December 22

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Impact of non-COVID-19 related illness treatment from the global pandemic

COVID-19 has heightened physical and mental health concerns on a global scale. The media and medical professionals emphasize the importance of staying safe from COVID-19, but many people are neglecting non-COVID-19 related health issues. Hospitals and medical clinics have been overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, so non-COVID individuals are afraid to seek medical attention for other illnesses. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a major consequence of this pandemic has been the lack of utilization of many important medical services that people require to maintain good health (Non-COVID-19, 2020). These medical services also include urgent and emergent medical needs, which are often severe and time-sensitive. Mayo Clinic has also reported nearly 30% of people are delaying or avoiding seeking medical attention due to COVID-19 concerns (Getting safe, 2020).  

In order to combat the fear that people face when deciding whether or not to receive medical attention, many medical professionals have opted to use telehealth systems instead of face-to-face medical appointments. Telehealth appointments are proficient for many minor medical needs but cannot help in urgent situations. These appointments are mostly used for follow-up meetings, medication management, chronic disease management, lifestyle coaching, and for the sharing of test results (Smith, 2015). There are many benefits of telehealth such as lower costs, increased accessibility, and convenience (Villines, 2020). However, in situations where urgent life saving care is needed, telehealth appointments are not useful. Major burns, cuts, or pain should be directed to the nearest emergency room or urgent care for in person treatment (Villines, 2020). 

In more emergent situations, people must make the decision to receive care at an emergency room or to avoid medical attention all together. Currently, hospital emergency rooms nationwide are seeing half of the normal amount of patients that they would have seen pre-COVID (Getting safe, 2020). Additionally, about 80% of adults fear they could contract COVID-19 from an emergency room (Getting safe, 2020).  However, this fear should not prevent individuals from seeking medical attention when needed. According to a recent study, which evaluated 39 hospitals’ emergency rooms, there is no increased risk for contracting COVID-19 in an emergency room than in other public settings (Templeton, 2020).  Most emergency rooms are equipped with ventilation systems and partake in strong infection control practices to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 from patient to patient or among employees (Templeton, 2020).

Dr. Steven Woolf reported to the American Heart Association that “we need to assure them that the danger of not getting care is greater than the danger of getting exposed to the virus” (Precker, 2020). Not receiving crucial medical care can have a more severe negative impact on health than possibly contracting COVID-19. Hospitals, although home to the most severe COVID-19 patients, are also the cleanest and most equipt place to prevent viral spread. Typical hospital precautionary measures include routine cleaning and disinfecting, use of personal protective equipment, and expertise of medical professionals (Precker, 2020). 

A nationwide study reported 87,000 excessive deaths in a two-month period, only two thirds of which were COVID-19 related. In 14 states, more than half of the excessive deaths were due to non-COVID related deaths (Precker, 2020). While staying safe from COVID-19 is important, taking necessary steps to ensure the quality of your health is just as crucial. If you begin to feel ill, or have any other medical issue arise, call your doctor or set up a telehealth appointment for non-emergent cases. For urgent cases, do not fear the prospect of seeking medical care, even amidst a public health crisis. Medical professionals encourage individuals to seek care and treatment in order to remain safe and healthy. Promotion of this behavior can prevent urgent health problems from going unnoticed and untreated, potentially saving lives. 

References 

Getting safe emergency care during COVID-19. (2020, July 16). Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-emergency-care-during-covid-19/art-20487829

Healthcare Facilities: Managing Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic. (2020, June 28). Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-hcf.html

Non-COVID-19 Care Framework. (2020, June 30). Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/framework-non-COVID-care.html

Precker, M. (2020, July 10). More people are dying during the pandemic – and not just from COVID-19. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/07/10/more-people-are-dying-during-the-pandemic-and-not-just-from-covid-19

Smith, A. (2015, November 23). Which Types of Visits Are Perfect for Virtual Care? Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://chironhealth.com/blog/which-types-of-visits-are-perfect-for-virtual-care/

Templeton, A. (2020, November 24). Risk of catching COVID-19 in the emergency room is likely low, study shows. Retrieved December 01, 2020, from https://www.opb.org/article/2020/11/24/risk-of-catching-covid-19-in-the-emergency-room-is-likely-low-study-shows/

Villines, Z. (2020, April 20). Telemedicine benefits, disadvantages, and uses. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/telemedicine-benefits

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