Wellness Wagon director advocates not waiting

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LINGLE – Without a shadow of a doubt, flu and cold season are definitely upon us here in Goshen County. By now there is a good chance that virtually everyone in the area has felt a bit under the weather at some point so far this winter.

Many of us prefer using home remedies and over-the-counter medications at first to try and manage our symptoms. As so many of us can certainly relate, we usually stick things out far too long before even thinking about going to a local healthcare provider. 

Since opening her urgent-care style clinic last summer, Wellness Wagon nurse practitioner, Jen Boxberger, has been devoting an enormous amount of time providing much needed care to local patients as well as teaching full time as part of the Eastern Wyoming College nursing program.

The county is directly in the heart of cold and flu season, Boxberger took valuable time away from seeing patients to briefly, but fully, encourage residents to visit not just her clinic, but any healthcare provider available in Goshen County.

According to Boxberger, residents must really stop waiting so long before seeking medical attention. Quite often by the time a patient makes the decision to finally get help, not as much can be done by that point.

“We have vaccines, and we have treatment for flu and Covid,” Boxberger said. “There are safe and effective medications if you start within 48 hours of having symptoms.”

Boxberger discussed the importance of getting help within just a short amount of time when an individual begins having any kind of symptoms. As Lingle’s experienced and knowledgeable nurse practitioner explained, the sooner the better especially when it comes to older and more vulnerable patients. 

“You have two days to be seen, get tested and start treatment,” Boxberger said. “It’s about getting people to come in within forty-eight hours. It’s the same challenges as there always are in general, but it’s just hard for people to know when to get seen and when to not. That being said, then you have those who say might be getting a fever. My number one challenge is people feel they need antibiotics for things that are all viral. Strep throat is going around and is bacterial. That needs an antibiotic. Sometimes the flu or Covid can turn into secondary pneumonia. When you have a viral illness like covid influenzas, antibiotics won’t help but antivirals will. The two frustrations this time of year for a healthcare worker is people wait too long until antivirals won’t help, then patients believe they need antibiotics to make things better. The flu can last a week, and after four or five days you want to feel better but by then it won’t help.”

Boxberger elaborated further on that notion, indicating that the overuse of antibiotics for viral illnesses can have grim long term health consequences.

“That a creates an antibiotic-resistance when we take antibiotics that we don’t need. Secondly it presents the opportunity for superbugs. You can wait a day, but as far as adults with a fever you should probably be seen. The likelihood is that it’s either something bacterial or a virus that we can treat. Kids get fevers at the drop of a dime, and that’s of course parental discretion. Parents are way better about getting their kids in, but when adults know they’ve been around someone with strep throat or a fever the need to come in sooner within forty eight hours.”

Although the Wellness Wagon could still be considered brand new in terms of business length, Boxberger stated the small private facility has seen a rather large share of patients and sickness so far this year. Additionally, there still seems to be a lot to still get through this time of year and residents still should be mindful and courteous of others.

“We are seeing a lot of flu right now,” Boxberger stated. “RSV and Covid are still around, and all three can end up with consequences such as pneumonia, hospitalization, or worse. It’s not that we want to push vaccines as not everyone should have one, but you should talk to a trusted healthcare provider. If you fall into a certain category then you probably should, as some individuals are compromised. They might have chemo, autoimmune disorder, diabetes, or they have a specifically weakened respiratory system. Those are the people we worry about the most; people with asthma or a long history of smoking. It’s not going to take much for their lungs to take a hit.”

When it comes to seeking medical help when one begins to feel ill, Boxberger was mindful that most of the time residents are thoughtful and courteous to her private and personal time much to her appreciation. This however still is not a deterrent from encouraging people to reach out, and contact her via cell phone if they feel they simply cannot wait.

After working for so long in the medical field, Boxberger understands and encourages this completely.

“There are a lot of patients I’m building relationships with,” Boxberger said. “It’s a smaller practice, and we will stay a smaller practice. I can really check on people and see how they are doing. If I start someone on medicine, I’m going to check in on someone and see how they are doing. ‘How’s it going? How are you feeling?’ That’s the best part for me. If you call or text, leave me a message and I will find time. I don’t want those limited posted hours to scare people off. If it’s on a Saturday, I don’t want to wait until Wednesday. I will find time on Monday or Tuesday. I will find time so please call. The posted hours are really just drop in hours. Remember, I do house calls for people with limited mobility and can’t access their healthcare. Sometimes even during my posted hours, calling is always best.”

Despite the availability of modern-day healthcare providers as well as treatment, vaccines and medications; Boxberger still emphasizes the old-school medical concept that everyday basics still can’t be replaced.

“Wash your hands,” Boxberger insisted. “If you are sick, stay home. Those are the big two. We could say all kind of silly things but eat healthy, take your vitamins and don’t hang around sick people. We are actually seeing measles right now at higher rates, and more outbreaks of preventable illnesses because of vaccine hesitancy. It’s once again concerning, and something to watch carefully.”