The coronavirus pandemic has thrown many changes and challenges our way. Many aspects of our lives that were once routine—like having friends over for dinner—now feel like a distant memory. And while it’s important to change our habits to protect our health and reduce opportunities for COVID-19 transmission, some aspects of life shouldn’t be avoided or put on hold, including medical care.
If you’ve recently cancelled a routine medical visit or thought twice about seeking out care for a new ailment that’s bothering you, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), up to 40% of adults reported that they have delayed or avoided medical care over the course of the pandemic due to COVID-19-related concerns. Some even avoided urgent care and visits to the emergency department, as evidenced by a decline in the number of emergency visits for heart attack, stroke, and other conditions.
Unfortunately, in some cases, you could be putting your health at risk by avoiding medical care. Determining whether to stay home or visit a healthcare facility during these challenging times is a decision that must be carefully considered—there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to medical care during a pandemic.
Here are a few points to keep in mind:
Don’t avoid visits to the emergency room.
If you’re facing an emergency medical situation, it’s important to see a healthcare provider, whether at a hospital, urgent care facility, or at your physician’s office. If you’re having trouble breathing, suffering from chest pain or pressure, experiencing uncontrolled bleeding, and other emergency conditions, it’s best to seek treatment rather than stay home.
Continue your treatment for chronic conditions.
It’s important to continue to see your healthcare provider to manage chronic conditions. Many conditions can be managed virtually, while some require visiting a healthcare facility, so it’s a good idea to speak to your physician to come up with a plan to continue your care in the safest way possible. If you are at increased risk for COVID-19, speaking to your healthcare provider to come up with a care plan is particularly important.
Don’t skip out on routine cancer screenings
If you have an upcoming mammogram or pap smear, it’s best not to put this off‚ especially if you’re at high risk for cancer and other conditions. These exams are particularly important if you have a personal or family history of cancer or have received abnormal results from a screening in the past.
Visit your provider for important vaccines
You may be tempted to skip a flu vaccine this year, but the CDC reports that the influenza vaccine is more important than ever before this fall. In addition to seeing your physician, you may be able to get this vaccine at a pharmacy or a walk-in clinic.
Look into COVID-19 safety protocols ahead of time.
Many healthcare facilities list their COVID-19 safety protocols on their website—take a look before leaving the house (or even before making an appointment) so you know what to expect and can plan ahead. Your provider may offer the option to fill out forms online or to wait in your car until it’s time to see your healthcare provider.
If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.