What Is Herd Immunity

The existence of COVID-19 has introduced us to many new terms that we may not completely understand. One of those terms is “herd immunity.”

Herd immunity describes how the spread of a contagious disease can be controlled after a large enough portion of the population, (referred to as “the herd”) becomes immune.

A disease is most contagious when everyone in the community is at risk of contracting it. If a sizable percentage becomes immune however, it makes it harder for the disease to reach those susceptible because the herd blocks its ability to reach them.  As a result, the entire community becomes better protected.

There are two ways to achieve herd immunity: vaccination or infection and recovery.

  • Vaccination – Vaccines create immunity without causing illness or resulting complications. Vaccines have successfully controlled deadly contagious diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, rubella and many others. Herd immunity by vaccination protects people who are unable to be vaccinated due to age or other conditions.
  • Natural infection – Herd immunity can also be reached when a sufficient number of people in the population have recovered from a disease and have developed antibodies against future infection. For example, those who survived the 1918 flu (influenza) pandemic were later immune to infection to the H1N1 flu, a subtype of influenza A.

The percentage of a community that needs to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies from disease to disease. The more contagious a disease is, there will need to be a greater proportion of the population that is immune to the disease to stop its spread. For example, the measles is a highly contagious illness, therefore it’s estimated that 94% of the population must be immune to interrupt the chain of transmission.

It is important to note that while herd immunity can reduce the risk of getting a disease, it does not prevent it. Until an effective COVID-19 vaccine is developed, it is important to follow all safety guidelines to protect against the transmission of the virus, including:

  • Avoiding large events and mass gatherings.
  • Avoiding close contact with others, (within 6 feet).
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Wearing a face mask or covering in public spaces.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoiding sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items if you’re sick.
  • Cleaning and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily.
  • Staying home from work, school and public areas if you’re sick, unless you’re going to get medical care.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Tips To Avoid Spreading COVID At Super Bowl Gatherings

Like so many other events over the past 12 months, this year’s Super Bowl celebrations will be different from previous ones. The “Big Game” is typically one of the largest social events of the year, but because of the COVID pandemic, large gatherings are strongly discouraged.

The fact that we are unable to get together the way we normally would doesn’t mean we still can’t have a fun experience.

One way to enjoy the game with extended friends and family is to host a virtual event.  This is considered the safest way to celebrate the Super Bowl. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the ways to make a virtual event fun include:

  • Wear clothing or decorate your home with your favorite team’s logo or colors.
  • Make appetizers or snacks with the people you live with to enjoy while watching the game and share the recipes with your friends and family.
  • Start a text group with other fans to chat about the game while watching.

Another option is to use a projector screen to host an outdoor viewing event.  While not as safe as a virtual event, getting together outdoors is considered less risky than an indoor event. 

Normal behavior at Super Bowl gatherings include a lot of shouting, cheering and laughing. When this occurs outdoors, the tiny droplets of saliva that come out of our mouths is better dispersed into the environment and become more diluted, making the risk of infection less likely. 

When hosting an outdoor party, some safety tips include spacing guests six feet apart and encouraging everyone bring their own snacks.

Like holiday gathering, Super Bowl parties can be super-spreader events. Following these suggestions will help control the spread of COVID and save lives.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Understanding COVID Data

The COVID pandemic has put a halt to or severely altered many aspects of our lives.

Many of the decisions made about where we are permitted to go and what we are permitted to do is predicated on the results of COVID data collected in our communities.  Although this information is readily available to us via multiple sources, do we really fully comprehend it?

Some of the information gathered can be difficult to interpret while other statistics, when received out of context, can be misleading.  Below are some insights to help you navigate the constant stream of COVID data.

The first thing to remember is that overall case counts don’t often provide an accurate picture of the situation. While overall information on the total number of positive cases in a given city or state can offer some insight of the level of transmission, it’s only valid if enough people are being tested.  If we are testing more people, we will obviously identify more COVID positive individuals.

Instead, the better statistic to look at is the positivity rate in a given area. This data measures the percentage of total tests conducted that come back positive.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an ideal positivity rate should be less than 5%.

Another thing to point out is to not focus on a single day’s data. This is because some local and state jurisdictions don’t report data on the weekend and submit all weekend data collectively.  This can create unrealistic peaks and valleys in daily reporting. Instead, experts suggest you review what’s referred to as a “Seven Day Rolling Average”. This data takes each day’s number and averages it with the previous six days to provide a more accurate account of the prevalence of the virus.  

