Greetings from the Entire Be Well Medical Center Staff:
We would like to update you with COVID-19 information. We know it has been some time since we have communicated with you by email, however we have been counseling our patients by phone and in person about this.
First, and probably most important, the first line of defense against COVID-19 is to get immunized. Simply stated, the vaccine is beneficial against mortality from COVID. I can not state this in any better way. It may not be 100% effective from contracting this disease, but it has been shown to profoundly reduce mortality and hospitalizations while being safe. With that said this decision is a personal one and should be discussed with a knowledgeable health care provider. We have personally heard too many tragic stories from patients and friends how their loved ones thought “it could never happen to me” or “I already had COVID-19” and did not get vaccinated and died from Covid-19. This could have been prevented. Even if you have recovered from COVID there is additional benefit from getting vaccinated due to the variants of the original virus. There is little sense in waiting for full approval which I believe to be eminent.
Get Vaccinated Now if You Have Not Already Done So!
We will not be able to vaccinate ourselves out of this pandemic. There are many variables, and one solution does not fit all situations. Facial coverings may have benefit. If you are unvaccinated then use of appropriate facial coverings when you are with other people becomes very important. If you are completely vaccinated, then you should still wear coverings if you are in a group of people of unknown COVID status. N-95 masks are best, but they need to be of proper fit and can be uncomfortable when worn correctly. They may not be necessary. Thin and flimsy cloths are not as likely to stop the spread. Use your best judgement in choosing material for facial covering and not simply choose a material to make a fashion statement.
Like we have been explaining for years about HIV, you have choices of how many risk reductions you are willing to take. Vaccinations, facial coverings, avoiding packed crowds, social distancing, hand washing, and booster vaccinations are just a few. Common sense should dictate what you do or do not do. It’s time to start living a reasonably “normal life” while being mindful. I don’t believe we will ever reach zero risk. Nothing in life is zero risk, including driving in an automobile, flying, crossing the street, or taking medication. With that said, you need to find your own balance to protect yourself AND those around you.
In the early 1980s, I was lecturing on HIV/AIDS and said, “We will always have pandemics that society will have to deal with and AIDS will not be the last” and neither will COVID. We live in a biological time bomb, and as science advances, we will evolve and make appropriate changes. Hopefully, there will be something learned from this tragedy to help manage the next one. AIDS is no longer a deadly disease, but a chronic and manageable one. Cure research for AIDS is happening now. Perhaps it will pave the way for COVID-19, too.
We will begin offering walk-in COVID boosters on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month beginning September 4, 2021 from the hours of 10 A.M. to 1 P.M. These will be available only to the patients that received their original immunizations at our office. Due to the logistics of not wasting open bottles of vaccine, which expire 6 hours after opening them, we cannot offer these boosters at any other times. There are many other facilities (like pharmacies) offering vaccinations and we encourage you to go to one of these centers if you like or find it more convenient. We do recommend a minimum of 6 months before getting boosters if you had experienced COVID or from your last vaccination for it. Also, if you received the J&J vaccine (the one injection vaccine), you do not require a booster at this time.
Our Covid-19 Booster Criteria:
P.S. It is a requirement that any person entering a health care facility wear a mask. Please bring your mask with you when you come to our office. Thank you.
To Your Good Health…We Remain
Update, Aug. 2021: We are no longer providing vaccinations. There are many accessible sites for vaccinations, including drugstores. Find a convenient spot: michigan.gov/coronavirus
We are pleased to announce that we have the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations. Currently we are offering the vaccinations only to our patients. We expect to open it up to others once most of our patients wanting a vaccination have received one.
You can request an appointment through our HEALOW patient portal and we will then contact you to schedule it. In order to serve you better, we would like to keep our phone call traffic low and prefer you use our patient portal to request this vaccination if you can. I believe we have put a system in place for you to schedule and receive your vaccination in an orderly, rapid, and convenient way. Our process has been working very well for the last two weeks.
The Johnson &Johnson vaccine is one dose. We are uncertain if we will continue to receive that vaccine or get a different one in the future. We are at the mercy of the State of Michigan and their availability. We will be receiving a weekly allotment of 100 vaccinations. The science has shown that all 3 current vaccines are effective.
Many patients are asking if they already had Covid-19 should they get vaccinated. The science is not clear as to when to get one if you had COVID. It is our personal recommendation, based on our experiences, that you should wait about 4 months after recovering from the natural infection before receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. This may reduce the chances of having a reaction to the vaccination.
