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Health Care & The Pandemic

Health Care & The Pandemic

The pandemic has caused people to put non-medical appointments on hold.  Since March, both patients and physicians have canceled routine checkups, postponed preventive screenings and put off elective surgeries to protect the health and safety of all parties involved.

Now remember, just because the patient has backed off on their health plans doesn't mean diseases went away or improved on its own.  Many patients still question when and if it’s OK to reschedule their appointments. 

There is no true right or wrong answer.  Each case is individual and should be discussed with your doctor or health care professional. They will help you weigh out the risks and benefits of visiting in-person.

The community you live in plays a factor as far as the number of coronavirus cases being experienced.  If there is a surge, the choice would seem likely to not risk the chance of exposure if your health condition is not an emergency.  Many physicians are doing tele-doc visits via the phone or computer.

However, many people have discounted symptoms and ailments as well as ongoing critical health issues as not important enough to go to the emergency room.  This decision can detrimental to the situation as some conditions need immediate attention and waiting will make matters worse.

Reports have validated this in seeing a 42 percent decline in emergency room visits during the last few months of the pandemic.

Health care issues that call for immediate attention can include types of symptoms such as difficulty breathing, shortness of breath; chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure; sudden dizziness or weakness; a head or spine injury; confusion or difficulty speaking; and uncontrolled bleeding. Injuries from falls should also be evaluated promptly.

Of course, there is an increased risk of contacting the coronavirus each time you go out into public places such as hospitals or clinics but a greater risk of not treating an illness that that needs immediate attention.

The Center for Disease Control has also noted a sharp decline in childhood vaccinations during the pandemic, leaving many children at risk for preventable deadly diseases.  

The same goes for the three most important vaccines for older adults are the flu vaccine, the pneumococcal vaccine and the shingles vaccine, which is given in two doses, two to six months apart.  You don’t want to start the series and then wait too long for the next phase.

It will be extremely important to keep everyone healthy this fall when a possible second wave of the virus returns.  Getting a flu shot can prevent more people in general from ending up in the ER and conserving resources that may be needed for COVID-19.

In addition, many vaccines can be received at a pharmacy or a walk-in clinic. Check with your doctor to work out the best time and setting to schedule your shots.

Elective surgeries that improve the quality of life are also important to consider.  For instance, if you need a hip replacement, you should discuss with you doctor if now is a good time if surgery centers or hospitals are booking those elective options.

Another appointment that's worth discussing with your doctor is one that will improve your quality of life, such as a joint replacement surgery.

Again, this is a decision your doctor and surgical team can help you make, depending on what's best for your individual situation.

Another scary report was the 90 percent decline in routine cancer screening such as colonoscopies and biopsies.  If you have a family history of breast or other cancer, you need to make these screening a priority.

The bottom line is that the fear of the virus is real, but your overall health is important and cannot be overlooked either.  Hospitals and doctor’s offices have established safe practices for patients and health care workers as well.  Speak with your doctor to weigh out the risks and benefits of continuing to take care of your health.  Remember, health is wealth!

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