Two weeks ago, my sister needed to get her routine blood exchange done in the midst of this pandemic. My mom was obviously not going to take any chances and so went with her to the hospital.
In the middle of her procedure, a slight complication developed that triggered a crisis with obvious concern from her doctor and nurses. It was to the point where hospitalization was being considered but my mom vehemently refused knowing too well that her immune system was already compromised putting her at high risk for contracting this virus. It was eventually decided that she be brought home to manage her pain with all her prescribed medication.
I tell this story because individuals with blood disorders like sickle cell are at an increased risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms. Following the general guidelines for keeping the immune system strong goes without saying but stocking up on essential medicines, practicing self isolation/social distancing and avoiding non essential travel are also important preventive measures to observe and adhere to. Therefore, what COVID-19 means for sickle cell patients first and foremost is that their caregivers must take extra precautions to avoid bringing the virus home.
There is also significant concern that the overlap of lung disease from COVID-19 with ACS or Acute Chest Syndrome may result in increased complications and amplification of healthcare utilization among individuals with SCD. Some suggested routine clinical care for sickle cell patients at this time include:
- all routine in-person appointments should be converted to virtual/telephonic ones where possible.
- make sure patients have a thermometer and know how to use it and keep it clean after each use.
- make sure patients have ample supply of all prescribed medication at home to manage both chronic and acute pain.
- counsel patients to adhere closely to the use of hydroxyurea and other chronic medication like L-glutamine, Voxelotor and Crizanlizumab.
For more patient care advise, please see below:
Please stay safe, stay home and self isolate!!
Always Love 💓