By Kyle Bradford Jones, MD, FAAFP
President of the Utah Academy of Family Physicians

The world currently feels full of much uncertainty, especially regarding everyone’s health. The COVID-19 pandemic has overturned our lives. However, I want you to know that your family physicians have not abandoned you. We stand ready to assist you in all of your needs. There has been some confusion by some in the community that you cannot get help from your doctors right now, but that isn’t true. 

Here are five things that your family physician wants you to know right now:

1. Don’t panic.

All of the unknown is scary and unsettling to say the least, but we will make it through. While it’s not easy, if we take the necessary steps to stay safe and healthy, then it is worth it. 

Make sure to do whatever you can for your mental wellness, such as doing things you enjoy, looking for ways to have social contact without getting too close, going for walks outside. These things will help you relax and continue to live your life.

2. Follow all recommended precautions.

In some ways it seems that the recommendations are changing every day. How many people is too many to be congregated now? Can I go to the grocery store? What does “social distancing” mean in all practicality? All that we’ve been told can be hard to keep up with. 

But the basics don’t change: 

*Wash your hands OFTEN using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. 

*Avoid touching your face as much as possible. 

*Avoid enclosed public places (such as stores) as much as possible. There is obviously a need to go to the store periodically, but don’t stay longer than you need to.

*If you are sick, stay home and avoid others as much as possible.

*Try to stay at least six feet away from others as much as you can.

3. Hold off on any non-urgent doctor’s visits.

Right now is not the best time to have your annual physical, or pursue other non-urgent things. However, if you have legitimate needs, then you still need to see your doctor. If you have a chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, etc, than you need to ensure you are taking care of yourself and following up with your physician. As I said, your physician is still here, and our existing health problems don’t lessen because of the precautions, so continue to reach out to your doctor to avoid having problems later on.

4. Inquire if your doctor’s office has virtual or telephone visits for your chronic issues.

Many offices are increasing their virtual and telephone visits to address your needs while keeping you as safe as possible. Find out if this is an option with your doctor.

5. If you’re not sure what you need to do, just ask.

All this information flying at us can be confusing. Don’t worry about calling your doctor’s office for guidance.

Family physicians are at the front line of helping you and the community be healthy. We remain in that position, no matter current scares there may be.

Stay healthy and safe!