Your questions about the vaccine and if you should receive one should be discussed with one of our providers. We are all experienced and trained to answer your questions to help you decide. We continue to offer same day telemedical visits if you believe you are infected with COVID and drive by rapid result Covid testing when appropriate. We are participating in two COVID-19 outpatient clinical trials. They are for those infected with mild to moderate symptoms not requiring hospitalization.
We took a short break from our weekly newsletters to you; however, we thought it’s time to provide you with some current valuable information on COVID-19 and our response to it.
Postponing your heath care is no longer recommended. We are doing whatever we can to keep you safe. Additionally, telemedical visits are still available when appropriate.
Over the past 30 years, many of our patients have participated in clinical trials at our clinic. We have maintained a separate research center, with an exceptional staff and a reputation of excellence. Dr. Benson is a certified research professional (CRP) from the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA). We are proud to announce that the Be Well Medical Center has been selected as one of one hundred sites (70 in the USA) for an international phase 3 Clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Remdesivir for COVID-19 in the outpatient setting.
Currently, Remdesivir has been approved by emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 infected patients inside the hospital when symptoms are moderate or severe. Specialists we refer to, familiar with using Remdesivir In hospitalized patients, report success when using this medication compared to COVID-19 care before it became available. Our study will evaluate approximately 1230 participants in the outpatient setting with milder symptoms not requiring hospitalization.
With earlier use of Remdesivir, we are hoping to prevent disease progression. This may reduce hospitalizations, improve survival, and result in less burden to healthcare systems. We are very excited about being included in this trial and to be at the cutting edge of COVID-19 care.
If you have recovered from COVID-19 and are interested in donating your plasma to potentially help others, please use the following link to learn more including local centers you can use. The link is https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/donate-covid-19-plasma
Here are 4 simple things you can do now to protect yourself now:
To Your Good Health We Remain
THE 23RD WORLD AIDS CONFERENCE IS HAPPENING NOW.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED YOU CAN BE PART OF IT BY CLICKING
THE LINK BELOW
The 23rd World AIDS Conference is happening now. If you are interested, you can be part of it by clicking here or www.aids2020.org
The first day of the conference was great. It was a little bit of a challenge attending it virtually instead of in person. The times are Pacific time so you need to add 3 hours when looking at the program. Enjoy and learn! — Dr. Benson
The Global Village and Youth Programme kicks off at the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020: Virtual)!
The Global Village is a diverse and vibrant space where communities from all over the world gather virtually to connect, share and learn from each other.
The Global Village and Youth Programme is free to access from 6 - 10 July. From the conference website you'll be able to access over 160 activities from live workshops to on-demand sessions, cultural performances, networking zones, NGO booths, and art exhibits.
The AIDS 2020: Virtual Global Village and Youth Programme features over 160 activities, including:
With a range of engaging, creative and informative events to look forward to, the programme at a glance provides a snapshot of Global Village and Youth Programme activities throughout AIDS 2020: Virtual.
Take a look at the schedule and start planning your experience today!
Youth Force Daily Broadcast
Youth Force Daily is a broadcast coming to you throughout the week of AIDS 2020: Virtual, featuring guests from around the world discussing issues related to young people and HIV.
Hosts will be talking with clinicians, researchers, HIV activists, youth organizations and youth involved in the field. Tune in each day to better understand the challenges faced and successes achieved by young people, youth organizations and local HIV responses!
Learn more about the San Francisco and Oakland Youth Force here.
The future of the HIV response
Join thousands of delegates from 175 countries from 6 – 10 July 2020, to be part of accelerating progress in the global HIV response.
Get involved at www.aids2020.org
Since 1980 Dr. Paul Benson and the Be Well Medical Center has been an inclusive medical center celebrating diversity for people to get quality personal care by a medical staff that gets to know you. We take tremendous pride in our history of creating a safe space for people of all backgrounds. Our non-discrimination policy (see picture above) has always been prominently displayed in our corridor. The care and attention we provide to populations of people who have traditionally been neglected by the healthcare industry is something that sets our practice apart from others.
Today is an uncertain and critical time for our country and all of its people. We strongly believe, being a medical center of inclusion that we should affirm that BLACK LIVES MATTER.
We will continue to provide you with high quality and compassionate primary care in whatever capacity we can, and we are proud to do so.
