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When winter comes around, cold weather can refer to something other than lower temperatures. This is the season when sniffles, sore throat, coughing and achiness hit hard. The common cold, flu and various viruses are unwelcome no matter who you are, but drivers often have an especially hard time because finding medical care on the road is tough.
“The first thing we do is try not to get sick,” says Linda Caffee, who teams with her husband. Both are active in Trucker Solutions Group, an organization devoted to improving life on the road. Driver health is a prime issue for the group. “We wash our hands quite often. We take vitamin C. And if we do get sick, what we do right now is just suffer through. It’s too difficult trying to get home for a doctor’s appointment.”
Caffee’s focus on prevention is one that healthcare professionals recommend. The Centers for Disease Control advocates frequent hand-washing as the most important action to take to prevent germs from spreading.
More preventive measures:
Exercise Regularly When you get your heart pumping and work up a sweat, you strengthen your body’s immune system.
Get Plenty Of Sleep You need a good night’s rest to keep germs at bay. One study showed that people who did not get enough sleep — about seven hours is the right amount — were three times as likely to catch a cold as well-rested subjects.
Drink Lots Of Fluids Water flushes out your system, and staying hydrated is just as important in the winter months as it is in summer.
Keep Your Distance Stay away from those sneezing and coughing germ carriers, and avoid shaking hands with someone who is sick. Touch is the way that contagious diseases spread.
Get A Flu Vaccine Lots of people find excuses to avoid the shot, but it’s your best insurance against catching the flu, which will keep even the toughest trucker in bed for days.
On the road care
Of course, getting the flu shot means seeing a healthcare professional. Add to that the trucker’s DOT physical requirements, the possibility of minor injuries that need attention and the health issues that can crop up with chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension. There is always a need for qualified medical professionals on the road, yet few options for the driver in need.
“When a driver starts feeling bad, he’ll head to a truckstop,” says Henry Albert, another member of Trucker Solutions Group. “And that is where it would be good to find someone in the medical profession to advise whether the problem is one that means going to the hospital or if the driver just needs to sleep. Having a good medical center would be useful.”
Statcare, a drop-in medical center provider based in Ohio, also saw that need. The company recently opened a clinic at the TA Lodi TravelCenter in Seville, Ohio, located at I-71, exit 209, to treat drivers for minor illness or injury and more.
“We have added services specifically for truckers at the site,” says Statcare owner Ken Filbert. “We offer DOT physicals and can conduct drug testing when needed. Nurse practitioners can write prescriptions, which can be filled and picked up right at the Lodi site. They are also careful not to write prescriptions for medications that would impair a driver who needs to stay alert on the road. We will fax over a patient’s chart notes so that their primary physician will know the treatment plan. Our appointments run 15-20 minutes long, and drivers will be told the wait time when they come in.”
Scott O., a driver from Wisconsin, discovered the center just three days before he was due to get his DOT physical and walked in for the exam.
“I would have ended up running home to get the physical done in time otherwise,” he says. “Instead of being with my family while I was home I would have had to waste time at the doctor’s office. So it was good to get it done on the road.”
Filbert hopes to expand the number of Statcare clinics for truckers at TA and Petro sites in the next year.