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Lee Health: Monitor symptoms, seek care if they worsen

By Staff | Apr 6, 2020

If you’re feeling ill, see the doctor.

That was the message to Lee County residents Monday afternoon during Lee Health’s media call.

President and CEO of Lee Health, Dr. Larry Antonucci advised residents no matter what illness they may be experiencing, COVID-19-related or not, that their medical needs will be attended to.

“Over the weekend there were several national news stories about people expressing frustration over not being able to be treated for COVID-19 due to issues getting tested,” Antonucci said. “I want to ensure everyone that your treatment will be the same whether you are confirmed to have COVID-19, are awaiting test results or have symptoms of respiratory illness. Testing is important, but we treat patients and symptoms, not tests.”

Officials also told residents that they shouldn’t wait for their symptoms to get worse before seeking care.

“If symptoms are mild (patients) should consider seeing a doctor and continue to monitor themselves to make sure symptoms don’t get worse,” Antonuuci said. “When symptoms are more severe, such as shortness of breath, patients should immediately come to the emergency department for evaluation. I want to emphasize that unlike other illnesses, you shouldn’t wait for severe symptoms to come to the ED. If you notice your mild symptoms starting to get worse, we recommend coming in to be seen before they get severe. There is no medical cure yet for this virus, but the sooner we can evaluate you, the better able we are to help manage symptoms if they become severe.”

Lee Health currently has 45 COVID-19 patients isolated in its hospitals, a drop in number since Sunday. Thirty-seven patients who had tested positive have been discharged.

Lee Health has submitted a total of 4,661 specimens for testing, yielding a total of 208 presumptive positives since March 6.

They have 174 employees quarantined at home and 14 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed at work.

On Sunday, their mobile collection sites collected 71 specimens. Lee TeleHealth had a total of 156 visits.

Currently, 260 patients are under investigation.

Beginning today, Kids’ Minds Matter — a Lee Health Foundation initiative — will be hosting “Mental Health Monday,” every Monday, at 4 p.m. on Facebook.

“The segments will feature psychologists, therapists, physicians, child advocates as well as other art, mind and body professionals to help caregivers with their child’s mental health,” Antonucci said. “Experts will speak on different aspects of mental health and answer questions from viewers. Community advocates, partners and viewers are encouraged to create “watch parties” to join the experience and share the live stream with friends and family.”

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines now recommending the public wear masks when outside of the home, Antonucci encouraged the continuation of local businesses and the community to get creative to keep supplies readily available.

“(The CDC recommendation) could lead to further shortages, and we also encourage people to make their own masks for personal use rather than use those intended for health care providers,” he said. “Directions on how to make masks can be found on the CDC’s website. Wearing masks in public can help protect people from getting sick, but it is important to remember not to touch your face or adjust your mask without washing your hands first.”

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj