Healthy Living 2023

Working Together Towards a Healthy Community

Winter virus season started early and many hospitals saw an increase in sick patients with one of many circulating viruses, including the flu, COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). While RSV and flu hospitalizations continue to plateau or fall in some areas, COVID-19 rates are up again, driven by holiday gatherings and an even more transmissible variant. At this time, Dignity Health – Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center (GMHHC) encourages you to help protect yourself and the most vulnerable by remaining vigilant.

Dr. William Wang, chief medical officer at GMHHC, said, “There are measures you can take to help keep yourself and those you love healthy and out of the hospital. For example, be sure you’re vaccinated and up-to-date [with vaccinations]. The flu vaccine and bivalent COVID-19 booster continue to be your best defense to limit severe illness and death – and you can get both at the same time.”

Two small studies were recently published that question how well the latest bivalent vaccine protects you compared to the original version, but it does not question the fact that at-risk people still need a booster to help prevent severe disease.

The bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine includes a component of the original virus strain and the omicron variant to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.

“Getting the bivalent booster is especially important if you’re aged 65 years and above, immunocompromised or have underlying conditions,” explained Dr. Wang.

As with other infectious diseases, the best way to prevent the spread is to wash your hands often, cover your coughs and clean surfaces. Other best practices involve avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated parties, restaurants, bars and other places; testing before gathering; and putting a mask on in risky situations.

Most people infected with the virus will experience mild-to-moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Headache, fatigue, body aches and brain fog are common symptoms of COVID-19. Loss of taste and smell are unique to COVID-19 versus other viruses.

If you test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19, you should stay away from others, even at home and even if you have been vaccinated. According to the latest guidance from the California Dept. of Public Health, you should isolate for at least five full days after your symptoms start or after your first positive test date if you don’t have symptoms.

So when should you go to the hospital or call a doctor? Breathing problems are cause for concern and require immediate medical help. Other signs you should watch out for include high fever; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new numbness or tingling in the extremities; bluish or grayish lips, face or nails; and any other serious symptoms.

If the infected or exposed person is going to a medical office, emergency room or urgent care center, the facility should be notified ahead of time that the person is infected with or has been exposed to COVID-19; the person should wear a mask for the clinical visit.

“While we cannot predict the impact COVID will have on our community in the weeks or months ahead, we remain steadfast in our commitment to identifying and treating patients who come to our hospital,” said Dr. Wang. “The health and safety of our community is our top priority, and we want to thank you in advance for all you do to help keep Glendale and its surrounding areas healthy.”