S.B. Family Survives COVID-19 Infection
By Dianne Anderson
LaCretia Vallier has some COVID-19 advice for Black people – that even if their hospitals and doctors turn them away from a test, be persistent and keep trying.
Their family and other lives are depending on it.
If only medical staff had been able to identify COVID-19 symptoms early on, she may not have infected her mother and her daughter. She Googled and reached out to her closest hospital online, but was told her symptoms were not coronavirus.
“I’m calling the hospital, the nurses asked are you having fever? I said no. They said don’t worry about it. You don’t have coronavirus,” said Vallier, 36, a San Bernardino resident. “I said Okay. I went back to work.”
That week, her daughter’s fever reached 103. Again, Vallier went to her doctor, and was sent home. She was told to drink hot fluid, do lung exercises, but they wouldn’t test her because she wasn’t exhibiting symptoms.
Vallier, a supervisor with a local company, said many of her employees were off-schedule, so she attributed her back pain from doing a little more work than usual. The next day, March 18, she started getting an unbearable migraine. Only recently, three weeks later, she began chills and shortness of breath.
“That’s when I said mamma, we have it. I couldn’t breathe,” she said.
She also recognized some symptoms in her mother. Vallier said it was only after she told her doctor that her mother tested positive, that they considered giving her the test. They still made her go through pains to get it.
“This was my doctor that brought me through the ringer to get tested. My temp was 100,” she said. “It’s hard for people to get tested.”
Nearly a month went by and even after testing, she hasn’t experienced typical symptoms until recently. She is not sure where or how she got the infection.
Her mother, Suzette Jones, 58, had symptoms that were entirely different.
She had already had her flu shot late last year so when she got sick and experienced chills, it felt like a common cold or maybe stomach flu. She was fatigued, vomiting with diarrhea. She did everything her family does back in Louisiana.
She made a tea toddy with ginger, honey and cayenne pepper, a homemade soup and stayed in bed.
“It was horrible. When my doctor told me I had it, I was so emotional because I didn’t think it would happen to me,” she said.
Jones said her healing came through prayer, and having always taken good care of her body. Her symptoms started March 20 and lasted until last Friday. She said a lot of people right now are scared or in denial, but she thanks her daughter for pushing her to go to her doctor.
Because she is in good general health, she said the doctors gave her a course of Tamiflu. She went to Inland Behavioral Health Center in San Bernardino.
“They treated me with love and gave me medicine, and they called to check on me,” she said. “They take time with you, they don’t turn you away.”
Last week, after her regular morning Bible study, Ms. Jones came across gospel singer BeBe Winans’ story about how he had gone through a similar situation. However, Jones didn’t get the pneumonia.
“It was so sad. With this virus, people need to know it’s real and stop taking it for a joke,” she said. “Use common sense and be wise.”
In some regions, like Milwaukee County, race data is starting to trickle down. According to a recent ProPublica report, African Americans In that region comprise just 26 percent of the population, but represent about half of the 945 coronavirus cases and 81% of the 27 deaths reported as of last week. Nearly the same critical impact is being reported in Chicago.
Any number of gaps in health systems are attributed to the death rate. African Americans are, as numerous past studies show, more likely to have unequal access to healthcare, or are not taken as seriously by physicians when the seek help. They live in city areas where they may be more susceptible to pollution related problems like asthma.
As of press time, no race-based numbers from San Bernardino County are available on the county website.
Dr. Victor Waters, Chief Medical Officer at St. Bernardine Medical Center, said that when a patient exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms arrives at a Dignity Health facility in the Inland Empire, their staff conducts an immediate evaluation. That process includes masking the patient determined to be “Persons Under Investigation,” and placing them in droplet isolation for further assessment and testing.
Physicians immediately notify infection prevention staff and local public health officials to consult on COVID-19 testing. Because those symptoms could also be symptomatic of other illnesses, he said PUI categorization is important to ensure isolation protocols are observed until a test result is received.
In an email, Waters said they assess every patient to determine whether it is better for them to be admitted to the hospital or safely discharged home.
“The Emergency Medical Team, including physicians and nurses are keenly aware of risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and lung disease in the Black and Brown community that places them at higher risk for pulmonary complications and potential death from the covid-19 virus,” Waters said.
For Inland Behavioral Health 665 North ‘D’ Street San Bernardino, CA 92401 (909) 708-8158
For testing or consultation for IEHP members, contact Sachs health
Anyone experiencing symptoms of coronavirus can access Virtual urgent care visits at www.dignityhealth.org/virtualcareanywhere http://www.dignityhealth.org/virtualcareanywhere or call 855-356-805