Alexandria, VA

There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing you could be helping and being unable to. It’s a plight doctors like Del Ray’s Matthew Haden are experiencing with the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been extremely frustrating,” Haden said. “We feel sidelined. We’re trained to help for something like this, but we can’t. It’s extremely frustrating to know we can only help virtually, which often means not being able to help those in need.”

Haden said his office has always done telemedicine, but with the pandemic he’s had to direct nearly all patients except those with injuries to telemedicine.

“We’ve seen an uptick in new patients who need telemedicine to screen for coronavirus,” Haden said, “and we’ve had more interest from the public in one-off visits. That’s the primary change. We’ve had more panicked and scared messages from our patients.”

Haden isn’t alone in that. Other primary care providers in Alexandria have been switching primarily to telemedicine, including the Inova hospital system.

Haden says he does what he can to help concerned patients through the coronavirus testing online, which is mainly walking them through the CDC screening guidelines and giving them his up-to-date understanding of the symptoms. The challenge comes with getting them access to the actual tests.

“Actual testing has been more of a problem, like the nasal swap,” Haden said. “We have not been able to get the necessary medical supplies to conduct tests safely. We couldn’t get swabs at all, then we were able to get ten from one lab and three from another, but it’s been difficult to get personal safety equipment.”

Haden says he’s been collecting donated masks from around the Del Ray community and was able to snag the last six coveralls from Home Depot for his team. Haden says it’s important to get testing up and running because many people who don’t have active symptoms could still be spreading the virus without knowing it.

At Inova, tests are available but only for those exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus.

The best thing that Haden said the public can do is to follow the governor’s order to stay at home.

“Stay home,” Haden said. “It takes everyone being aggressive and vigilant now to shut this down. I know people are very impacted by economic consequence — but it will get much worse if we don’t shut it down now. It really takes isolation to keep this from spreading because people can be spreading it and not have symptoms, or think they have a virus or a cold. The public needs to take it seriously so we don’t have a sudden surge.”

File photo

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Morning Notes

T.C. Football Coach Steps Down — “James Longerbeam stepped down as head coach of the T.C. Williams High School football team on Feb. 3. Longerbeam has served as head coach since 2016, when he moved from Panama City, Florida to Alexandria to take the position. He cited his father’s recent passing and his mother’s dementia as reasons for his decision in a Facebook post.” [Alexandria Times]

Local Doctor Helps the Homeless — “Dr. William Mazzella has a message for the homeless living on the streets of Alexandria, Virginia. ‘I have the medicines,’ Mazzella said. ‘I have the bandages, the training, and I’m here to help you if you will have me…’ He has formed a nonprofit called MedStreet, which is accepting donations and seeking volunteers to help continue his work and help more people.” [WTOP]

Old Town Chocolate Shop Reveals Shape Secrets — “The owners of a Northern Virginia chocolate shop are urging customers to be aware of what’s in a box of chocolates before making a purchase this Valentine’s Day. If the customer’s preference is chewy over gooey caramels, it might be wise to consider rectangular-shaped versus square candy from a heart-shaped holiday box… said Robert Ludlow, who co-owns Alexandria, Virginia, shop Fleurir Chocolates.” [WTOP]

Investigators Reveal Massive Fire’s Cause, Cost — The massive fire at the South Alex development along Route 1 “started in the second-floor trash chute of the residential portion of a multi-use complex. The cause of the fire was improperly discarded smoking materials. Damage figures include the total loss of the main buildings under construction, 14 townhouses, and one trailer. The amount also includes damage to five apartment buildings, 14 additional townhouses, four single family homes, 29 vehicles, and multiple pieces of construction equipment. Damage total as a result of the fire is $48,171,075.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

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