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  • Writer's picturePam King Sams

Penn Medicine offers tips on how you can be an "essential provider" to those who need it.

Penn Medicine tells you here’s how you can be an "essential provider" to those who need it. News about the coronavirus is changing quickly. The latest information can be found at Health-care providers are currently deployed in a “war” against the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already infected hundreds of thousands of people in the United States. The viral syndrome, which typically begins with a fever and cough, has been shown to cause severe respiratory or cardiac failure in a minority of individuals requiring prolonged ventilator and critical care support. In some studies, likelihood of survival once placed on the ventilator has been estimated to be as low as 50%. Older and immunocompromised patients have been shown to have significantly worse prognosis with COVID-19, likely owing to general frailty and the presence of multiple health conditions. In Italy, the majority of patients who have died from COVID-19 have been between ages 63 and 95. In Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began, people over age 65 were more than twice as likely to develop severe disease. Yet, another group faces a critically high risk: health-care workers. In Wuhan, health-care workers were more than three times as likely to become infected than others. Although the reason is still unclear, it is likely attributed to prolonged contact with the virus, in some cases without adequate personal protective equipment. Furthermore, being young does not seem to protect against the virulence of COVID-19 in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40% of hospitalized patients were between ages 20 and 54, reflecting those of working professionals. While efforts to protect health-care providers have begun, we cannot forget to address the most holistic aspect — our overall well-being. Sleep deprivation and irregular sleep cycles, high stress levels, and unhealthy diets, especially over a sustained period, have been associated with weakened immune systems. Working hard and selflessly is ingrained in the dutiful culture of the medical community. Many providers have long prioritized patient care over our own needs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will surely continue to do so as the demands of the pandemic surge. Unfortunately, these conditions will render us more vulnerable to becoming ill with COVID-19 over time.

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