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Healthwise Maui

Q: I have diabetes. What do I need to know about COVID-19?

Jolly Anne L. Uclaray, master’s in nursing, registered nurse, certified diabetes care and education specialist , diabetes coordinator, Maui Memorial Medical Center: People with diabetes with its associated comorbidities are more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. Recent studies showed that people with less controlled diabetes and obesity are three to four times at risk of hospitalization and can experience severe outcomes, including death, than those with well-managed diabetes. A recent study in the United Kingdom also showed that people with type 1 diabetes might be at even higher risk for poorer outcomes (due to longer-term vascular damage) than people with type 2 diabetes.

The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to avoid getting it! Reduce your risk of being exposed by avoiding gatherings and staying home as much as possible, staying at least 6 feet away from other people, wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose when around others, disinfecting “high-touch” surfaces and objects in your home regularly, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.

Manage your diabetes by keeping your blood sugars at your target level, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, being physically active, and taking medication to manage any other health conditions, like hypertension or heart disease. Make sure you keep up with any medical appointments and schedule virtual appointments when you can.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, contact your physician immediately. Remember that most people have a mild illness, even in higher-risk groups. You can recover at home if your symptoms are not severe, and you’re able to remain physically distant from your other household members. Treat your symptoms and closely monitor your blood sugar levels.

If your symptoms worsen or you’re not able to keep your glucose levels under control, call your doctor and follow their instructions.

Q: Is there a plan to move COVID-19-positive patients to Kula Hospital?

Kerry Pitcher, Maui Health senior director long term care critical access, Lanai Community Hospital and Kula Hospital: We are absolutely not planning to move any COVID-19-positive patients to Kula Hospital, and as of right now, there have been no COVID-19 cases at the facility.

We’re not sure how this rumor got started, but it’s a good example of how misinformation can spread on social media and cause real fear and harm. We urge everyone to fact-check what they read online and reach out to us directly with any questions. You can contact us at mauihealth.org/contact or at our anonymous CARE hotline, 242-CARE (2273).

Kula Hospital is a critical access hospital serving Maui’s Upcountry community. In addition to providing quality care to residents needing long-term care, the hospital’s Emergency Room provides urgent care services like wound care, X-rays, splints and casts.

Kula Hospital is taking every precaution possible to protect our high-risk long-term-care patients, including not allowing visitors while the COVID-19 threat continues. In the ER, only the patient is allowed to enter the facility (pediatric patients may be accompanied by a caregiver).

For more information on COVID-19 safety protocols, visit mauihealth.org/safe.

* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealth.org/healthwise.

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