Fear Of Covid-19 Is Causing Americans To Skip Care
Fear Of Covid-19 Is Causing Americans To Skip Care
Because of social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic, hospitals and doctor’s practices have cancelled routine screenings and non-essential surgeries. The dire predictions of the experts and pronouncements of the elected leaders may be causing some Americans to fear going to seek medical care for life-threatening illnesses. The costs to our beautiful country are mounting.
While it is clear that this pandemic is running rampant through densely populated areas with massive public transportation, it is also true that vast areas of the country are barely touched. The hospitals in those areas barely touched prepared for an influx of Covid-19 patients that have to this day failed to materialize. As Salon.com reported:
Despite the growing need to find enough able medical workers to staff hospitals seeing an unprecedented number of patients, tens of thousands of medical workers have lost their jobs, in part due to state restrictions imposed to contain the virus spread.
Altarum, a nonprofit health research and consulting firm, reported last week that 43,000 health workers lost their jobs in just the first month of the crisis. Most of the losses were among non-hospital workers that are employed at physician and dentist offices that closed amid statewide lockdowns. However, the trend has now expanded to hospitals.
In Michigan, one of the areas hit hardest by the outbreak, Beaumont Health announced that it would lay off at least 300 workers at a Detroit-area hospital while the Detroit Medical Center furloughed about 480 employees.
And, of course, it is true that some hospitals in the hottest of the hot spots, New York and New Jersey, are overwhelmed, the Michigan hospital mentioned in the Salon article laid-off employees because the virus peaked and there was no other income for the hospital to rely on.
The fear spread by the chattering hairdos on television and fascist-loving scientists and elected officials are not just causing medical staff to lose their jobs. That fear may be causing people to avoid walk-in clinics and emergency rooms and put themselves in greater harm. MSN.com reposted a Washington Post column asking where all the ill people have gone?
Soon after he repurposed his 60-bed cardiac unit to accommodate covid-19 patients, Mount Sinai cardiovascular surgeon John Puskas was stumped: With nearly all the beds now occupied by victims of the novel coronavirus, where had all the heart patients gone? Even those left almost speechless by crushing chest pain weren’t coming through the ER.
Not just heart problems, but also appendicitis, gall bladder problems, strokes and intestinal issues. These people may feel that their problems are small compared to all those suffering and dying of Covid-19. They may fear catching this Coronavirus by walking into a medical area. These people may also fear going in to an emergency room or walk-in clinic and never seeing their loved ones again, since hospitals don’t allow anyone to accompany patients now.
KCRA in Sacramento, California filed this report featuring Dr. Vanessa Walker, who says not to put off going in, yeah, right?
Here is a horror story from the MSN.com and Washington Post article:
Evert Eriksson, trauma medical director at the Medical University of South Carolina, described a man in his 20s who tried to ignore the growing pain in his belly, toughing it out at home with the aid of over-the-counter painkillers. By the time he showed up at the hospital, perhaps 10 days after he should have, he had developed a large abscess, one that was gnawing through the muscle in his abdominal wall.
A fairly routine surgery and a night in the hospital had become a lengthy and difficult inpatient stay, with doctors operating and using antibiotics to control the widespread infection, according to Eriksson. Only after they succeed in vanquishing the infection can they address the appendix itself.
“That’s going to be a real wound-care challenge for him moving forward,” said Eriksson, who is caring for the patient. “He said to me he could [imagine] the virus crawling on the hospital. He was just scared to come.”
We know that hospitals have cancelled procedures for joint replacements. The American College of Cardiology has issued guidance on cancelling cardiology procedures:
With a primary goal of reducing the risk of infection/spread of COVID-19, protecting our patients and care teams, enhancing capacity to respond to the pandemic, and preserving access to necessary cardiovascular care, many clinics and hospitals have begun deferring non-urgent cardiovascular testing and procedures.
In general, it is reasonable to consider deferring any test or procedure that is unlikely to directly impact clinical care or outcomes over the next several months.
But, without seeing patients in person, not just telemedicine, how is this knowable? It’s a guestimate as the very best. Dermatologists are not doing body scans for skin cancer. Mammograms have been cancelled. And, in the most vicious of circles, dentists have closed their offices. The link between oral care and heart disease has long been known. Two months can make a huge difference in all of these areas.
Covid-19 is highly contagious. It is very deadly for those who are immuno-compromised and/or have co-morbidities. We can all agree on that. But, the price we are paying in the death of our economy and the long-term health outcomes for Americans is more pernicious than we know now. The cure is worse than the disease.