LA’s Public Schools Are Closed. Here’s How to Help Your Kids.

March 22, 2020

Last week, LA Unified School District officials announced that public schools would close to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. COVID-19 is a serious threat that still isn’t quite understood. While the closures are necessary to protect public health, there are now hundreds of thousands of parents unsure of what to do with their kids unexpectedly out of school.  These tips will help you give your kids the support they need to do their best so we can all get through this together.


Talk to Your Children About What’s Happening

Section 1You can be a voice of strength and reliability when your kids need it most. They’ve already heard about the COVID-19 outbreak, and they’ve probably seen people wearing masks and gloves. Have an honest conversation with them.

If you’re feeling anxious or scared, wait to address their concerns until you can show them you’re calm. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Be honest. Let them ask questions and do your best to provide them with truthful answers. Keep it age-appropriate but don’t sugarcoat it. 
  • Emphasize what we can do to stay safe. Talk about the importance of handwashing (and how to do it right – remember, 20 seconds) and explain why everyone is being asked to stay in their homes (social distancing).
  • Remind them that this is temporary. Let them know that things will go back to normal. Until then, they’re always welcome to ask you questions if something is worrying them.

 

Stick to a Routine

Section 2Creating, and then sticking to, structure can comfort children, especially in uncertain times. Whenever schools reopen, your kids will be ready to go back if they have a good routine now. 

  • Have your child get up at the same time as they would normally.
  • Even if it seems cozier to work in pajamas, insist that your child shower, groom properly, and put on real clothes. You should set a good example for them and follow these tips yourself.
  • Set up an area of your house especially for schoolwork and homework – in fact, you may want to create a couple of different areas, similar to the school experience. Keep these areas comfortable but free of distractions. 
  • Structure lessons and homework similar to a school day, with time for working on specific subjects, breaks, and lunch. 

 

Get Some Help from Public Television

Section 3Ideally, your children’s schools have provided some learning opportunities and lesson plans. Southern California’s public television channels are also stepping in to provide educational programming that meets California standards. According to Deadline, KCET and SoCal PBS will be rolling out scholastic programming to help fill the gaps:

  • PBS SoCal will run programming for pre-K through 2nd grade. 
  • KLCS will run programming for grades 3 to 8.
  • KCET will run programming for grades 9 to 12. 
  • PBS SoCal and KCET will air their normally scheduled programming in primetime. 
  • KLCS will continue to air a mix of pre-K through grade 12 content throughout the evening and overnight.

All of the stations’ websites and social media channels will feature additional educational programming, so make sure to tune in and log on to take advantage of it.

All of the stations’ websites and social media channels will feature additional educational programming, so make sure to tune in and log on to take advantage of it.

 

Don’t Throw Out Your Healthy Eating Habits

During times of uncertainty, it’s natural to want comfort – and reach for comfort foods like tamales, macaroni and cheese, and pizza. Even though these foods are tasty and sometimes feel like a hug from the inside out, now is the time to double-down on healthy eating! A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains can help keep us well, support our immune systems, and help maintain a healthy weight. 

  • Serve a wide variety of foods to help kids get the nutrients they need.
  • Sugary and fatty foods can also make you feel down or anxious, so keep treats to a minimum.
  • Provide healthy snacks, but remember, you’re the gatekeeper: just because they’re home, they can’t go to the fridge whenever they want.
  • Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that ‘superfoods’ like garlic can treat COVID-19. Natural foods may have good general health benefits, but there’s no miracle food that will prevent or cure the disease.


Help is Available if You Need It

 


woman on phoneAs a parent, you’re supposed to be strong for your kids, but we know it isn’t always easy, especially during these uncertain times. AltaMed is here for you – and so are many additional community resources. 

If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or find yourself turning to alcohol or drugs to cope, contact AltaMed Behavioral Health Services. Call us at (855) 425-1777

LAUSD is opening 60 centers that will be stocked with ‘grab and go’ meals. Hours are from 7am to 10am, but please check the website and the maps before you go.

