As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, it’s important for everyone to know the best way to get the care they need.
Listening to information on the news may be confusing for some people, as it may be different than what you’re used to hearing about where and how you receive medical care.
Here are some tips to help you make sense of where to go when you are sick:
If you have a fever or cough
These can be symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) says that most people have mild symptoms and can recover at home. Call your doctor and discuss:
- Your symptoms,
- Whether you have traveled to a high-risk area as defined by the CDC,
- And whether you have been around someone diagnosed with coronavirus or who is awaiting test results.
It’s important that you stay at home (except to receive necessary medical care) and isolate yourself from others in your household. Follow your doctor’s directions and/or the following guidelines for isolation, and monitor your symptoms closely.
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately.
Emergency warning signs include*:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
If you have another medical issue that is not a fever or cough
People without COVID-19 may need to find care for health concerns they’re facing. Here are some options to consider to meet your needs:
- Call your primary care doctor’s office and ask them if you can make an appointment. They can direct you as to how you can access their care. Many physician practices, including Texas Health Family Care offices, offer virtual visits that will allow you to be seen by a provider without leaving the comfort of home. Reference your practice’s website for more information on virtual options.
- Consider a service like DispatchHealth, which brings to you a mobile medical team equipped with the technology and tools to care for minor to serious injuries and illnesses. Each team consists of a medical technician and a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. These clinicians are supported by a remote on-call emergency room physician.
- Many health insurance providers offer virtual care encounters, where you communicate with a provider using a tablet or other smart device. Call your insurance company to check on availability and to determine whether a virtual-care appointment is appropriate for your symptoms.
Elective Surgeries and Procedures
If you are having a planned procedure at Texas Health, you will be tested before the procedure as part of your pre-admission testing. The scheduling team will call you to set up a testing appointment.
If your Texas Health doctor ordered COVID-19 testing, the doctor’s office staff can help you make the testing appointment. There may also be local testing resources available to the general public.
To learn more about public testing sites, contact one of the agencies below, or search online for “COVID testing” and the name of your county or city.
Texas Health Resources
City of Dallas
City of Fort Worth
Collin County Public Health (CCPH)
Dallas County Health & Human Services (DCHHS)
Denton County Public Health (DCPH)
Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH)
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)
Local call to 2-1-1, option 6
When should I get tested?
People exposed to the virus who have had close contact with a confirmed case should get tested whether or not they have symptoms. If you have been referred by a physician to be tested, this also qualifies you. On the flip side, people with no exposure history and no symptoms should not get tested. If you do get tested, you should self-quarantine/isolate at home until you receive your test results and follow the advice of your health care provider or a public health professional.
There are two tests you can receive: a viral test and an antibody test. Viral tests show if you have an active infection, while antibody tests check to see if your body has created antibodies in response to a previous infection with the coronavirus. Typically, it takes about a week or two to develop antibodies after symptoms start.
Federal guidelines recommend getting tested for both a viral and antibody test if it’s been at least 9 days after symptoms started. Antibody testing is useful for people with asymptomatic infections who experienced a COVID-19-like illness 14 days prior.
It’s also useful if you were exposed to a person with COVID-19 14 days prior. In those cases, it can determine if you had the virus in the past.
Following best practices for accessing medical care is one way that the public can help in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your caregivers appreciate your diligence. Stay well!