Avoiding routine and emergency care can be a serious threat to your health during COVID-19, and it’s also important not to delay care for chronic health conditions or urgent medical events.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly 40% of people have delayed medical care due to fear of COVID-19. Emergency room visits nationally dropped 42% in the early part of the pandemic.
“Some patients are afraid to come to the hospital and are delaying care for serious problems such as heart attacks, stroke and even lung cancer,” says Junaid Khan, M.D., director of cardiovascular services at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland. “Putting off care for chest pain or trouble breathing could lead to serious health consequences, like irreversible heart damage.”
And it’s not just emergency care that’s critical, says Khan. “We want patients to get their regular preventive care including cancer screenings, treatment for chronic conditions like asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as vaccinations.”
Hospitals and doctors in the Sutter Health network are taking extra precautions at our care centers. Staff, providers and patients are screened for symptoms. Masks are required, and Sutter care centers require physical distancing where possible. Surfaces and equipment are sanitized frequently, and sanitized again between patients.
Safety is — and always has been — our top priority. So don’t delay the care you need. Come in for important screenings like pelvic exams, mammograms and colonoscopies. Get checkups and immunizations for your child. And don’t forget to get a flu shot this fall to help protect you during the upcoming winter months.