a student working in Ubertide, Italy when the CDC elevated its travel health notice overnight to Warning Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel. Although that student was well south of the outbreak in Italy, she volunteered to self-isolate for 14 days before moving on to her next rotation in a pediatric environment. Her delay in starting in her new environment places her graduation at risk if she loses any more time.
That small example is one of many that are happening at a lightning pace today. This evening I received word that Columbia University will take Monday and Tuesday off from classes because a student is in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19. The student has not tested positive, but the University is planning to provide instruction remotely through videoconference technology to ensure the virus does not spread on campus.
Information is abundant. But good, reliable information, separate from political opinion and 24-hour hype, is not necessarily the information readily at hand. I want this page/article to offer links to information sources that may be very important in the weeks to come, along with evidence-based advice. One thing is clear: older adults are the people most at risk of serious complications from this virus. The better informed we are, the better we can take care of ourselves and reduce our risk, and if necessary, best manage the illness.
In the meantime, it seems prudent to avoid unnecessary gatherings at this point. I was going to publish information on a gallery tour at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery scheduled for this Wednesday, March 11, 2020, but you can go to the link yourself and decide if you would like to attend. That is not an N2N event. If you wish to communicate with N2N, you can always send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have no plans for large meetings at the present time, and we will be in touch when we have something lined up.
Stay safe and healthy. If you are sick, get care. If you need help finding care, call 311, or alert us that you are having difficulty.
HAND WASHING & RUBBING: simply the most effective way to stop transmitting any disease by contact
WHO Youtube Video on how to wash hands: At the risk of completely annoying everyone who thinks they know how to wash their hands… you might come away from this video with some new techniques.
This is a brochure from the World Health Organization for healthcare workers on washing hands. Washing hands is with soap and water. Rubbing hands is with an alcohol-based product like Purell.
The 2nd and 3rd page show you the best technique for washing your hands to include the backs, in between the fingers, using fingers to get to the hollow of your palms, etc.
Alcohol-based formulas (Purell and similar products) are recommended for routine washing and are less likely to dry out your hands as they contain aloe and other moisturizers. Rub this product as prescribed until it is dry! No cheating with keeping your hands wet and then waving them to dry: the alcohol has to touch all parts of your hands to be effective. Also, just note that alcohol-based formulas do not kill all microorganisms – some, like spores that can cause diarrhea, need soap and water.
Washing hands with soap and water should be done after using alcohol-based formulas 10x, or when your hands are visibly soiled. Yes, you can wash your hands every time, but you will want some moisturizer nearby. The soap does not have to be anti-bacterial. Regular soap and water are just fine.
After washing your hands in a bathroom, use a single-use towel (paper towel) to dry your hands and use that towel to turn off the faucet, and use that same towel to open the bathroom door before throwing it away: this is a great way to avoid getting your hands dirty after all that hard work. If the bathroom only has those new air-dryers, this may not be an option.
CDC UPDATES and INFORMATION
CDC People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19 Older adults are at high risk for serious illness. This web site has excellent, specific information on preparations and actions to take. Consider taking their recommendations on stocking up on some essential supplies (outlined on the page).
CDC Corona Virus 2019 (COVID-19) Main Website This has links to the full range of updates and information concerning COVID-19
CDC Corona Virus Disease 2019 Information for Travel At the present time, CDC recommends deferring all cruise ship travel, and travel to destinations with ongoing outbreaks.
NEW YORK CITY INFORMATION: stay up-to-date on the CIty’s response
NYC Health COVID-19 Page Important: if you need help getting medical care, call 3-1-1.
NEW YORK STATE INFORMATION
New York State Department of Health Novel Coronavirus page with information on cases throughout New York State by region.