As autumn breezes grow chillier in Northwest Indiana with the gradual changing of seasons, they bring with them common cold-weather ailments. This will only worsen as North America freezes over in the winter. However, unlike in years past, people have another issue to worry about in addition to the usual slew: COVID-19.
With so many illnesses thriving and spreading during the wintertime, particularly respiratory illnesses, knowing when to get tested for COVID-19 is trickier than it was in the spring and summer. Family Nurse Practitioner and Director of Clinical Operations Kaitlyn Steinberg said testing for other illnesses before COVID-19 is key to keeping Midwest Express Clinic functioning smoothly and keeping patients in optimal health.
“Anyone who comes in with upper respiratory symptoms is likely going to automatically get an in-house flu test,” Steinberg said. “If they’re coming in with a sore throat, they’ll also get an in-house strep test. Another thing we can test for is mono. That tends to be common in individuals ages 14-24. We also have a Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) test for those children who are two and younger.”
“We are going to be using these other tests to try and rule out things along the way. If somebody comes back positive for the flu, there’s a smaller chance that they have COVID-19. It’s the same thing if they come back with strep throat or an ear infection. Those all kind of take us away from COVID-19. We’re trying to see if we can find something else. If we can’t rule anything out, we advise patients to go home and quarantine until their results come back.”
Similarities between COVID-19 and other winter ailments include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and other symptoms. While these COVID-19 symptoms do overlap with other illnesses such as the common cold and influenza. Two symptoms that set COVID-19 apart from many other ailments are the loss of taste and smell. For a more in-depth look at differing and overlapping symptoms of winter illnesses, check out their winter Illness Guide.
For those who decide to get tested for COVID-19 after researching their symptoms and taking a survey or because of a job or school requirement, they can expect to receive the PCR Nasal Swab Test, which involves getting a nasal swab, sending it to a lab, and getting a result back in three to five days.
“One of the hardest parts we’re dealing with involves jobs and schools,” Steinberg said. “A lot of jobs and schools will not let people go back unless they have a negative test result, so the majority of people are going ahead and getting the test done if they’re having any symptoms. It’s tricky for us to both follow the CDC guidelines and keep our patients happy.”
Midwest Express Clinic is doing its utmost to keep patients healthy. After patients are tested for COVID-19, their follow-up visits are nearly always conducted through TeleMed to limit any unnecessary exposure of patients and staff at the facilities. During the initial visit for testing, Midwest Express Clinic has put additional measures in place to keep everyone well-protected.
“We’ve been dealing with COVID-19 for a few months now, but things are constantly changing,” Steinberg said. “As a company, we’re doing our best to adapt so we can give our patient quality care. All our staff does follow the CDC guidelines. The majority of our offices have designated areas for our patients who are deemed high risk for COVID-19. We do try to keep them separate from our patients who are coming in for separate things.”
Whether you are concerned about COVID-19, the flu, a common cold, or otherwise, Midwest Express Clinic is ready to help you get healthy and stay safe. For more information about Midwest Express Clinic and find a location near you, visit https://midwestexpressclinic.com/.