Question:   I try to stay at home as much as possible, but I still worry. How should I prepare in case I do get sick?

It is always a good idea to be prepared because we never know when a medical emergency may occur, even unrelated to COVID-19.  Preparing ahead of time will reduce your stress during the event and ensure you have what you need.

I recommend starting by organizing your emergency information and keeping it together in a prominent place in your home, perhaps on your refrigerator. If you have a “File of Life,” this is a handy magnet that includes the forms that you need to complete. Even if you do not have a “File of Life” you can create your own. What this includes in your current medication list, your emergency contacts, health insurance information, pertinent medical history, all known allergies and any advanced healthcare directives or POSLT forms, if you have them. If you need more information advanced healthcare directives or POLST forms, you can visit the Ventura County Coalition for Compassionate Care website at

If the paramedics are called to your home, they will look for these items so keep them clearly labeled in an obvious location near your door or on your refrigerator. Be sure to update these forms any time there are changes, especially medication changes. The treating doctor will need to know your current medical conditions and any medication you may be on, as well as any allergies you may have. By ensuring this information is readily available you will get the quickest and safest treatment possible.

The website offers all the latest information on the current COVID-19 statistics in the county, the public health orders, and testing locations. If you feel you have symptoms of COVID-19 including cough, shortness of breath, fever over 100.4, new loss of taste or smell, headache and/or sore throat, start by calling your primary care physician. Your primary doctor will be able to assess you over the phone and direct you to a testing site. There is also new expanded testing available through urgent care centers Ventura County. You can be pre-screened and make an appointment at 805-652-7660. Anyone can get tested now, even without a doctor’s orders.

Many people with symptoms can stay at home and recover safely under the guidance of your physician. However, if you find you need to go to the hospital be prepared and bring with you all your emergency information, as well as your phone, phone charger, important phone numbers and anything you will need. The hospitals have restricted their visitor policies so understand you probably cannot have anyone go inside with you.

Senior Concerns is offering an online Zoom seminar called “What Older Adults Need to Know About COVID-19” on Thursday June 11th at 4pm. This seminar will include a presentation by Dr. Carlo Reyes, Assistant Medical Director at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center and an Emergency Room physician. He will provide updates on the current state of COVID-19 in Ventura County, the recommended clinical approaches and what we can all do to stay as safe as possible. You will have the opportunity to ask him questions over Zoom as well. If you would like to attend, please email me at and I will send you the link. If you do not have a computer there will be a call-in number so you can listen over the phone to the presentation. This will provide valuable information from a local expert.

I encourage everyone to be prepared, not just now, but always. If we have thought through what we will do in an emergency, then we are more likely to follow that plan in a calm manner.  Hopefully knowing the plan is in place will ease some of the anxiety that we are all feeling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Martha Shapiro can reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at

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