Why having a primary care physician could save your life if you get COVID-19

The critical need for primary care physicians

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Doctors are urging the community to start a relationship with a primary care physician as soon as possible, as it’s a recommendation that could save your life if you’re infected with COVID-19.

Early detection and treatment are proving to keep you from getting very sick, but you need a primary care physician to get the treatments.

Monoclonal antibody infusion is proving to keep hundreds of people infected with COVID-19 from being hospitalized, according to infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Saag with UAB. But to get the treatment, your primary care physician (PCP) must sign you up. However, if you don’t already have an established relationship with a doctor, it could take weeks to get an appointment which could make you ineligible for some early treatment options.

Deputy state health officer Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health says a PCP is your personal advocate.

“A PCP... knows your health history... understands your specific needs and [is] able to address those needs in a personalized manner,” Landers explains.

Put simply: A PCP will fight for your best medical interest.

Unfortunately, those most impacted by COVID-19 who would benefit immensely from early care usually do not have a doctor they see regularly, according to Landers.

“I have tended to have a larger group of African-American persons or Hispanic persons who don’t have a primary care physician,” Landers says.

Whether due to socioeconomic barriers or mistrust, people of color without this important connection are more likely to fall through the cracks until it’s too late.

“It’s critically important for persons to already have this - their own primary care identified or be enrolling in primary,” Landers advises.

The good news: according to JAMA International Medicine, more Americans are establishing this very important relationship.

If you need a PCP, you can check out local hospital websites, urgent care facilities, private offices, or public health services.

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