After spending much of last summer in lockdown and trying to avoid 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 maybe take that long-awaited vacation.
This summer, though – as if keeping up with current TSA requirements and CDC guidelines isn’t challenging enough – people are learning that COVID prevention policies and their enforcement may differ from country to country, state to state and even business to business.
Making sure you have the proper medical documentation for your kid’s summer camp or your trip to Europe will require extra planning and preparation this year, according to Katie Acquino, D.O., medical director for Baptist Health Urgent Care Express in Palm Beach County.
“Schools and camps require physical exams prior to admission, and may enforce masking and other COVID prevention practices,” Dr. Acquino notes. For children in grades K-12, she says, Baptist Health Urgent Care Express is offering sports, camp and school physical exams for just $25.
COVID-19 and travel: Know before you go
One advantage of going to Baptist Health Urgent Care Express for physical exams is the health system has extensive resources, Dr. Acquino says. “If we see something during the physical that needs additional care or evaluation, we can quickly provide easy access to Baptist Health’s wide network of specialists and services.”
“We know there are a hundred things you need to do for your kids this summer, and that sometimes it can be hard to get an appointment with your pediatrician,” Dr. Acquino says. “We can see you the same day without an appointment – usually with minimal wait times.” A physical exam covers all the basics, she says, including vital signs, height, weight and vision, and a complete exam usually takes about 30 minutes.
For travelers who need to provide a recent COVID-19 test prior to traveling, tests are 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 traveler’s needs,” she says.
There is still much we don’t know about this virus, Dr. Acquino adds, so people should continue to make good decisions about where they’re going and who they’ll be with. And if you’re planning on traveling out of the country, she suggests you make sure you understand vaccination and quarantine requirements before buying your tickets.
“My number one recommendation for travelers is to get vaccinated – especially if you’re going to be on an airplane or a cruise ship or any place where you’ll be in an 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 retailers is available at vaccines.gov. Dr. Acquino also reminds people to stay on top of CDC guidelines and to continue practicing good hand hygiene.
Summer brings an increase in injuries
Beyond the challenges that COVID-19 poses this summer, Dr. Acquino notes that an increase in summer travel and outdoor activities typically brings a higher risk for falls and injuries – and another reason to see a doctor.
“In the summer, we definitely see an uptick in patients seeking treatment for lacerations, broken bones, sprains and sunburn,” Dr. Acquino says. “A lot of people are also up on ladders cleaning, painting or doing repairs this time of year, so we tend to see an increase in falls.”
Many minor injuries can be treated at Baptist Health Urgent Care Express, notes Dr. Acquino. “We treat non-life threating injuries and illnesses, such as sprains, strains, coughs, colds, minor cuts and burns,” she says. “If you’re experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe abdominal pain or anything that could possibly be life-threating, you need to call 911 and go directly to the emergency room.”
Be safe in the sun
Dr. Acquino also reminds patients to be extra careful in the sun. “It’s easy to get caught up in your activities, especially when you’re outdoors having fun,” she says. “But if you’re going to be outside for any length of time, make sure you use sunscreen.”
And, Dr. Acquino recommends, remember to stay hydrated – especially when it’s hot. High heat and humidity interfere with the body’s natural cooling mechanisms, she says, which can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and even death.
“Heat stroke occurs when your core body temperature reaches 104 degrees or higher,” says Dr. Acquino. “At that point, you can suffer permanent damage to your brain and other vital organs.” Wearing light, loose-fitting clothes, drinking plenty of fluids and not over-exerting – 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 all about being prepared,” Dr. Acquino says. “Yes, accidents happen, and we’re here for you if you need us.” But, she adds, by being prepared and taking common-sense precautions, you can help keep Urgent Care or the ER off of your travel itinerary this summer.