Metro Detroit doctors concerned about high-risk patients during coronavirus outbreak

Detroit physician highly concerned about patients

DETROIT – It’s not just doctors in the emergency room and the intensive care unit that are dealing directly with the effects of the coronavirus. Health officials from pediatricians to geriatricians are fielding countless calls and trying to help their patients navigate the difficult time.

Local 4 spoke to a Detroit physician whose patients are high risk, and he is highly concerned.

“A lot of fear,” Dr. Shaun Jayakar said. “The patients are affected. I’ve had quite a few phone calls with people who have high fevers, chills, shortness of breath.”

Jayakar is a geriatric specialist at Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit. He said the coronavirus has changed his practice.

“We’re handling a lot of things over the phone,” Jayakar said. “Really, we want people to stay away from the hospitals, if possible. Only go if you’re really sick.”

He said one symptom that is a major red flag is breathing difficulty.

“If you really are having trouble breathing, it probably is a good idea to go to the emergency room, and make sure you call the emergency room ahead of time so the hospitals can take precautions,” Jayakar said.

But if your symptoms are mild, Jayakar said you might not need to rush to the hospital.

“There are also a lot of patients who are just having fever,” Jayakar said. “If all you’re having is fever and some body aches, the best thing to do is to rest, take Tylenol, rest, drink plenty of fluids, stay home, isolate yourself -- if possible isolate yourself from the rest of the family."

He said it’s critical for everyone to follow the recommendations and stay home.

“A lot of younger people will get this virus, but a lot of them will not show significant symptoms,” Jayakar said. “In fact, a lot of them may not have any symptoms at all. The problem for younger people is they can spread it to the elderly. They can spread it to people who have preexisting medical conditions, such as those with diabetes, heart failure, lung disease.”

Those are steps he’s taking with his own family.

“I have elderly parents,” Jayakar said. “My wife has elderly parents. We’re doing our best to keep them away from the kids.

“I think it’s really good, the measures we’re taking, because we have to isolate. We have to stay away so that we do not spread this virus.”

Jayakar said he understands people are concerned, but if you wouldn’t have gone to the hospital for your symptoms before the coronavirus crisis, you shouldn’t do so now.

Instead, check in with your own doctor. You can also call one of the many hotlines set up to answer questions about the coronavirus.

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