After spending most of last summer in quarantine and trying to avoid the spread of COVID-19, many families are hoping for a return to “normal” this year. They’re planning to send the kids to camp, attend a family reunion, enjoy a weekend getaway, or perhaps take that long-awaited vacation.
This summer, however, as if keeping up with current TSA requirements and CDC guidelines weren’t challenging enough, people are learning that COVID prevention guidelines and enforcement can vary from country to country. country, state to state, and even business to business.
Ensuring you have the proper medical documentation for your child’s summer camp or trip to Europe will require additional planning and preparation this year, according to Katie Acquino, DO, director of Baptist Health Urgent Care Express in Palm Beach County.
“Schools and summer camps require physicals prior to admission, and may mandate the use of face masks and other COVID prevention practices,” notes Dr. Acquino. For children in Kindergarten through 12th grade, she says, Baptist Health Urgent Care Express is offering sports, camp and school physicals for just $25.
“We know there are a hundred different things you have to do for your kids this summer, and sometimes it’s hard to get an appointment with your pediatrician,” says Dr. Acquino. “We can see them the same day without an appointment, and usually with minimal wait times.” A physical exam covers all the basics, she says, including vital signs, weight, height and vision, and the entire exam usually takes about 30 minutes.
One advantage of going to Baptist Health Urgent Care Express for physicals is that the health system has extensive resources, says Dr. Acquino. “If we see something during the physical exam that requires further attention or evaluation, we can offer easy access to Baptist Health’s extensive network of specialists and services.”
COVID-19 and travel: Know before you go
For travelers who are required to provide a recent COVID-19 test prior to travel, testing is available at all Baptist Health Urgent Care and Urgent Care Express locations, according to Dr. Acquino. “We offer both rapid antigen tests and PCR tests, based on the needs of travelers,” she says.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about this virus, adds Dr. Acquino, so people need to continue to make good decisions about where they’re going to go and who they’re going to be with. And if you plan to travel outside the country, she suggests you make sure you understand the vaccination and quarantine requirements. before to buy your tickets.
“My number one recommendation for travelers is to get vaccinated, especially if you’re going to be on a plane or a ship or if you’re going to be in any other enclosed space with a lot of other people,” says Dr. Acquino.
While COVID-19 vaccines are no longer administered at Baptist Health, Dr. Acquino says they are readily available at Publix, CVS, Walgreens and other locations throughout South Florida. A current list of participating pharmacies and stores is available at vaccines.gov. Dr. Acquino also reminds people to stay up to date on CDC guidelines and to continue to practice good hand hygiene.
Summer brings with it an increase in injuries
Beyond the challenges that COVID-19 brings this summer, Dr. Acquino points out that an increase in summer travel and outdoor activities also typically brings a higher risk for falls and injuries – and another reason to see a doctor.
“During the summer, we definitely see an increase in patients seeking treatment for lacerations, broken bones, sprains and sunburns,” says Dr. Acquino. “Many people also take ladders to clean, paint or do home repairs during this time of year, so we tend to see an increase in falls.”
Many minor injuries are treated at Baptist Health Urgent Care Express, says Dr. Acquino. “We treat injuries and illnesses that are not life-threatening, such as sprains, strains, coughs, colds, cuts and minor burns,” she says. If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, severe abdominal pain, or anything else that could be life-threatening, you should call 911 and go directly to an emergency room.”
Take care in the sun
Dr. Acquino also reminds patients to be very careful in the sun. It’s easy to get caught up in activities, especially when you’re having fun outdoors,” she says. “However, if you are going to be outside for any amount of time, make sure you use a sunscreen.”
Additionally, Dr. Acquino recommends staying hydrated, especially in hot weather. High temperatures and humidity interfere with the body’s natural cooling mechanisms, she says, which can cause heat cramps, heat stroke and even death.
“Heat stroke occurs when the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees or higher,” says Dr. Acquino. “After a certain point, you can have permanent damage to your brain and other vital organs.” Wearing light, loose clothing, drinking plenty of fluids and not overexerting yourself, particularly during the hottest part of the day, can help prevent heat stroke, she says.
“Staying healthy and safe during the summer, or any time of year, is about being prepared,” says Dr. Acquino. “Yes, it is true that accidents happen, and we are here when they need us.” However, she says being prepared and taking sensible precautions can help keep urgent care centers and emergency rooms off your travel itinerary this summer.