BOISE — You might be adjusting to a new way of living if you’re increasing your precautions for COVID-19, by wearing gloves or face masks, washing your hands frequently, even standing 6 feet apart from others. That's been the reality of every day for certain people with serious illnesses, like cystic fibrosis, since before this novel coronavirus pandemic.
Hoarding medical supplies, like gloves and masks, lead to more severe problems for people with serious illnesses like cystic fibrosis.
“We actually haven’t been able to buy a mask for Maddie, and the hospital staff was having to use a child mask when they come into her isolation room, so it has been a little bit of a problem," said mother of two children living with cystic fibrosis, Martha Modawell,
"We can't order our masks online because they’re all sold out."
Even hospitals and clinics are running low.
“Those resources are really necessary with those coming in the clinic with chronic disease such as cystic fibrosis," said pediatrician and cystic fibrosis specialist Dr. Perry Brown.
People living with CF have a fully intact immune system, meaning they’re not immune-compromised, which is a significant risk factor for coronavirus. However, their lungs have a harder time responding to disease, which creates significant problems if they get sick.
“Are CF patients more susceptible to COVID-19? The answer is no, but the issue is if they were to get sick with coronavirus, COVID-19, they’re at higher risk at having more severe disease, they may be at higher risk of death as a result," said Brown.
The mild symptoms of flu or colds, like coughing and nasal drip, can quickly get out of hand.
“A sinus infection for her could lead to a 2-week hospital stay and reverse isolation," said Modawell.
Not to forget the intense stress on our healthcare systems COVID-19 is creating, which the Modawells have to keep in mind, living in a state already short on physicians.
“It's important to have those doctors ready and have me," said Sierra.
Also, those empty grocery shelves create a big mess, too. People with cystic fibrosis need a specialized diet, primarily with high sodium and fat.
“There has been some increased food insecurity for sure in our cf clinic over recent weeks, and I think some of it may be grocery store shelves being more empty, I think a lot of it is financial insecurity of what may be coming, people unable to come into work for a long period of time," said Brown.
Dr. Brown says to him it feels like the “calm before the storm” because patients are staying out of the clinic. However, this can be a potentially harmful thing for people living with cystic fibrosis if they’re not getting their routine checkups.