By: Sam Ashoo, MD, emergency medicine physician at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare
We are now nearing the end of 2020, roughly in our eleventh month of the COVID pandemic. One of the costs paid by communities all around the U.S. has been the delay in healthcare for non-COVID conditions. We do not spend much time discussing these effects of the pandemic, but they are certainly a reality for our community.
According to a survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), nearly 41 percent of people said they had delayed or completely avoided medical care because of COVID-19 related concerns. These numbers are alarming. Routine healthcare is necessary to catch diseases early. A person’s best chance at winning the battle against cancer is in early detection. Similarly, a person’s best chance at reducing the risks of stroke, heart disease and kidney failure lies in early treatment and maintenance of chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes. When someone chooses to avoid routine medical care, the chances of bad outcomes from these diseases increase.
Worse still, 12 percent of people surveyed said they had delayed urgent or emergency care. The consequences of avoiding emergency care can be far more tragic. People remaining home while having chest pain, severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath or other severe symptoms can have serious, life-threatening illnesses go untreated. This can lead to unnecessary complications and even death.
Here at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH), we’ve made considerable efforts to keep our environment safe for our patients, specifically to drastically reduce the chances of exposure to COVID-19 while being treated in doctors’ offices, the emergency room or the hospital. We enhanced our sanitation protocols early on, upgraded environmental controls and isolation rooms, and instituted mask policies and mandatory screenings for all patients, visitors and colleagues. All these changes and more were enacted to keep our patients, colleagues and community safe from COVID-19.
It is understandable to be anxious about visiting the hospital during this pandemic but, above all, we want you to know that it is safe. When you need care, we are here. When you are having an emergency, we are open and ready to help. When you are ready for your procedure or surgery, our protocols provide a safe and secure environment in which we can provide the best care, focused on helping you return to health as quickly as possible.
At a time when the threat of COVID-19 appears to be everywhere, do not let the worry of exposure stop you from seeking out help. We stand ready, in a safe and secure environment.
To learn more about the safety protocols we have put into place at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, visit TMH.ORG/Safe.