TO YOUR GOOD HEALTH...WE REMAIN
Use this weekend get some fresh air, move around, and safely enjoy yourselves. We are changing the content and amount of information in this week’s COVID-19 update. We are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel as more and more COVID-19 data is compiled. It’s a learning curve and we are beginning to open up our communities in a manner that maintains social distancing and wearing facial coverings. New therapies and vaccines are in the pharmaceutical pipeline. We have successfully flattened the curve. The question we are asked the most is, “Will there be a second COVID-19 wave in the Fall?”. No one knows for sure when or how severe a second wave may be , but we can tell you with confidence that as a society we’ve learned a lot, and will be better prepared in managing it.
We are providing healthcare both inside the office and by telemedicine as well keeping the office sanitized for everyone's protection. After hours of persuasion with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, we now have the Abbott ID Now test kits to get COVID-19 viral PCR results in a matter of minutes. We believe we are the only primary care office in the state with this capability. These tests are performed in our office. Our availability of these rapid tests is limited, so we will use this rapid test only when the situation demands it. Otherwise, we will order the COVID-19 test to Biotech Laboratory and get the results in one day. We now have a COVID-19 antibody test that that we are satisfied with regards to accuracy. We also get these results in one day. Both of these tests, the PCR and Antibody tests, are readily available to us through Biotech. If you want either of these tests, you will need to schedule an in office or tele-medical visit with us. We will evaluate this with you, and order it, when appropriate. Then, you can go to the lab in our building to get the desired test taken.
The exciting news this week is that Baxter, our official canine Be Well Medical Center greeter and Mascot, turns 11 years old Friday, May 22, 2020. He has been a valuable and dedicated employee since 2009. For the last 10 years I have posted his birthday picture on Facebook, and he has received many posts from patients. Last year, honoring his 10th birthday, I donated $2.00 for every Baxter Birthday shout out to his picture post to the Detroit Dog Rescue Society. I’m doing it again this year. Simply reply to his picture post between now and Sunday and I will donate $2.00 for each post. It’s also a good time to like our Be Well Medical Center on Facebook. This is another way to receive valuable health tips from us.
Thank you and…
To Your Good Health…We Remain
We would like to thank everyone for letting us know how much you have enjoyed our weekly COVID-19 updates. It was never our original intention to do these weekly, however after all the appreciated feedback, we will continue providing them.
We continue to function well inside the Be Well Medical Center as we settle into our new normal. How long this will last is anyone’s guess. We have staggered our scheduling of patients and there is seldom the chance that you will share the reception room waiting to enter an exam room.
Telemedicine has reduced the need for every visit to take place inside our office, and this has helped us maintain separation and distancing. Everyone, wherever you are, needs to use common sense. Wear facial coverings and keep about six-feet distance from others. We will get through this. It’s interesting that in many countries they have used facial protection for years, and don’t give any second thought to this. Our culture may evolve to this as being normal as well.
This week, we would like to refer you to a quality newsletter that Medical Diagnostic Laboratories (MDL) sent to our office. They are the reference lab we use for certain laboratory testing, including COVID-19 nasal swabs. Their COVID-19 newsletter is one of the best we have come across. It’s very complete, well written, understandable, and covers many different aspects about COVID-19 in an apolitical manner. If you are interested here is the link:
In next week’s newsletter we will discuss and provide you with information on donating your plasma if you have had COVID-19. This may be useful to those that currently have COVID-19 and those who have recovered from it wanting to help others.
In the meantime, continue your Patience, Compassion, Gentility, Kindness, and Smiles!
To Your Good Health… We Remain
We hope everyone is doing as well as can be during these unusual times. We are okay inside the Be Well Medical Center. We are seeing patients at the office and by telemedical visits every day. We have still suspended evening clinics through the month of May. Some patients have stated that they don’t want to call and bother us, since we are so busy. That is not necessary, and I want you to know that we are here and available to you. Please wear a facial covering if you come to the office. We will take your temperature and complete a respiratory questionnaire before allowing you entrance into the building.
Tensions around the world appears to be on the rise. We need more gentility, kindness, compassion, and smiles right now. We are making significant progress in the fight against COVID-19. Remdesivir, an intravenous medication developed by Gilead, has just been authorized by the FDA to treat severe COVID-19. It has been shown to reduce the number of days of hospitalization. This is very significant!
The new COVID-19 antibody test by Roche is now approved. It is 99.8% accurate, and the one I have been waiting for. Now, we can discuss antibody testing knowing we have a good test to use. Antibody testing is not for everyone, but it can give useful information. Antibody testing will become more and more useful in the near future.
