St. Lawrence County doctor speaks out about having COVID-19

WWNY St. Lawrence County doctor speaks out about having COVID-19

POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWNY) - A St. Lawrence County doctor has tested positive for COVID-19 and now 80 to 100 of his patients are in isolation as a precaution.

Dr. Greg Healey, who is asymptomatic, is frustrated by the coronavirus. He's isolated at home after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

"It's always a good thing for a doctor to become a patient," he said.

At the end of April, Healey says he had mild symptoms, runny nose and a temperature of 100.5. As a precaution, he took a himself out of his practice in Canton and Potsdam for five days, and took a COVID-19 test.

"The results were negative," he said.

Days later a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Healy then had all of his staff tested again, including himself.

"And low and behold, I come out positive," he said.

Dr. Healey's first frustration with COVID-19: high results of false tests of people who are asymptomatic.

"This false negative rate is irksome, troublesome from the point of view of infection containment," he said.

Because Healey had the coronavirus, 80 to 100 of his patients are now in 14-day isolation. He says a patient's risk at his office is minimal because they limit contact, wear masks, and wipe down surfaces. He believes the greater risk is being out in public.

"So I think the chances of infecting those patients would be much lower than being out at Price Chopper, Lowes or Walmart," said Healey.

Another frustration Healey has with the virus is figuring out who gave it to whom can be very challenging. It's called contact tracing. Counties are hiring tracers, part of the criteria for reopening a region's economy. Healey says it'll be tough.

"Let's say I carry the virus right now and I give it to you, it can be from anywhere between 2 and 14 days where you develop symptoms - if you develop symptoms at all. And by that time, you get sick for a few days and get tested and get the results. That's going to be 20 days out from when you contacted me. Now if you come back and test me and say Greg Healey was one of Jeff's contacts, well, I am going to test negative unless I am extremely ill with it. But if I was asymptomatic, which is 90 percent of the people who contract this virus, I will now test negative and you're going to say, oh, it wasn't Greg Healey. Well, it could have been," he said.

Dr. Healey believes the path forward is more testing of people and places.

"We need to start testing people at random and we need to test public places. We should be testing grocery stores and saying are those places safe - what are the odds of that fruit you squeezed having viral particles on it. Wouldn't that be nice to know," he said.

Dr. Healey also sees patients at the Maplewood nursing home in Canton where there’s one case of COVID-19, and it was before Healey developed a fever.

He believes he contracted the virus being out in public.

Healey was tested again Thursday, will know the results Friday and could be back to work very soon.

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