Margaret Adams, RN
The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is bringing home a reality check for our community.
The reality check is the importance of being healthy. Recent news reports have brought forward the disparities in the death rates for the African American population. Disparity means something is happening disproportionately; the number of deaths occurring within a population does not match the expected results within that particular population.
The news has reported death rates ranging from 41% to as high as 70% of African Americans who contract the Coronavirus. This is in comparison to about 28% of people who are not African American.
There are multiple factors that influence this higher death (mortality) rate for our population. The most obvious is the existence of co-morbidity conditions. Morbidity is the existence of a disease; co-morbidity means the existence of more than one disease or health problem. These health problems could be heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, COPD, kidney disease/dialysis, obesity, alcoholism and smoking.
These health conditions combined with the Coronavirus make it more difficult for the body to fight off viruses such as the Coronavirus because the body is already at a disadvantage having to deal with ongoing health conditions that also shorten its lifespan.
Other reasons that may contribute to a negative outcome could be how we access and communicate with the healthcare community. It’s important to know how and when to report symptoms.
Many hospitals, clinics and health insurance companies have nurse help lines that can answer and evaluate questions or concerns about symptoms. With the Covid-19 pandemic the CDC, (Center for Disease Control) the state and federal government have also set up hotlines that the public can call.
When calling these helplines it is important to focus on the symptoms you are experiencing. Knowing your temperature, for example, will be very helpful; therefore having a digital thermometer in the house is suggested for everyone.
Other symptoms that should be reported are shortness of breath and a recurring dry cough. You will be asked other health questions as needed. From these questions it can be determined what your next step of action should be.
You may be given home care instructions to follow. You may be directed to see your primary care doctor, or you may be directed to go to the hospital. Wherever you are sent make sure you have your identification and health insurance information with you. Select a family member who is aware of your healthcare instructions and can be a spokesperson for you in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes.
Having chronic health conditions (heart, diabetes, obesity, COPD…) should make us more aware of the importance of staying healthy, following through on our healthcare programs and treatments, and actively practicing and setting a healthy lifestyle example for our younger and future generations.
Your health is continuous and cumulative, meaning an unhealthy lifestyle may not show up until later and can have a negative impact on the overall quality of your life. That’s why I am saying that the Coronavirus is a WAKE-UP CALL.
Who was expecting a virus to come along and take so many lives so quickly? The healthier you are, the better your chances of survival.