COVID-19 is a virus that causes inflammation, generally, but not limited to the respiratory system. Inflammation is bad and is the cause of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 as well as other diseases. We need to do what we can to reduce inflammation inside our body for maintaining the best health possible. Good medical treatment and control of all seemingly unrelated medical ailments are important in reducing inflammation. We don’t want the COVID-19 virus to be “the straw that brakes the camel’s back” when it comes to inflammation in your body. If you are prescribed medications to treat hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, or anything else, make sure you take them as instructed to keep your body’s inflammation in check.
Other things I can suggest to help reduce inflammation are the following:
Although not specifically approved or indicated for COVID-19 protection, I recommend Vitamin D at over the counter strength. Some studies have shown that low Vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients is associated with a higher mortality. Also, Vitamin C is an antioxidant and can reduce inflammation. Turmeric has been reported to reduce inflammation as well. Like anything else, the more layers of protection you take to reduce inflammation, the better off you may be.
I’ve recently heard that people who have recovered from COVID-19 may be at a higher risk for getting blood clots. This is not age or time specific. The use of low dose aspirin can be discussed as a measure to prevent this. This is an off-label recommendation.
Please be creative and safe in celebrating this year’s Mother’s Day!
To Your Good Health…We Remain
I believe we may have turned the corner regarding COVID-19 and life should hopefully be beginning to get better. Spring is in the air and it’s starting to blossom outside. We recommend you take the opportunity to safely spend some time outdoors. Take some deep breaths and increase your physical activity. These simple activities can clear your mind and energize your body.
We have seen so many patients come into the office with symptoms of “cabin-fever.” The isolating COVID measures that were put into place for our well-being, had many unintended, but expected consequences. Patients are coming in with many stress related disorders, including chest discomfort and shortness of breath. However, simply by coming in — getting evaluated, perhaps getting an EKG or chest x-ray, and talking with us — gave them reassurance and made them feel better. For many, that was all they needed.
Intervention with telephone calls and video tele-visits let us practice the “art of medicine” remotely. We remain open during this pandemic and request you bring your own facial covering when coming to the office. We are still doing “drive-by” COVID-19 screening and taking temperatures and symptom checks at the front door before allowing you entrance inside our building. These actions protect our patients and staff.
COVID-19 has been very personal for us too. Caleb Youngblood, PA-C, AAHIVS, was infected, as well as four other Be Well staff members. Everyone has fully recovered and are back to work. Caleb has taken a particular interest in COVID-19. He keeps us updated all the time and has become our “local expert.” He is antibody positive — we will explain what that means later on. He contributed substantially to this update. Also, he is working from home doing telemedical visits, until he fully recovered. We all appreciate Caleb so much. All of our staff are heroes!
There has been much discussion surrounding testing for SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus we commonly refer to as COVID-19. We want to make sure that the different types of testing are clear to you.
Using a combination of testing mentioned above we can get a good sense of whether or not people ARE infected with COVID-19, RECENTLY infected, or if they have NEVER had it. The combination of these tests is useful. They help us take the necessary steps to help “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 and to eventually return to some resemblance of “normalcy”. It is important to understand that any one test can not tell the entire story. Antibody tests have been on the news lately. Antibody tests can not predict, nor were they designed to, identify whether or not a person is contagious to others.
The swab test looking for the virus itself was the first test that came into existence. It is pretty much standardized and accurate. The antibody tests are currently coming to market with emergency authorization from the FDA for use. It has been reported that these tests may not be as accurate as we would like them to be at the present time. They will get better in time. Medicine is not an exact science. Scientific truths constantly change with new information. Determining what test(s) to perform needs to be individually considered. Antibody tests, at this time, may be more reasonable for research or epidemiology studies of a population's rate of COVID-19 infection.
Every situation is different and we are here to determine what the best choice is for you when it comes to ordering tests. It has yet to be determined if you are antibody IgG positive, how long or how effective that immunity would be. Immunity from other COVID type infections is usually about 4-5 months. Some antibodies last a lifetime. Until there is a vaccination or data demonstrating lifetime immunity having the IgG antibodies, whether you are antibody positive or not, you need to practice universal precautions as discussed in our last update to protect yourself.
There have been some new symptoms added to the original list of fever, cough, and shortness of breath for COVID-19 to be on watch for. We’ve often seen these new associated symptoms in our patients. They include: loss of taste and/or smell, body aches, headaches, fatigue, shaking, chills, and blue fingers or toes.
Take care of yourselves and those around you. If you have any questions or concerns, please ask us. Also…reach out to your friends and family. Let them know how you are doing and ask the same of them.
