What to do if you feel sick

Taking the proper steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is important in rural healthcare

Series: COVID-19 | Story 11

Nobody likes getting a cold or flu at this time of year but, when the weather changes from cold to warm, it happens.

Unfortunately, with COVID-19 lurking throughout the country and certain parts of Wyoming, getting a cold could be a sign that this contagious disease has struck a person’s system.

What to do if you have a fever, dry cough and symptoms that are a warning of having this disease?

Optimally, you go to your healthcare provider and let them take a look to diagnose if you should go and get your nose swabbed at a center that does this procedure. Once that is done, it is sent off to a center that tests for COVID-19.

The problem for Carbon County. Not all 10 municipalities have clinics or doctors manning them seven days a week, or even five days a week.

Another problem for the county is that some communities have a large elderly population that seem to be high risk for the COVID-19’s lethal repercussions.

Stephanie Hinkle, Memorial Hospital of Carbon County’s Marketing Communications and Foundation Director, recognizes the fear many people may have as they start to cope with ramifications of this new disease to hit Wyoming.

She said if some symptoms of a flu or cold start, it is smart to immediately quarantine for 14 days. During this time, if a person starts to worsen to the point of high fever, dry cough and short of breath it is a good time to reach out to a healthcare provider.

Not every person in Carbon County has a doctor they go to on a regular basis but, in order to be tested at this point in time, a healthcare provider recommendation is necessary. It is smart to find out who is available and if a facility has testing.

In northern Carbon County, the only clinic open is in Hanna. Due to some water damage to a back room it has limitations on what areas of the clinic are accessible for seeing patients but the clinic is open Tuesday 9-5 and Thursday 1-5.

Receiving the test does not mean a person will know immediately if they are positive or negative. It will take a little time to get the results as the nose swab is sent off to a lab.

“An individual can be swabbed at Hanna if deemed to meet criteria by the provider,” Hinkle said. “We do not do any testing at any of our facilities. We must submit the test to the State of Wyoming Lab.”

The Medicine Bow clinic is in transition for a switch in medical personnel. The clinic had expected it would not be open until sometime in April when the change of medical personnel started and was not expected to be much of an inconvenience to the community.

That was before COVID-19 showed up in the state.

As the virus has been confirmed in Carbon County, it makes sense to have a healthcare provider in mind in case symptoms start

If you do get tested while waiting, it is a good time to quarantine for two reasons. If you have the virus, you don’t want to infect anyone. If you don’t, the fact that you have symptoms of some sort probably means your immune system is not 100 percent and it makes no sense to take the chance of exposure to COVID-19 with a weaker system.

Wyoming health officials and medical personnel don’t dispute the rural health care system could have a tough time dealing with COVID-19 if it hits the state in a strong manner. What most recommend is keeping away from large groups and stay inside as much as possible.

It is hoped by most residents in Carbon County this disease can be relatively contained and won’t do much damage. The best way this can happen is be prepared with doctors to contact and staying home when you can.


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