Lastly, there is a great deal of information out there. While staying well-informed is very important, it is equally as important to only use reliable sources.

We hope these tips will help you better navigate COVID data and make informed decisions to ensure your safety and that of your loved-ones.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What Is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is characterized as a mental fuzziness or lack of clarity.  Some of the characteristics of brain fog can include: 

  • Difficultly grasping thoughts
  • Problems finding the right words to say
  • Problems concentrating or remembering what you are doing
  • Mental exhaustion

The term “brain fog” has been associated with many medical conditions including lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease and menopause. Patients receiving chemotherapy have also reported experiencing brain fog. Most recently, the term has been mentioned as a long-term side effect of COVID-19 patients. Many of these patients, referred to as “long haulers” are currently living with this condition.

Regardless of the cause for your brain fog, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is offering the following tips to help you manage this condition:

  • Get more sleep – Sleep deprivation can make it difficult for you to think clearly during the day. It is recommended that you receive 8-9 hours of sleep every night.
  • Exercise your body– Physical activity doesn’t only offer benefits for your body, it can also help improve memory and reaction time.
  • Exercise your brain – Regularly challenge your brain power by participating in puzzles and other activities. Also seek other enjoyable activities that will keep your brain engaged.
  • Decrease stress – Identify coping skills such as removing stressful elements in your life and saying no to requests that can cause stress. Meditation and journaling are also good techniques to help you manage stress.
  • Monitor your diet – A diet lacking in vitamins (such as B12) and minerals can lead to poor brain function. Some suggested foods to incorporate into your diet include walnuts, fatty fishes, blueberries and turmeric.
  • Check your medications – Certain migraine and anti-seizure prescriptions as well as over-the-counter sleep aid and allergy medications can have potential side-effects linked to brain fog.

If you are currently living with conditions associated with brain fog as a result of COVID-19, Jamaica Hospital has opened a Post-COVID Care Center to help you manage your long-hauler symptoms.  We incorporate a holistic approach to care for our patients, combining the best of conventional medicine and alternative therapies.

To make an appointment, please call 718-736-8204.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

COVID-19 Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

2020 has been a year where we have altered so many aspects of our daily lives. With the arrival of the holiday season, it only makes sense that we will also be forced to change the way we do our holiday shopping.

Normally, during this time of year, malls would be packed as shoppers seek the perfect holiday gifts for their loved ones. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our ability (or comfort level) to go to conventional brick-and-mortar stores.

To help you prepare for a very different holiday shopping season, Jamaica Hospital is offering the following safety tips:

  • Shop from home – Recent studies have indicated that nearly half of Americans plan to complete most of their holiday shopping online this year. If you plan to do this, please keep in mind that this uptick in online shopping could mean inventory shortages and shipping delays, so it is recommended to start early.
  • Look at alternative types of gifts – There has never been a time when do-it-yourself gifts are more appropriate. In addition to helping you avoid going to stores, they are also fun gifts to receive because they are thoughtful and made with love. If you are not that crafty, you should consider other gift options, such as gift cards, streaming service subscriptions, meal kits or boxes, or even making a charitable donation on behalf of the gift recipient.
  • Start early – Some gifts however might be best purchased in person. If you plan on going to the mall, try to start your shopping early before the holiday rush. Many stores have not waited for “Black Friday” to begin their holiday sales, so it is easier to find bargains now and avoid last-second craziness. Also try to shop at non-peak times such as early in the day or during the week to avoid the crowds.
  • Support local businesses – If possible, try to shop locally and support some of the smaller businesses in your community. These “mom and pop” stores could benefit from your support and they may also be a safer option than some of the larger, more crowded stores.
  • Understand the new reality – Many stores have put into place shopping restrictions and regulations for the safety of their employees and customers. This may include limiting the number of shoppers allowed into the store at one time. Some stores are even creating shopping appointments for their customers. While these regulations might prolong your shopping experience, they are intended for your protection so please exercise patience.

As with every other aspect of life, when shopping, it is extremely important to follow all safety measures when shopping. This includes wearing a mask at all times and practicing proper hand washing and social distancing rules to limit your chances of contracting COVID or any other transmittable disease.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Jamaica Hospital Adopts Integrative Healthcare Model to Treat Post-COVID Patients

Post-COVID  Recovery In Queens

For people living with the long-term symptoms of COVID-19, Jamaica Hospital’s Post-COVID Care Center offers a comprehensive treatment approach.

