Dr. Gordon Street, Ph.D, discusses Social Distancing

Posted on April 21, 2020
Dr. Gordon Street, Ph.D, discusses Social Distancing

Health Access Network’s dedicated staff are taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, and you should too.

The best way of preventing spread of the virus, of protecting yourself and your family, is to act like you might be infected yourself.  The more you protect others, the more you protect yourself.  The best step we can all take to protect everyone is to keep our distance from others, at least 6 feet away, more if possible.  This is why the recommendation right now is NOT to go to work, to shop, or to gather together in any way unless you have to – you should stay home.  That’s what we call social distancing.

You can think of it this way.  If you are infected and don’t engage in any social distancing, you are likely to infect 2 to 3 persons every 5 days, and then you and those other persons you infected would be responsible for infecting another 400 people over 30 days.  But if you reduce your contact with other people by half – so you only infect 1 or 2 people in 5 days – you would cut the number of people infected by you over 30 days by more than 95%, down to about 15 persons.  If you reduce your contact even more – by 75% – you would only be responsible for infecting 2 to 3 people every 30 days. 

That’s why here at Health Access Network (HAN) we are following the CDC’s recommendations of postponing all non-essential clinic visits. That means we have drastically cut back on the number of patients we are seeing in our clinics for now.  To support our community and individual medical needs, our staff has ramped up our appointments by telehealth (video calls  through your smart phone or computer, or telephone calls) to check-in and make sure your care is managed as best as possible at this time. 

HAN is trying to:

  • Protect our staff from infection so that they can continue to work and provide medical care to those most in need of it; and
  • Protect you by keeping you away from other patients since many of them will be at higher likelihood of being infected.  Therefore, we are asking you NOT to come to our offices unless you have a serious medical problem that needs to be addressed in person.  Please call us first (207.794.6700) to find out if we can take care of your problem over the phone, if your problem is so serious you need to go to a hospital, or if you should come into one of our clinics for medical care despite the risk of coronavirus infection.  

Some other things that you can do to protect yourself and others include:

  • Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow instead of your hand
  • Wash your hands more frequently, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, or visiting a public place (such as grocery, church, or health clinic)
  • Wash your hands more thoroughly, from fingertips to wrists and for 20 seconds or more
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • If you need to shop in person (rather than by phone or computer):
    • Wipe the handle of your basket or cart with a disinfecting cloth
    • Choose fruits and vegetables visually, not by touch, and wash them when you get home
    • Don’t stop to chat and stay more than a cart length away from others
    • Express appreciation for the employees, especially the cashiers and bagging staff, who are staying at work despite increased risk of infection
    • Ask someone else to shop for you and leave the bags outside your door if you have symptoms
  • If you shop by phone or computer, leave the box outside for 24 hours if you can to let any virus on the packaging die and wash your hands after unpacking the contents

Our staff at HAN are concerned with last month’s National Public Radio (NPR)/Marist poll, which showed many Americans were NOT taking the pandemic seriously.  Fewer than half of adult Americans reported changing behaviors as recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  We are hoping that Mainers will do better than that and continue to keep our coronavirus infection rates lower than the national average. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to completely prevent infections, but with your help we can reduced the spread of the novel coronavirus.  Let’s make Maine a leader in the fight against COVID-19.

Making a difference in the lives of our patients and our community.

Providing compassionate, high quality healthcare services for all.