To Your Good Health… We Remain
Another week goes by, as we seem to settle into this COVID-19 pandemic. Like 9/11 things may never be the same once this has passed. Who would have ever thought you would have to take off your shoes and be scanned before boarding an aircraft before 2001? Or carry on a bottle of water? We will get through COVID-19, but it will be a little different when we reach the other side and find the new normal. Perhaps we will make lemonade from lemons and be better off for the next time.
“AIDS will be resolved one day, I’m confident of this, but society will always face epidemics to replace it.”
We have always had epidemics. Whether it be Tuberculosis, Syphilis, SARS, Leprosy, Cholera, and the list goes on. What we don’t know is what group or groups will be affected next. With AIDS/HIV in the 1980s, it was the LGBTQ community. COVID-19 may have more serious consequences for the African American population. It’s a moving target!
Staying home this weekend, I had some time on my hands. I came across some old files hidden away. I found some slides I made from the 1980’s. Back then, I made my own slides using my 35mm camera. I would take pictures of the information that I typed on a piece of paper and then took the film to the drug store to get it processed into slides. Wow, how things have changed! I came across a slide I made years ago titled “Mathematics of Disease”. I do believe this equation is timeless, and certainly holds true today. Let me explain the picture above detailing this equation:
Health (or lack of)
Susceptibility (the numerator) --
The likelihood or liability to be influenced or harmed by a particular thing.
Susceptibility increases when people don’t take care of themselves: medical problems not optimally controlled, no exercise, eating poorly, smoking, poor sleep, lack of barriers or increased exposure to pathogens, stress, and so on. Each factor synergistically increases susceptibility to disease.
The ability to not be affected by something, especially adversely.
Resistance is increased with vaccinations, exercise, eating nutritiously, positive mental attitude, getting enough sleep, and general measures to stay healthy. Resistance is reduced with a compromised immune system, co-infections, malignancies, poor health, general inflammation, sleep deprivation, and stress.
Environmental Factors =
Any factor (living or non-living) that influences living organisms.
Prevalence of a germ (COVID-19) in the population is certainly the first environmental factor that comes to mind. Other factors include overcrowding, the air we breathe, aging, water pollution, cleanliness, co-existing diseases, and environmental stress to name a few.
It’s not one particular item in this equation that defines health or lack of it, but many. You should do what you can do for each part of the equation to assist yourself in staying well. Wear facial coverings. Keep your distance when around others. Wash your hands often. Stay active. Do some deep breathing. Eat better. Reduce your stress loads in ways you can. Each and every positive action you take to increase your resistance will shift the equation in your favor. Each and every action you take to decrease your susceptibility will help keep you healthy. COVID-19 testing is great; however, you can test negative on a Monday and turn positive on Tuesday. This test is useful for diagnosing current COVID-19, but not useful in predicting future infections.
When the antibody is approved, after demonstrating the right specificity and sensitivity of the test, that may be useful to reduce susceptibility and environmental factors by knowing who is immune and who isn’t. There is no one test or action a person can take to totally eliminate risk. This is true for everything we do from taking a walk to sky diving. It’s a balancing act with decisions made by each individual, hopefully with a good data base for guidance, in making the best decision for yourself.
We used to call it “Universal Precautions.” That’s what the medical professional would do by treating every person the same way regardless of knowing if they had a communicable disease or not. The provider would protect themselves as if everyone they came in contact with was infectious. The practice of universal precautions still applies. That’s what risk reduction is about. Whether it be HIV, STD’s, colds, coughs, staph infections, or anything else, appropriate preventive protections should be put in place all the time. It’s your responsibility to be knowledgeable. The mathematics of disease will change as information evolves and this is occurring at a rapid pace. What we think is true today may not be true tomorrow. Vaccines will maximize resistance. Hopefully an effective one for the COVID-19 virus will be available as soon as possible. Vaccines reduce susceptibility and environmental factors by increasing resistance. None of these measures, by itself, will be the solution; however, a combination of them most likely will.
As for the Be Well Medical Center, I’m proud to work with a group of medical heroes. We come to work everyday with kindness, gentility, patience, compassion, and smiles. My staff puts themselves at risk everyday and are helping the lives of our patients. Evening clinics are still suspended although we are extending back our daytime clinic hours to 5 P.M. beginning Monday, April 27. Patients are being screened at the front door for COVID-19 symptoms and temperature. We appreciate everyone arriving with their own facial covers. We wish you well, and are here for you during these difficult times!
To Your Good Health…We Remain!
Dr. Paul Benson
Medical Director of Be Well Medical Center
M-Thurs: 7:30 am - 8:30 pm
Fridays: 8 am - 5 pm
Select Saturdays: 8 am - 12 noon