Letter to the editor: A request for help to the community

On behalf of MidMichigan Health, we are reaching out to our community with a request for your help.

Unfortunately, the pandemic is not yet behind us and flu season has arrived. What’s more, we are experiencing high demand and long waits in our Emergency Departments and Urgent Cares throughout our region. One of several root causes is confusion in our communities about when and where to go for COVID testing or treatment. To address this confusion, we have a new infographic to help patients navigate their options. 

We are encouraging workplaces, school officials, health departments and other community leaders to use this infographic as a guide and to provide clear instructions when directing constituents to get COVID testing for work, school or travel.

Here are some key takeaways from the infographic:
  • Prior to testing, patients will need to know whether their workplace, school or travel destination requires a more accurate PCR test that takes 24-48 hours to process or whether a rapid self-administered antigen test is sufficient proof of COVID negative status.
  • MidMichigan Health does not provide any walk-in COVID testing. All testing requires an appointment and will typically be the more accurate PCR tests.
  • MidMichigan Health does not offer rapid antigen tests except in special cases; however, these tests are available at local drugstores.
  • If patients are having COVID-like symptoms, they will need to be evaluated by a provider before testing, so we can rule out similar conditions and order the right tests.
  • Symptomatic patients should not come to a MidMichigan Health facility without calling ahead, so that we can safely treat them and prevent spread to others.
Stopping a pandemic requires all the tools available and the COVID-19 vaccine remains our best change at doing that. We’ve had a number of exciting developments, including the recent news that children ages 5 to 11 could start getting vaccinated as early November. We strongly encourage everyone to consider receiving the vaccine if you haven’t already done so. CDC data shows that unvaccinated individuals are many times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. For those who are vaccinated, here are key takeaways on booster and third dose options that have recently become available.
  • A third dose of Pfizer or Moderna can help protect those with compromised immune systems who did not have a strong enough response to the first two doses.
  • A third dose can be administered 28 days after the first two shots.
  • We recommend the third dose for those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.
  • A COVID booster is an additional dose of the vaccine given after the protection provided by the original two doses begins to decrease over time.
  • A COVID booster is recommended for people 65 and older, those with underlying health conditions, people living in long-term care facilities, and those in high-risk professions.
The vaccine, along with covering your mouth and nose with a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, and washing your hands, all help to reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. As your health care provider, we’re happy to answer your questions. You can reach us on Facebook Messenger at facebook.com/midmichigan or call our COVID hotline at (800) 445-7356. You can also visit our website at midmichigan.org/covid19.

On behalf of all of us at MidMichigan Health, stay healthy and be well.

Lydia Watson, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Senior Vice President
MidMichigan Health

Paul Berg, M.D.
MidMichigan Physicians Group
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