Doctors at the center are adopting an integrative care model to treat these patients, commonly referred to as “long haulers.” These individuals typically experience a variety of lingering physical symptoms including fatigue, muscle and body pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and headaches. In addition to these physical symptoms, many long haulers also encounter cognitive deficits, such as difficulty concentrating or focusing (commonly referred to as mental fog) as well as mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

This holistic approach to treating patients with Long COVID begins with gathering an initial, comprehensive patient history. This is performed through the utilization of the HOPE note, a tool to elicit the information needed from a patient to better understand their issues beyond the regular medical visit.  Information gathered in the HOPE note includes learning about various lifestyle factors, such as eating, exercise, and sleep habits of the patient. Collecting these details allows doctors to create a customized treatment plan for their patients.

Beyond the initial detailed patient intake form, doctors at Jamaica Hospital’s Post-COVID Care Center also incorporate integrative techniques such as practicing mindful meditation and beginning a gratitude journal.  Both of these activities have proven to offer benefits not only for the patient’s mental health but also for their physical health, highlighting the connection between the mind and body.

Providers also help their patients improve their overall health by creating a customized exercise plan, taking into consideration their past and current level of physical fitness. This can include a walking regimen, yoga or stretching.

Another key aspect of the Integrative Care team at Jamaica Hospital’s Post-COVID Care Center’s treatment plan is the incorporation of a diet that focuses on reducing inflammation.  The anti-inflammatory diet involves the elimination of foods and beverages high in fat and increasing the consumption of vegetables and lean proteins, such as fish.  Another aspect of this diet is the incorporation of turmeric, which can help address joint stiffness and muscle pain, both common symptoms reported by long-haulers.

Of course, the integrated care approach doesn’t just offer alternative forms of treatment; instead, it uses them in addition to traditional forms of Western medicine.  The Center’s team of primary care physicians, pulmonologists and mental health professionals incorporate the best of both worlds to provide a comprehensive care approach to help their patients recover from symptoms they may have been experiencing for months. To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Post COVID Care Center to receive this pioneering care plan for your post-COVID symptoms, please call  718-736-8204.

To learn more about our Post-COVID Care Center, please visit, https://jamaicahospital.org/post-covid-care-center/

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Our Post-COVID Care Center Is Now Open

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, most health authorities were operating under the belief that the virus, while extremely dangerous for some, was a short-term illness. Most young, healthy individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus were told to expect to sustain a variety of symptoms that could last anywhere from two to six weeks.

Now, however, doctors are seeing a growing number of patients who are enduring lingering symptoms for an extended period of time. These patients are now being referred to as “Long Haulers.”

For long haulers, symptoms of the virus can drag on for multiple months. Some of the most common lingering symptoms include fatigue, muscle and body pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and headaches. In addition to these physical symptoms, many long haulers are also reporting a variety of cognitive deficits, such as difficulty concentrating or focusing (commonly referred to as mental fog). Other patients may also experience mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

With nearly a quarter of a million reported cases of COVID-19 in New York City over the past six months, many of the City’s residents are still experiencing the long-term effects of the virus. To help these patients, the MediSys Health Network (comprised of Jamaica and Flushing Hospital Medical Center, the Trump Pavilion for Nursing and Rehabilitation, and a network of community-based MediSys ambulatory care centers) has opened a Post-COVID Care Center in Hollis Tudors, Queens.

At this center, long haulers, as well as others experiencing post-COVID symptoms can receive specialized care from a multi-disciplinary group of qualified physicians. “We were compelled to help those in our community who are still dealing with the effects of the virus” stated Dr. Alan Roth, Chairman of Ambulatory Care and Family Medicine, who added “Queens was considered the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in March and April. During that time we treated thousands of patients. While the situation in our community has greatly improved recently, we know that there is still work to be done, including continuing to treat patients living with long-term symptoms.”

The MediSys Health Network’s Post-COVID Care Center provides patients with personalized, comprehensive care, coordinated by a primary care physician, who will work with other on-site specialists, including pulmonologists, neurologists, and psychiatrists, all dedicated to helping our patients better manage their condition.

