An important message from Dr. Jonathan D. Hall
Another update to our patients regarding Covid 19
We are now settling into the fourth week of the Covid19 crisis in Massachusetts. The shelter at home order in Massachusetts has been extended to May 4th, and it is now recommended that we all wear masks out in public.
By chance, like many of you, I was to have been on a family vacation starting March 7 but rapidly went from “should we go” to cancelling the trip and using the week to prepare the office for the rapidly evolving crisis.
After 3 weeks of what seems like continuous crisis management, I was able to take some time to slow down and reflect this past weekend. I went for a long walk around our town with my oldest son and it seemed like everyone in our town was also outdoors and enjoying the spring weather. We saw many of our neighbors and caught up and said our “`hellos” from a safe distance- apart but together.
We came home and had a Zoom chat with my 2 brothers and sister and their spouses, who live in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. It was a first for our family to meet on Zoom, but went well, and we set up a meeting to “zoom” again for Easter. For the first time my wife and I internet streamed our parish’s Palm Sunday mass, with the priest, deacon and altar servers keeping a 6-foot distance from each other. I have Jewish friends who are learning to celebrate their Passover Seder online this year. I had a video consultation yesterday with a new patient who is a professor at a local college and working to bring her lectures to her students over the internet. She was a few minutes late to log into our Telemedicine consult because she had to get her two young children logged in on their respective Zoom meetings with their teachers. Everyone is staying safely apart but still together.
The number of reported new cases and deaths had been growing every day, but there is now room for cautious optimism. The number of new Covid cases and the death rate both decreased slightly this weekend. I thought of Winston Churchill’s words after Britain finally had a small victory following many initial defeats: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”. Today in the news is a 104-year-old Italian grandmother who has just recovered from being sick with the coronavirus.
Scientists from around the world are using their ingenuity to fight the pandemic in record numbers. It won’t seem like we are seeing a lot of progress at first but the number of small victories from discoveries will rapidly snowball and allow us to succeed in our struggle.
A group at MIT has developed an emergency ventilator that can be built with parts for $100 using a commonly available hospital item. They have posted the information online for everyone to use and add to.
In the office we are busy providing telemedicine/online consults for follow ups to surgery and new patient consultations. We have added a new landing page on our website to help with this. I remain available to see your urgent problems as needed in the office. We are finding that many of our patients’ questions and concerns can be handled for now with our new technology, saving the need for a trip to the office and the use of our limited personal protective equipment (PPE). My office continues to reach out to our upcoming scheduled patients and surgical follow ups over the month of April and first week of May to see how we can most safely meet your needs.
Continue to be safe and practice social distancing. Wearing a mask when out in public per the new CDC recommendations is not a substitute for social distancing and good hand washing but is meant to keep people who are unknowingly infected but without symptoms from infecting others. Get enough sleep, work on reducing stress and practice good nutrition.
A longtime physician friend introduced me to the MedCram video series by Dr. Seheult. He runs a series of instructional videos for medical students and has a new series devoted to the Coronavirus Pandemic. I have found them to be unbiased and informative. In his “update 35” he discussed some evidence that in a laboratory setting an over the counter supplement, Quercetin, can block the ability of the virus to get inside your cells. A recent study using the world’s fastest supercomputers at the Oak Ridge national labs was done to model which of thousands of FDA approved compounds or supplements might interfere with the coronavirus binding to cells, in order to help identify drugs or supplements that may be worth studying further. This study showed Quercetin to be number 5 on the list of a few hundred promising candidates. The caveat is that this has not undergone rigorous clinical testing yet to show that it is effective outside of the laboratory. A group of physicians from Montreal received a 1-million-dollar grant and are in the process of testing this now. But, like many supplements it seems to fall into the category of possibly helpful and probably doesn’t hurt. I don’t know if it works for certain but there seems to be enough early evidence that I am having my family take it. Only you can decide if the early evidence, but lack of clinical trials is compelling enough for you to consider it. I have put some helpful links below if you want to look into it and discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist. I ordered mine on Amazon, but it is also available at Whole Foods and many health foods stores. Quercetin that contains the pineapple extract Bromelain and or Vitamin C may be absorbed better.
Finally, if you didn’t see it yesterday, spend 4 minutes watching Queen Elizabeth’s speech to her nation. She has only done this 4 times before and I found it to be inspiring.
Stay safe and I will continue to keep in touch as we work our way through the crisis. Safely apart but still together.
Jonathan D. Hall, MD
Additional Information and Links:
104 yo Italian Grandmother Recovers from Coronavirus
MIT group designs ventilator for $100
New CDC recommendation for everyone to wear a mask
Good links on the possible benefit of Quercetin:
A link to Dr. Seheult’s excellent Medcram series on Covid with technical discussion
Another quick summary of the possible benefits of Quercetin
Queen Elizabeth’s speech yesterday: