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Don’t Let the New Normal Land You in—or Keep You Away from—the Hospital!

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

Wellness Warriors, take notice! I recently went in for a colonoscopy…it was an outpatient procedure…and the results came back all clear…for which I am truly grateful!

BUT here’s what I want you to think about.

People are putting off routine health check-ups during these uncertain times because they are worried about contracting the virus in a hospital or health facility. And worse, those experiencing symptoms of more serious conditions, like heart attack, stroke, and even appendicitis, are putting off going to the hospital. Sadly, this is proving to have deadly consequences.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Hospital

Many doctors say the uncertain times we’re currently living through have produced a silent sub-epidemic of people who need care at hospitals but who don’t dare go in for treatment. According to physicians and early research, these include people with inflamed appendixes, infected gall bladders, bowel obstructions, and, more ominously, chest pains and stroke symptoms.

“Everybody is frightened to come to the ER,” Mount Sinai cardiovascular surgeon, John Puskas, said.

Alarming new research also shows that deaths are increasing from causes such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, while emergency room visits for those conditions are actually down. “One factor that could be contributing to the increase [in deaths] is that people are afraid to come in for care,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. “We need to assure them that the danger of not getting care is greater than the danger of getting exposed to the virus.”

Dr. Woolf led a recent study that was published July 1, 2020, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which found that in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania (the five states with the most C-19 deaths in March and April), there were dramatic increases in deaths from causes such as heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
New York City experienced the biggest jumps, including a 398% rise in heart disease deaths and a 356% increase in diabetes deaths.

Wellness Warriors, this is just sad and unnecessary. The immediate message from the medical community to patients is clear: Don’t delay needed treatment. “Time to treatment” dictates the outcomes for people having heart attacks and strokes. If fear of the virus leads people to delay or avoid care altogether, then the death rate will extend far beyond those directly infected by the virus.

What to Do

If you feel like you might be experiencing symptoms of something serious, like a heart attack, stroke, or appendicitis, GET HELP! Don’t wait. Call 911 or have someone take you straight to the emergency room. As I just mentioned, “time to treatment” is crucial, not only to save your life, but also to ensure a good quality of life afterward.

But just because you’re not experiencing symptoms of something serious doesn’t mean you should stop taking care of yourself. Have you had your regular exams this year? While the new normal may cause some to have concerns about the safety of going to a doctor’s office or other health facility, we cannot stop taking great care of our health. Whether a routine health check, colonoscopy, breast exam, dental exam, or heart check-up, get them done on time.

Hospitals, health facilities, and doctor’s offices are taking extensive precautions to keep all patients safe and virus-free. If it’s available, schedule a telemedicine appointment to speak to your physician/physician’s assistant/nurse before scheduling an appointment to come into the office. When it’s time to go into a health facility or doctor’s office, take standard precautions. Wear your mask, wash your hands with soap and warm water, and use hand sanitizer. I recently read an article from the Mayo Clinic, and here are a few of the tips they recommend when preparing to go to a doctor’s office or health facility.

Be sure to check for information about:

  1. Requirements regarding mask-wearing by staff and visitors

  2. Cleaning protocols and sanitizing measures for exam rooms, waiting areas, restrooms, elevators, and other frequently touched surfaces

  3. Social distancing practices at check-in, in waiting areas, and in exam rooms

  4. Limits on the number of people who can be in the clinic at the same time

  5. Screening questions and temperature checks for staff and visitors at all entrances

  6. Special measures, spatial isolation, or instructions for people who have or may have COVID-19

  7. How doctors and other staff are using personal protective equipment (PPE)

  8. Video (telemedicine) appointment options

When you’re at the facility, continue to exercise normal precautions, such as wearing your mask or face covering, washing your hands with soap and warm water or using hand sanitizer, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, use your own ink pen, and if possible, use touchless payment options (i.e., mobile or online payments). If you must pay with a card machine or cash, be sure to use hand sanitizer immediately after completing the transaction, and wash your hands thoroughly when you get home.

Self-care is more important than ever. Don’t be caught by surprise—by then, it might be too late. I’m grateful for the good results I got from my colonoscopy. Taking care of myself is paying off! Make sure you’re taking care of yourself as well! If you need help in getting on the good-health track, grab a copy of my latest bestseller, 30 Summers More. It’s chocked full of helpful tips and in-depth information on how to live your best life!

Until next time, Wellness Warriors, Live Well, Live Long!


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