Thanksgiving To-Do List: Stay Prepped for Holiday Wellness

November 25, 2020

This year has made one thing certain, and that’s how quickly life can change. A study for the supermarket industry suggested that in late October, only 34 percent of Americans said they planned to shop for Thanksgiving by delivery or curbside pickup. However, with an increase in COVID-19 cases across the country and throughout our region, just in the past week we’ve heard from folks in our communities who have decided to go the safe route and cancel gatherings they’ve had in place for weeks, even when they’ve honored these traditions for years.

At the media teleconferences we’ve hosted these past two weeks led by Penn Highlands Healthcare Chief Operating Officer Mark Norman and COVID-19 Task Force leader/Emergency Services Medical Director Dr. Shaun Sheehan, we’ve urged members of our community to continue practicing precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, staying home instead of traveling, frequently washing hands, and, yes, bowing out of gatherings—even with family, unless they live in your household. How else can you prepare to stay well this Thanksgiving and beyond? We’re offering our best turkey day tips.

For diabetic patients: If you’re diabetic, ensure you have the supplies you need. With November as American Diabetes Month, the Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition (DDRC) recommends diabetic patients prepare an emergency kit stocked with a surplus of lancets and testing strips, an extra supply of medication, a small insulated bag should you need to transport insulin in an emergency, and items like hard candy, juice boxes, or glucose tablets in the event you experience hypoglycemia. Especially if you’ll spend time alone this holiday season, it may be a good idea to leave a note in an easy-to-find location indicating your name, the type of diabetes you have, medications and allergies, your pharmacy and primary care provider’s contact information, emergency contacts, and even the make, model, and number of your insulin pump.

Eat clean: Last Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans of increased strains of salmonella poisoning associated with turkey consumption, along with safe cooking tips—from the CDC: 

  • Thaw the turkey safely by placing it in the refrigerator in a container, in a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water, or in a microwave oven following the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Keep raw turkey separate from other foods
  • Keep surfaces clean
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Avoid allowing hands or utensils to contaminate spice jars 
  • Cook turkey to 165°F, inserting your food thermometer into the thickest location of the breast, thigh, and wing joint.

For chest pains: Don’t write it off as indigestion. This week, Sheehan said that a few signs that indicate you need care from the Emergency Department are for trouble breathing, persistent chest pain, difficulty staying awake, or blueness around the face or lips. 

For COVID-19: If you believe you’ve been exposed to someone who is confirmed as COVID-positive, or you experience what you think may be COVID-19 symptoms (loss of taste or smell, sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, or diarrhea or vomiting with any of the other symptoms), this week we introduced rapid COVID-19 testing with results within 24 hours at the QCares in Clearfield, DuBois, Moshannon Valley, Punxsutawney, St. Marys and Penn Highlands Huntingdon Urgent Care. Walk in or call your Penn Highlands provider to see whether you can be tested—and be sure to return home immediately and self-quarantine while you wait for your test results.  

And as we’ve stated in recent weeks, this year don’t forget your flu shot. For your health and wellness needs over Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, visit