Monday - Thursday 8am - 5:30pm

Finding Our Way Through The Pandemic Using Evidence-Based Care

What a crazy ride we’re on. I am battling through what I can only describe as “uncertainty exhaustion.” There have been very few times in the past 3 months that I’ve had all the energy and optimism to heal the world and solve any crisis from my couch. At other times I feel I am drowning in negativity and criticism of any news or research that may aid us in our journey to a healthier, more caring community.

In the meantime, I have flashes of strength to continue the due diligence on emerging research. Testing, therapy, and prevention protocols are changing rapidly. Even in the past 2-3 months, experts are refining their research projects to identify new facts about how SARS CoV-2 virus is behaving, and how we can reduce our risk of infection from it. 3 recent takeaways from familiar topics that have new evidence:

1) Masks for healthy, asymptomatic people do more good than harm. There is more evidence to support the use of masks for healthy as well as infected patients. Experts feel masks made of any material is working as an effective  barrier to the spread of droplets and aerosolized respiratory virus. The viral load that is pushed into the surrounding environment is considerably less with a mask in place as compared to no mask when a respiratory event such as coughing or sneezing occurs. New evidence also shows the overall spread of a pathogen is reduced when more individuals are consistently wearing masks (in addition to the previously supported acts of social distancing and frequent handwashing).

2) Breathing problems are not a universal problem for people who wear masks. Earlier studies suggested that low blood oxygen concentrations and increased pulse rates from chronic mask use are challenges on the human immune system and may raise morbidity across all patients. The facts released in recent weeks showed research findings were inconclusive for the general population. The only published studies to date have been conducted in hospital and clinic settings, with the subjects being healthcare providers experiencing chronic mask and respirator use. Those providers admitted to being in high-stress surgical and outpatient situations on a regular basis, especially when working amidst the dangers of treating infectious disease.

3) Herd immunity is not reliable as a primary solution for controlling pandemic disease outbreaks.  The only benefit herd immunity provides is to mitigate some exposure for higher-risk patients, like transplant patients or rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, who would have difficulty tolerating vaccine therapy. But our human herds worldwide are difficult to isolate. The social and cultural dynamics in communities worldwide create an insurmountable hurdle in achieving total control of pandemic infections like COVID-19.  Vaccines have to be used as one of many tools to manage the current respiratory disease crisis.

We are requiring the use of masks for patients and our clinic team, in addition to several other upgrades and additions to our infection control protocols. There’s still much more to learn from the crisis we are all experiencing. And we are continuing to evolve our approach to making your care safer as we gain more evidence-based skills and techniques.