Feature

COVID-19’s effect on appointments

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and two days later, on March 13, then U.S. President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a National Emergency.  

Since then, nationwide lockdown has been on-and-off. But for some, not so much. In June 2020, the CDC and Qualtrics LLC conducted a survey, where people responded to questions about medical care. Within 4,975 respondents, 31.5% said they avoided or delayed routine medical care and 40.9% avoided emergency or urgent care.  

There are telling results within a few groups: young adults, unpaid caregivers for adults, Hispanic adults, people with disabilities, people with underlying conditions and students. These groups exceeded 20% in avoiding urgent or emergency care and exceeded 50% with routine medical care.  According to the CDC, the avoidance of any medical care, whether routine or emergency, was very prevalent among unpaid caregivers for adults, people with at least two underlying medical conditions and people with disabilities.  

In the sense of the caregivers, it was a simple guilt of not wanting to get the people they care for sick, while with those with underlying conditions and disabilities, it was most likely avoiding persons that could carry COVID-19 and put them at risk. 

Even though these statistics are from June of 2020, they are still relevant now. In an article from Emergency Management on Feb. 9, people who are suffering heart attack or stroke symptoms wait until it becomes unavoidable to call their physicians or 911, risking severe damage and death.  

Dr. Andrew Lim, the director of Bristol Hospital in Bristol, Connecticut, said, “We’re seeing fewer people come in, but we’re seeing sicker people.” The article stated that those who were waiting were the most vulnerable to COVID-19: diabetics, the elderly, the obese, and people with high blood pressure.  

Toward the beginning of the pandemic, it was noted by physicians all around the country that emergency room visits were low – as COVID-19 cases rose, emergency room visits sunk. “There was this eerie silence in the emergency department. We were all wondering what happened to the heart attacks and strokes,” Dr. Basmah Safdar, director of the chest pain center at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, said to Emergency Management. 

If you have medical conditions that require the care of a general practitioner, a specialist, or an emergency room’s staff, don’t put things off until last minute. Waiting for things to “get worse” can be detrimental to your health and your bills as well.  

When it comes to your health, if you wait for it to get so bad you need hospitalization, surgery or extra medications, you run the risk of becoming susceptible to COVID-19, especially the recent UK, Brazilian and even the South African variants that have recently appeared in the US.  

Even though Iowa only has 10 cases of the UK Variant, according to the CDC, and no cases of the other variants, this can and most likely will change. When you do go out, whether it’s to doctor appointments or to meet people, the CDC recommends to wear a mask, preferably two, stay six feet apart, avoid crowds, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.  

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