DuBOIS — Dr. Shaun Sheehan, Penn Highlands Healthcare’s Emergency Services Medical Director and leader of PHH’s COVID-19 Task Force, offered some advice for people wanting to protect themselves and others from getting or spreading COVID-19 on Thanksgiving.
“We know there’s a lot of people out there trying to determine whether they should cancel their Thanksgiving plans,” said Sheehan during Thursday’s media teleconference. “And last week, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) stated that the safest way to celebrate this Thanksgiving is to do so with people you live with already in your household.”
But, for those who plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside of their household, Sheehan discussed ways to keep everyone safe.
“Please get a flu shot before Thanksgiving,” said Sheehan. “For Thanksgiving groceries and Black Friday shopping, shop online, or by delivery, or even think about curbside pickup as much as you possibly can. Make sure you’re wearing a mask, and wearing it correctly over the nose and mouth. Wash your hands immediately with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, before and after meals, and regularly throughout the day.”
Sheehan said Thanksgiving is just doing things that most people do already for the holidays.
“It’s just we want to take some extra time and precautions, clean a little extra, keep your group small with face masks, and if there are large groups try and do this outside, as much as possible,” said Sheehan. “I can’t express enough that really the way to beat this is for everyone to wear a mask, social distance, wash their hands, and avoid large group gatherings.”
Sheehan also re-emphasized how important it is for everyone to continue to seek out medical care.
“For any reason you need emergency treatment, call 911 or get to the emergency department of your nearest hospital,” he said. “In some cases, delaying care puts the patient’s life at risk or makes their condition worse. Again, here at Penn Highlands we’re safe. We have many safety precautions in place across our system, including restricted visitation, temperature checks for employees and anyone who enters a clinical building. There’s required mask wearing, and additional cleaning protocols.”
Sheehan said seeking emergency medical attention should be done when people are very sick and have no other choice, but of course, they will always be happy to see anyone. Primary symptoms people want to watch for to know when they should seek traditional emergency medical care are trouble breathing, persistent pain in their chest, new confusion, inability to stay awake, sometimes the blue color around one’s lips or face are all signs that should be taken seriously.
“I have to express appreciation to every department in our health system. They’re showing a tremendous amount of dedication in caring for all the patients, as well as following our safety precautions,” said Sheehan. “We have a section of our website dedicated for additional information on COVID 19 at PHhealthcare.org/coronavirus.”