As we pass the half-year mark of being in a global pandemic, it is interesting to look back to see how much has changed in our world and our own behavior in such a short amount of time. I’m sure for many of us our work has shifted, our goals may have changed, and above all, we are spending much more time at home. While this caution is an effective way of preventing the spread of COVID-19, the uncertainty about the safety of medical offices may be causing damage to our national health as more people shun routine medical care in an overabundance of caution.
Early last month the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published the results of their week- long survey (conducted in June) on the COVID-19 outbreak and the public’s evaluation of the situation. In their survey, they asked respondents if they had avoided medical care, either routine or emergency, due to concerns related to COVID-19. As of June 30th, 40.9% of the nearly 5,000 respondents reported that they had delayed or completely avoided medical care. Of these respondents 12% reported that they had specifically avoided medical care for an emergency concern.
On top of that, 54.7% of respondents who reported having two or more underlying medical conditions completely avoided medical care, despite potentially needing this care. This group of people are most likely to require frequent care to monitor and treat their conditions, and the avoidance of routine or emergency care could increase life threatening conditions or emergencies.
Case and point, in states with large spikes in coronavirus cases, there have also been spikes in deaths from other chronic medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension. No doubt many of these deaths could have been avoided if patients felt safe getting the care they needed. By following the guidelines to stay healthy, people inadvertently have made themselves sick.
So what can be done? There is a shared responsibility between both patients and health care facilities to ensure patients can see their medical provider when there is a need. Patients should try their best to not avoid medical care when needed. Routine and emergency care are both important for keeping people healthy. Avoiding it in an effort to protect oneself against COVID-19 can be counter-productive. Search out clinics and doctors who are following health department guidelines and execute good hygiene habits by washing your hands frequently and wearing a mask over your mouth and nose.
Medical clinics should do all that they can to make patients feel comfortable and confident pursuing the care they need. At Empowered Health we achieve this by completing frequent cleanings of the clinic, monitoring patient and employee temperatures and symptoms, requiring face masks for all and limiting in-person appointments when possible. We also offer telemedicine options for those who have serious concerns about COVID-19 but still need to receive the care they need.
COVID-19 is a health concern for all of us, but should not take precedent over healthcare necessary to manage pre-existing medical conditions. Make sure to continue receiving the medical care you need to prevent emergencies down the road.