Many retailers and organizations in our community are stepping up to help out. This includes El Torito restaurants, offering free meals to children 12 and under; as well as Everytable, offering free food to everyone who needs it, including home delivery for seniors. To learn more, call Everytable Helpline at 323-458-6487, or follow their Instagram for updates.

And finally, one piece of good news: for now, your SNAP benefits are safe. Mayor Eric Garcetti has assured us all that grocery stores will continue to be open and stocked with necessities, so use your benefits wisely. 

We know it’s a lot to deal with, but if we all stick together and help each other, there’s nothing we can’t overcome!
 

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COVID-19, Flu, Allergies or a Cold? A Helpful Guide to Knowing the Difference

March 17, 2020

In Southern California, flu season seems to last longer and longer each year. Thanks to drier winters and less rain, allergy season starts earlier every year. And at the moment, our nation is justifiably worried about COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus.

If you’ve got a sniffly nose, a sore throat, and a fever, you may not be 100% sure what you have. We’re here with information that will hopefully put your worries at ease, and help you determine what kind of care you need.

 

Are Coronavirus and COVID-19 the Same?

Coronavirus

Not exactly. Coronavirus refers to a large family of viruses. Some of these viruses make people sick with the common cold. COVID-19 is the name of the disease we’ve all heard about. The type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is so new, we still don’t know very much about it.

 

COVID-19 vs. the Flu (influenza)

When we started to learn about COVID-19, many people compared it to influenza, most commonly known as the flu, in terms of symptoms and how it spreads. Both are infectious respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by entirely different viruses.

Symptoms in common: Both illnesses cause fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, body aches, fatigue, and even vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms can be mild or severe and turn into pneumonia. Both can be fatal.

It may be possible for a sick person to have symptoms so mild, they don’t realize they have the disease, and so they may walk around spreading the virus to healthy people.

How the diseases spread: Both can be spread from person to person from the droplets that come from sneezing, coughing or even talking.

AND: Experts believe that COVID-19 is powerful enough to live on surfaces long after the infected person is no longer present.

Be proactive: Vaccinations are highly effective at preventing the flu. That’s why we strongly recommend everyone in your family get their shots every year.

Unfortunately, there still isn’t a vaccine for COVID-19 yet. Your best bet for preventing it is proper handwashing, staying home if you’re sick, and social isolation.

Treatment: Because both diseases are caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t do any good. Instead, doctors aim to treat symptoms, such as reducing fever and suppressing a cough. However, both can be serious and require hospitalization.

 

Coronavirus vs. Allergies

Allergy symptoms are usually quite different from COVID-19 symptoms. Unlike COVID-19, which is a virus, allergies are your immune system’s response to a foreign substance.

Symptoms: Allergy symptoms include itchy or runny nose, rashes or itchy skin, and watery eyes. In extreme cases of anaphylactic shock, your air passage shuts down, and it rapidly becomes difficult to breathe. Difficulty breathing is also a symptom of COVID-19, but with allergies, the onset is almost immediately after encountering a specific trigger.

Transmission: Allergies aren’t contagious like a cold or flu, so there’s no chance of spreading it from one person to the next. Allergies do have a genetic component, which is why it may seem like other people in your family have them at the same time you do.

Prevention: Unless you do allergy testing and shots, your best method for preventing allergic reactions is to keep an allergy diary and then stay away from your triggers.

Treatment: You can usually treat allergy symptoms with common, over-the-counter remedies, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and medicated lotions to help relieve itchy rashes and hives.

 

COVID-19 vs. the Common Cold

Mild cases of COVID-19 may be mistaken for a cold.

Symptoms in common: Because many of the symptoms are the same, it can be tough to tell the difference. Experts say that if your first symptoms included a sore throat and runny nose, it’s likely just a cold. A fever could be a sign that it’s something more than a cold.

Prevention: The common cold is famously difficult to prevent. But following the same protocol for COVID-19 should help protect you.

Treatment: There’s not much you can do for a cold, other than treating the symptoms. Time-tested advice includes getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, using a humidifier, and taking age-appropriate over-the-counter remedies.