For more information about our services, or to make an appointment at our Post-COVID Care center, please call  718-736-8204.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

COVID-19 Summer Precautions

Just as spring was about to begin, the pandemic struck and forced us to change our lifestyles. This included the closing of schools and non-essential businesses, as well as restricting most of our person- to -person interactions.

Now that we are approaching summer, and the weather is warming up, more and more people are starting to go outdoors to parks, beaches, and other places. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t be an issue, however, due to the risk of spreading COVID-19, we have to be careful about becoming exposed to the virus.

Recently we have seen a general “flattening of the curve” which means fewer people are being hospitalized and succumbing to the virus. While this is a very positive step in the right direction, we have to be cautiously optimistic and must not let our guard down.

It is important to remember that the number of coronavirus cases has declined as a result of people staying home as much as possible and following the recommended safety guidelines.

To continue this trend, we must adhere to the rules that allowed us to get to this point. This includes:

  • Practicing social distancing – keeping at least six feet apart from others
  • Avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people
  • Wearing masks
  • Sanitizing our hands
  • Sanitizing surfaces that we commonly come in contact with

Taking these precautions will help to protect our health as our cities and towns begin to reopen. By remaining vigilant we can achieve our collective goal of further flattening the curve.

For more information and the latest developments of the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit www.cdc.gov

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Antibody Testing

Antibody testing has become a popular topic during the COVID-19 pandemic.  There have been ongoing discussions as to whether or not this form of testing can provide answers to some questions we have about the disease.

Common questions asked about COVID-19 antibody testing include: “Can antibodies help detect past infections?” and “Does having antibodies reduce our risk of infection?”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the presence of antibodies (proteins produced by our body’s immune system to fight antigens such as viruses) can help to determine if you had a past infection of the virus that causes COVID-19.

A blood test, known as a serology test, is required to detect disease-specific antibodies.  Testing is typically recommended for individuals who have fully recovered from COVID-19 or those who suspect they had or were exposed to the virus but were asymptomatic.

Positive or negative results could mean several things for your health:

  • A positive antibody test result indicates that you may have had a COVID-19 infection in the past. However, results can also be false-positive, meaning you have developed antibodies but for a different kind of coronavirus such as the one that causes the common cold. It is very important to remember that a positive test does not guarantee immunity from the disease; so there is a possibility that you can become re-infected. Therefore you should continue to exercise the proper safety precautions to protect yourself and others around you.
  • If you test negative, this may mean that you have not had a prior COVID-19 infection. But it can also mean that you may currently have the virus and have not yet produced antibodies (If you have symptoms of the disease or believe you have been exposed, you can take a viral test to learn if you have the virus.)  For those who have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 but tested negative, please keep in mind that it may take 1-3 weeks after infection to develop antibodies.

Although antibody testing is providing some answers about COVID-19, there is still a degree of uncertainty about the accuracy of the information we are obtaining.  COVID-19 is a novel disease, and ongoing studies are revealing new details about it each day.  Until we are more certain in our knowledge of the disease, the CDC recommends that we continue to practice social distancing and other safety measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

To learn more antibody testing please consult your physician or visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/testing/serology-overview.html

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

The Importance of Monitoring Chronic Illnesses During the COVID-19 Crisis

Many health care facilities have seen a decrease in people seeking care for chronic conditions due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This can be attributed to fears of being exposed to the virus in public places or the temporary suspension of certain services offered by healthcare providers.

Although the outbreak has caused alterations in the way we live, one thing that should remain unchanged for those living with chronic illnesses is monitoring their health. It is important that they pay attention to symptoms that warn of serious health problems, because ignoring them may put their lives at risk.

Symptoms of chronic illnesses that should not be ignored include:

  • Chest pain, pressure in your chest, shortness of breath or other heart attack symptoms
  • Sudden numbness, weakness, confusion, loss of vision or other stroke symptoms
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heavy bleeding
  • High fever
  • Spikes in blood sugar (Diabetes)
  • Nausea

If these symptoms are persistent, please contact a physician for a medical consultation or seek emergency treatment. Medical facilities are well equipped to safely treat non-COVID-19 patients and many doctors are offering telehealth appointments. Some hospitals are also reopening their outpatient locations. 

In addition to monitoring symptoms, it is important to maintain healthy habits. This can be achieved by keeping routine appointments (virtually or in person), taking prescribed medications, exercising, and eating a well-balanced diet.  

If you have a non-COVID-19 related chronic medical condition or symptoms and would like to see a doctor, please contact Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001, to schedule an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.