After two years of limited travel because of COVID-19, Americans are getting back to going overseas.

And in St. Charles’ new Infectious Disease (ID) clinic, Central Oregonians have a trusted and robust resource to help them stay healthy and safe during international travel.

The clinic is staffed by two infectious disease specialists: Dr. Cynthia Maree, who helped oversee St. Charles’ COVID-19 response, and Dr. Laura Selby, who is new to the health system. Selby’s arrival earlier this year allowed the health system to expand its ID program and open a dedicated clinic.

The physicians’ duties include managing complex infections for pre- and post-operative patients, hospital inpatients, immunocompromised people and others, as well as caring for patients with HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, they are available for consultation about medications, vaccinations and other health and safety issues for people traveling out of the country. (Traveling families are welcome at the clinic, too.)

“A lot of doctors are capable of doing pre-travel assessments,” Selby said. “But as ID specialists, we’re actually trained in pre- and post-travel counseling, diagnosis and treatment, from immunization to just-in-case prescriptions for diarrhea to fever evaluation after you return.”

Travel to Africa, Asia, South America and Central America comes with specific travel medicine recommendations, Selby said. People going to those areas of the world should see an ID physician before they travel – ideally four to six weeks before departure, though Selby said they will see people who are closer to their travel date.

If you are traveling and are unsure if you need a travel medicine consult, you can call the clinic for guidance, Selby said.

“We don’t just talk about infectious diseases,” she said. “We also discuss topics such as water and altitude safety. We look at embassy recommendations and make sure people are aware of any potential health or safety concerns in the country they’re visiting.”

The clinic can provide a number of commonly needed preventive drugs such as malaria prophylaxis, as well as an array of vaccines, including yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis, influenza and COVID-19.

The pandemic did not spur St. Charles to launch the clinic, but the timing is fortuitous, Selby said.

“Most travel was on hold for the past couple of years, but people are traveling again and I think there’s a need for this kind of service – especially having providers who are trained to manage post-travel concerns. I think that’s a big plus,” she said, “and it’s exciting to offer this to the people of Central Oregon.”

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