Life and Coronaviruses

By Jean Cibula, MD, FAES

Well, this isn’t quite the item that I had planned to write.  My original intention was to talk about diets for the New Year. Obviously, I procrastinated. Maybe next time.

I’m sure everyone is following the news about COVID- 19. We at the University of Florida Department of Neurology hope that you and your family are staying safe and sheltering at home wherever possible in order to stay healthy. Many of my patients are at high risk should they contract COVID 19, so I urge everyone who is reading this to pay attention and abide by the guidelines. This is serious.

Much has already been written about transmission. Routes of transmission are very similar to the cold and the flu, although this is a much more severe illness. What we call “respiratory precautions” have resulted in the recommendation for “social distancing”. As my husband and I have been walking around our neighborhood and biking more regularly, I’ve noticed that people are staying physically distant but sometimes also avoiding eye contact and not saying hello, which is unusual. We try to smile and say hi whenever we can. Cyclists have long had a courtesy nod or wave as we pass each other on the road, which gives me the warm fuzzies and makes me feel part of the cycling community. I’ve been trying to consciously switch the phrase to “physical distancing” and in fact, have been making an effort to touch base regularly with friends and family in other locations. I think it’s really important to make sure that you continue to interact socially with others and to monitor the physical distancing needed to stay healthy. That interconnectedness is really important to our mental and emotional health.

Friends from around the country used one of the meeting apps to create a virtual TGIF gathering last week. We were in our various homes from Chicago to Tampa, enjoying a favorite snack and beverage while seeing each other on video. The thumbnail array looked a bit like the Brady Bunch intro (yes, I’m dating myself). But it was a lot of fun. We’ll try it again and are thinking about online games to add to the fun. Balderdash was one our favorites for in-person fun, and may be adaptable.

UFHealth has been moving to telemedicine very quickly, just like other practices in the country. There are growing pains, of course, but I think everyone has enjoyed the contact and not having to drive into the office. I know everyone misses campus parking! I suspect we’ll be using telemedicine for many if not most of our follow-ups after this, and the folks who are driving from Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, Melbourne, etc will be happy not to have to pile into the car and drive for hours with the wheelchairs and so on. But, there are definite limits to telemedicine, particularly without video, so some visits (especially for new patients and new problems) will still need to be done in person.

If you haven’t already done it, please sign up for the UFHealth portal at:

Regular email is not secure for protected health information. Please don’t send me info through my email, send it through the portal. If I get sick, no one else is going to check my email and get that message. But if you send it through the portal, the team will have someone who will see it.

The portal is the platform where you can see your test results, get your medication list (as reconciled from your last clinic visit) and allergies. You can request refills. It will also have your appointments and provide the link for your telehealth visit. It’s easy to use and quick to sign up. I promise.

I look forward to “seeing” you virtually or hearing your voices on the phone. Until that time, stay safe & healthy.

Now, go wash your hands! For at least 20 seconds. With soap & water!