Caring for a Loved One With COVID-19

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patient at home in bed wearing maskIf you receive news that a family member or close friend has tested positive for COVID-19, take solace in the fact that most healthy people have a mild case and can get better at home. For a small percentage of people, particularly those with other risk factors or chronic health conditions, hospitalization may be required.

If you are caring for someone at home with COVID-19, there are several steps you need to take.

First, monitor for emergency warning signs, which include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish color of lips or face. If your loved one experiences any of these symptoms, you should immediately contact a physician, or you should call 911 or the nearest hospital emergency room.

For most patients, however, you just need to treat the patient’s symptoms. Allow the patient to rest and help them remain hydrated. Provide nourishing food, and follow doctor’s recommendations for taking any over-the-counter medications to manage symptoms.

Additionally, it is crucial to help prevent the spread of germs to others. As much as possible, keep the patient away from other people even in your own home, including using a separate bathroom and sleeping in a separate bedroom if possible.

The very best way to prevent infection or spread the virus is for everyone in the home to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their faces. Wash hands often and vigorously for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water. Hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol is also effective.

Avoid sharing personal household items. If possible, have the patient wear a surgical facemask. Definitely have patients use tissues to cover their coughs and sneezes. Caregivers, if possible, should wear a mask as well if you are in close proximity to the patient – within three feet. Dispose of facemasks and tissues in a lined trash can after use and use gloves to empty it daily. Use a spray disinfectant to clean trash containers after changing the liner.

In addition, use extra precaution if anyone in the household is 65 years of age or older, or has underlying health conditions, which might make them more susceptible to COVID-19. For older family members, limit contact as much as possible, and keep them away from the infected person. Monitor for fever, cough, or shortness of breath and contact a doctor if you suspect spread among those living in the home.

If someone is infected in your household, restrict activities for everyone in the household, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, use public transportation, or other activities outside the home. Clean all high-touch surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, railings, bathroom surfaces, kitchen surfaces, etc.) daily.

The final step is knowing when to end home isolation for both the patient and family. Your doctor and local health officials will recommend the appropriate amount of time that the patient and family members should remain isolated at home to avoid spreading the virus. By following medical advice and with cooperation, we can all work to minimize the effects of COVID-19 and prevent its spread to others.

by Raquel Nahra, MD, infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at Cooper University Health Care


Cuidando a Un Ser Querido con COVID-19

Usted recibe noticias de que un miembro de la familia o un amigo cercano ha dado positivo por COVID-19. ¿Qué vas a hacer ahora? La buena noticia es que la mayoría de las personas sanas que han contraído COVID-19 tienen una enfermedad leve y pueden convalecer en casa. Un pequeño porcentaje de personas, particularmente aquellas con otros factores de riesgo o condiciones de salud crónicas, puede requerirse hospitalización.

Si usted está cuidando a alguien en casa con COVID-19, hay varios pasos que debe seguir.

Primero, controle las señales de advertencia de emergencia, que incluyen dificultad para respirar o falta de aliento, dolor o presión persistentes en el pecho, nueva confusión o incapacidad para despertar, o color azulado de los labios o la cara. Si su ser querido experimenta alguno de estos síntomas, debe comunicarse de inmediato con un médico o llamar al 911 o a la sala de emergencias del hospital más cercano.

Para la mayoría de los pacientes, sin embargo, solo necesita tratar los síntomas del paciente. Permita que el paciente descanse y ayúdelo a mantenerse hidratado. Proporcione alimentos nutritivos y siga las recomendaciones del médico para tomar cualquier medicamento de venta libre para controlar los síntomas.

Además, es crucial ayudar a prevenir la propagación de gérmenes a otros. En la medida de lo posible, mantenga al paciente alejado de otras personas, incluso en su propia casa, incluido el uso de un baño separado y dormir en una habitación separada si es posible.

La mejor manera de prevenir la infección o propagar el virus es que todos en el hogar se laven las manos con frecuencia y eviten tocarse la cara. Lávese las manos con frecuencia y vigorosamente durante al menos 20 segundos, usando agua y jabón. El desinfectante para manos que contiene al menos 60% de alcohol también es efectivo.

Evite compartir artículos personales del hogar. Si es posible, haga que el paciente use una mascarilla quirúrgica. Definitivamente, los pacientes deben usar pañuelos para cubrirse la tos y los estornudos. Los médicos, si es posible, también deben usar una máscara si está cerca del paciente, a menos de tres pies. Después de usar, deseche las máscaras faciales y los pañuelos en un bote de basura forrado y use guantes para vaciarlo a diario. Use un desinfectante en aerosol para limpiar los contenedores de basura después de cambiar el revestimiento.

Además, tome precauciones adicionales si alguien en el hogar tiene 65 años de edad o más, o tiene condiciones de salud subyacentes, lo que podría hacerlos más susceptibles al COVID-19. Para los miembros mayores de la familia, limite el contacto tanto como sea posible y manténgalos alejados de la persona infectada. Controle la fiebre, la tos o la falta de aliento y contacte a un médico si sospecha que se propagó entre los que viven en el hogar.

Si alguien está infectado en su hogar, restrinja las actividades para todos en el hogar, excepto para obtener atención médica. No vaya a trabajar, use el transporte público u otras actividades fuera del hogar. Limpie todas las superficies de alto contacto (pomos de las puertas, interruptores de luz, barandas, superficies de baño, superficies de cocina, etc.) diariamente.

El paso final es saber cuándo terminar el aislamiento en el hogar tanto para el paciente como para la familia. Su médico y los funcionarios de salud locales recomendarán la cantidad de tiempo adecuada para que el paciente y los miembros de la familia permanezcan aislados en su hogar para evitar la propagación del virus. Siguiendo el consejo médico y con la cooperación, todos podemos trabajar para minimizar los efectos de COVID-19 y prevenir su propagación a otros.

4 Comments

  1. AvatarDiane Heppe

    What I want to know and hope that if I come down with the virus and while I am in early stage – day one two or three who can I call to get a RX for hydroxychloraquin. I do not need a test if I am pretty sure I just want to avoid going to the hospital. If I should be tested where do I go-living near the cherry hill mall?

    • AvatarCooper Health

      Hello Diane, if you are displaying symptoms of the virus, you should call your primary care provider for advice on symptom management, any prescriptions you may need, and for a referral to a testing site. Cooper has a testing site at its Brace Road office for its patients who have an order from their doctor and an appointment. There is also a testing site in Camden at Cooper Poynt Park for any Camden County resident who has a referral from their doctor and an appointment.

  2. AvatarTrish

    If someone is tested positive and asymptomatic. Most times they have already been positive for a week already by the time they get the test back. How long does that person need to stay away from family at that point? Also, would that person ever test negative once they are positive?

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