 

When Should I Go to the Doctor?

uncomfortable throat

First off, the good news is that about 80% of COVID-19 cases resolve quickly on their own when the person stays home, gets rest, and treats the symptoms.

Unless your symptoms get dramatically worse or you feel short of breath, you may not need to seek treatment (though it's OK to call your doctor and ask). AltaMed is advising our patients to treat mild symptoms just like you would treat a cold by staying home, taking over-the-counter cold treatments like Tylenol or Nyquil. Avoid other people until your symptoms go away for at least 72 hours without having to take these medications.

 

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, please confirm with your doctor the timing of when you are no longer contagious.

To learn more about COVID-19 precautions, treatments, and news, bookmark our Coronavirus resource page. And for the time being, AltaMed is waiving the cost-sharing and co-pays for medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19.

 

When to Visit your Doctor, Urgent Care, or the ER

May 01, 2019

When you or a loved one is sick or injured, you may not be sure whether to see your primary care doctor, visit urgent care, or go to the emergency room (ER). 

We want to help you make the best decision based on your insurance coverage, what you may have to pay out of pocket, and whether the site you visit has the resources to help with your situation. If you have questions about where to seek care, call us at 888-499-9303.

 

When to See Your Primary Care Doctor

Man looking at a data board

If the situation is not an emergency and it is during regular office hours, visiting your primary care doctor is the best option. Your doctor knows you, your medical history, and what medications you take. Having an existing relationship with the doctor may also make it easier for them to fit you in quickly. 

Your primary care doctor is the best call for:

  • Skin conditions
  • A cold, the flu, a cough, or a sore throat
  • Low-grade fevers
  • Minor allergic reactions
  • Digestive troubles
  • Sinus pain
  • Vomiting

If you have private insurance, seeing your primary care doctor is also the friendliest choice for your wallet because your co-pay will be less expensive than a trip to the ER. If you don’t currently have a primary care doctor, use our  tool to find a doctor who speaks your language and is close to your work or home.

 

When to Visit Urgent Care

Woman and her child in a doctor's appointment

According to the Urgent Care Association of America, more than 88 million people visit urgent care centers each year. 

If your illness or injury is not an emergency, your primary care doctor’s office is closed (nights, weekends, holidays), and/or you believe the situation cannot wait, urgent care is your best option. Urgent care centers have the equipment to handle severe but non-emergency situations.

Urgent care centers are the best call for conditions that include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Broken bones that have not broken the skin
  • Minor cuts or rashes
  • Animal bites
  • High fevers
  • Pneumonia
  • Ear infections
  • Urinary infections

With private insurance, visiting an urgent care center will cost you more than seeing your regular doctor, but can save you hundreds of dollars (or more) over an ER visit. Make sure that the urgent care center you visit is in your plan’s network to avoid additional charges. 

We have a network of AltaMed and affiliated urgent care centers throughout Southern California. Find one near you now.

 

When to Go to the ER

Child with a broken leg in ER

The emergency room is for real medical emergencies—the staff and equipment are there to provide life-saving care for extreme cases. For severe medical situations, you can call 911 or visit an emergency room. Most hospital emergency rooms are open 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

The ER is the correct destination if you or a loved one is experiencing:

  • A severe injury or major trauma, including a severe cut or burn
  • Overdose
  • Stroke or heart attack
  • Loss of consciousness
  • A seizure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Dizziness and loss of coordination
  • A head injury
  • Broken bones that puncture the skin
  • Heavy bleeding

Depending on what kind of insurance you have, a trip to the ER can cost you thousands of dollars, so be sure to reserve these visits for real emergencies. However, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms or conditions above, do not hesitate! Go to the ER.

 

One Last Note About Medical Treatment Options

Doctor taking care of a man with an injured hand

Obviously, if you have a severe cut, are bleeding, or you are suffering a significant bodily injury, GET TO THE ER, STAT! But if you need help figuring out the right place to go for treatment, call AltaMed at 888-499-9303

Remember that your primary care doctor should always be your first call—they know you best and will ensure that your care is consistent. Leave urgent care and the ER for those times when you are experiencing more serious difficulties or emergencies.