It is often said that “Life is what happens to us while we’re making other plans.”
COVID-19 made other plans for us. Obviously, the pandemic has changed everyone’s routines. Back in early March, it seemed we would be changing our habits for a couple weeks or a month and then things would be “back to normal.” At that point, it seemed fine to delay our regular routines-such as doctors’ visits and any sort of non-urgent care.
However, those weeks have turned into months. Now, here we are months later with continued alteration of our lifestyles through social distancing, mask-wearing in public, and avoidance of large gatherings.
While it is certainly correct to take these safety measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19, it is important not to neglect your other health issues that you may have been putting off. The CDC notes there was a decrease in emergency room visits for heart attacks (23%), strokes (20%), and blood sugar crises associated with diabetes (10%) in the 10 weeks following the declaration of the COVID-19 national emergency. Heart attacks and strokes have not taken a vacation. Fear of going to emergency departments in the midst of dealing with the pandemic appears to be a key driving force in this decrease.
Other health issues such as management of blood pressure and diabetes also are taking their toll. While these are often more chronic in nature, they can create lasting and irreversible damage if not monitored and managed over time.
At Florida Medical Center, protocols have been established to effectively isolate infected patients and minimize the risk to non-COVID-19 patients that are having necessary care in our facility. Testing for the virus in potentially asymptomatic patients prior to elective procedures is now the routine.
If you need urgent treatment, feel confident in going to the Emergency Department to seek care and don’t put off taking care of other health issues as you may have put them off long enough already. Life continues even with the disruption of COVID-19.
Dr. Frank J. Vittimberga is a Physician Advisor at Florida Medical Center