Find out when you need to go to the health center
When should I go to the health center? The pandemic caused by the new coronavirus and social isolation measures leave many people unsure of what to do when they get sick or need health care, unrelated to COVID-19.
Should you go to the health center? What care should you get? Is it safe? Can you have contact with a patient suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus?
These and other questions have concerned many citizens and, as a result, the Directorate General of Health (DGS) has already published information leaflets on the importance of going to the health services whenever necessary, without neglecting urgent situations such as a suspected stroke or heart attack, for example. We explain below how everything works at the moment.
When you need to go to the health center, according to the rules of the mitigation phase
On March 26, Portugal entered the mitigation phase. This is the third and most serious phase, as it means that there is local, indoor, and/or community transmission. During this period, it is essential to mitigate the effects of the disease, reduce its spread and decrease the associated mortality.
To accomplish this, the entire health care system, public and private, is required to meet certain standards and guidelines. All hospitals and health centers have been prepared to accommodate non-COVID and suspected COVID patients separately, with areas exclusively dedicated to COVID-19.
The model for approaching a suspected or confirmed case of infection is well developed and includes the essential steps of screening, referral, and treatment.
At this stage, COVID patients with mild symptoms remain at home; moderate patients are referred to health centers; severe, but non-critical, patients go to the hospital; while critical patients are admitted to the hospital.
In hospital pediatric wards, reorganization may also be done to make units available to treat pediatric patients with COVID-19 if referral hospitals for children with new coronavirus infection are no longer able to cope.
I feel sick. Can I go to the health center?
It depends on the symptoms you are experiencing. At this time, all persons who develop an acute respiratory condition of cough (persistent or worsening of usual cough), or fever (temperature ≥ 38.0°C), or dyspnea/difficulty breathing are considered suspect for COVID-19, and therefore should remain in isolation and contact the SNS24 line (808 24 24 24).
Other situations, not suspected of COVID, but urgent, should still be managed by health services. In addition, the Directorate General of Health emphasizes that there are procedures that should not be postponed, such as consultations for the application of the National Vaccination Program and child and adolescent health consultations, although some of them can be carried out via teleconsultation.
There are also vaccinations that should not be postponed, such as recommended vaccinations up to 12 months of age; BCG (for eligible children); vaccination of the chronically ill and at-risk groups; and pertussis vaccine (for pregnant women).
The Health Department also leaves recommendations to health departments, such as:
- postpone non-emergency consultations, tests, and procedures;
- ensuring necessary prescriptions;
- guaranteeing the supply of consumables for the maintenance of treatments, especially with insulin;
- promote remote contact between users and health professionals.
Check here for COVID-19 laboratories and testing centers with Medicare agreements.