Keeping well in the pandemic

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Dear all, 

The past year of our lives has been anything but normal. There has been so much difficulty, pain, and loss. It is hard to wrap our heads around how much can change in one year. Winter was here and as Spring comes with warmer and longer days, I am reminded again that this too shall pass. Our goal at this medical practice is to provide our patients with care and support. Much has changed in how we provide medical care, and more than ever we are reaching out to you through virtual and online methods.

This posting is intended to provide some tools and tips for coping throughout the year. As your physicians, we wanted to share some of our most helpful resources. 

Most importantly, we recommend everyone who is eligible get the COVID vaccine when your turn comes around. To book your appointment and check for current eligibility, please look here for Toronto organizations (clinics, hospitals, etc.) or here for Ontario Vaccine Portal.  

COVID and Chronic Illness

Chronic medical conditions, like diabetes or hypertension, are still affecting many individuals. In fact, over the last year it has likely been more challenging to treat and monitor your health. Many health conditions can be directly affected if you become ill with COVID, and other health conditions have progressed due to the isolation of the pandemic. 
Click the links below for educational resources and trusted advice regarding how COVID may impact different medical conditions.

Asthma & COPD
Arthritis
Cancer
Chronic Kidney Disease
Diabetes
Dementia
Heart Disease and Stroke

Screening and Illness Prevention

There are only a few conditions that are routinely screened for in primary care. Screening attempts to identify early signs of the disease and either treat or prevent progression of the illness. Vaccinating your children is a form of preventative care. 

Over the last year, we have had to reconsider the risks and benefits of routine preventative screening in a global pandemic. As your family physicians, we consider each individual patient in the context of published guidelines and will continue to provide appropriate preventative care. Below are some general guidelines.

ConditionEligibility For ScreeningAge RangeHow Frequently?
Type II DiabetesAll40 and olderEvery 3 years
Elevated Lipids (Cholesterol) All40 and olderVariable
HypertensionAllAllVariable
Colon CancerAll50 -74Every 2 – 5 years
Cervical CancerAll individuals who have a cervix and have been sexually active21 – 69Every 3 years
Breast CancerAll individuals with breasts50 – 74Every 2 years
Lung CancerAll current and previous long-term smokers (over 30 years of smoking)55 – 74Once
Prostate CancerMost individuals should not be screened.  

Routine Vaccination Schedule Ontario – Birth to Adulthood

COVID and Mental Health

Every one of us has been impacted by the drastic change in our day-to-day life over the last year. At some point you may have felt angry, overwhelmed, hopeless – all of which are normal emotions in response to an incredibly difficult circumstance that we have little control over. 

If you have not already, try to take a moment just by yourself and reflect on the previous year. What thoughts or emotions are you experiencing right now? What do you think is contributing to these emotions? If you identify that you are overly worried or anxious, consider challenging these worries and anxious thoughts. If you or loved ones are coping with difficult challenges or problems, it may be helpful to have a structured approach that helps prevent becoming overwhelmed and breaks issues down into more manageable pieces. 

If you found this reflection helpful, I encourage you to seek out other recommendations by CAMH on coping with stress and anxiety.  Another great resource to start off with is this PDF which guides you through the different local and virtual mental health and counselling options available. 

There are a few larger Ontario-based organizations that provide free therapy counselling sessions to adults. These are virtual and usually limited to a finite number of sessions (e.g. 6 sessions over a few months). They are Mind Beacon and BounceBack OntarioThe government of Canada also funded Wellness Together Canada, a free mental wellness program that provides resources and individual counselling. 

You may have heard how helpful Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is at managing anxiety disorders and several other mental health conditions. There are OHIP-covered online CBT options available through Scarborough Health NetworkAbilitiCBT and teleCBT.ca

Finally, the Ontario government also provides a landing page with mental health resources here

COVID and Your Kids

One of the greatest unknowns is the impact that isolation and virtual learning has had on youth. Many families have re-organized their entire lives to adjust to virtual learning and with the changes comes significant challenges. The final resource I will share with you is a fairly comprehensive blog post on pediatric anxiety and dealing with the coronavirus. For most other health questions, this is a great landing spot.

I hope some of the resources provided will be helpful in this challenging time. Please reach out to us if you need our support. As your primary care providers we are here to help.

Dr. Dan Cojocaru