It’s hard to believe that it has been more than a year since the coronavirus drove much of the nation into a lockdown last March. Fortunately, the approval of several vaccines — and the public’s overall enthusiasm for getting vaccinated — is a hopeful sign that we’re headed toward relief.
Our nation’s seniors, including those in Greenville, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Not only are they among those most at risk of contracting the virus, but they also have contended with social and economic consequences of the pandemic, such as high rates of isolation, food insecurity and limited transportation options that restrict their daily activities.
As a physician who treats seniors, I have been impressed by how so many have adapted to these challenges over the course of the year. My patients have learned new technologies to stay connected with family and friends, turned to delivery services rather than venturing out to the store, entertained themselves via online book clubs and social gatherings, and kept physically active with virtual workouts.
Doctors have also learned to adapt in practicing medicine. From virtual visits to communicating through masks to providing checkups curbside when needed, we have altered our everyday mode of delivering healthcare.
Our organization, Partners in Primary Care — which operates seven centers in the Upstate — has also changed. We’re now known as CenterWell, a name that we feel is a better reflection of what we do best: putting seniors’ wellness at the center of what we do. Our services, including working in care teams to address our seniors’ physical, emotional and social needs, remain the same.
Despite all the adaptations, one thing that should not change is seniors remaining vigilant in protecting themselves against the coronavirus. This means:
- Getting vaccinated
- Continuing to wear a mask when necessary (see latest CDC guidelines for mask-wearing)
- Maintaining thorough hand-washing
- Keeping a social distance from others
- Maintaining regular visits with your primary care doctor
This certainly has been a hard year for the Upstate, but my takeaway is that caring for each other and taking the time to care for ourselves are the best ways to meet the challenges.
Erica Savage-Jeter, M.D., is the regional medical director of the South Carolina market for CenterWell.