Dr. Ruth Spinner, Senior Medical Director on the Second Wave, Staying Safe During the Holidays and the Flu Shot
Text transcript of the interview with Dr. Spinner –
Hi, my name is Dr. Ruth Spinner, and I’m a geriatrician and Senior Medical Director at The New Jewish Home. As Senior Medical Director, I oversee the medical staff at our nursing homes, and I also put policies and procedures in place to care for and protect the older adults under our care. I was also appointed in the spring as director of our COVID-19 task force.
In this role, I’ve been guiding our organization through the original outbreak in the spring through a relatively quiet summer, and now preparing us in case we have a second wave this fall. There’s been a lot of talk about whether we are going to see a second wave or a second surge, especially in New York City. Whether or not that happens, we can’t predict, but we do know that we’re in a much better position than we were when we were first hit in March.
First of all, we’ve got testing in place with quick results. We’re testing all of our staff and most of our residents on a routine basis. That way, if we detect anybody with positive results, Additionally, we’re doing contact tracing. So if somebody is positive, we’re finding out if they had contact with anybody else and we’re quarantining those people. This is an extremely effective way of preventing spread, and we have been doing this since the summer and through the fall. The other thing that we have are extremely tight infection control procedures, including the use of PPE. We’ve increased all of our stocks of PPE, we’ve implemented eye shields, and are continuing to use PPE in the best possible protocols to protect our healthcare personnel.
This year, it’s more important than ever to get your flu shot. The flu shot is recommended for most people over the age of six months. Getting the flu shot can help prevent getting the flu. If you do get the flu, your symptoms, most likely, will be milder. The flu shot can help prevent hospitalizations in both children and adults and even death, in some cases. Additionally, as we are on the verge of flu season, and in the midst of the COVID pandemic, we want to prevent what’s being referred to as the “twin-demic”: outbreaks and surges of both viruses at the same time, that could cause a surge to the hospitals and the healthcare system.
There are many ways that you can enjoy the holiday season while still staying safe. We are still in the midst of the pandemic. It is important to avoid any unnecessary travel. We have many remote options, ways to see family remotely through Zoom, phone calls, and other ways. We’re on the verge of a vaccine, and hopefully, this time next year, we will be able to rejoin with families.
But for now, try and avoid unnecessary travel. If you will be meeting with family, outdoor options are safest. It’s always important to socially distance and wear masks. Even if you are with friends or family, it doesn’t mean that you or they won’t contract COVID-19 from each other. Many people are asymptomatic and don’t even know that they have it.