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Sep 11, 2020

Recent studies report that a significant number of people continue to delay healthcare, whether it is putting off annual screenings and wellness exams or seeking care in an emergency. Millions of people suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma and hypertension that do best with regular monitoring and treatment to help keep the disease from getting worse. And people are still affected by stroke, heart attack and other emergencies, despite the pandemic. Seeking care for these and other serious health concerns could prevent worsening illness. Hospitals and doctors’ offices continue to care for both non-COVID and COVID patients. Safety precautions are in place to help ensure that care can be provided when care is needed.

“Our community can be reassured that our hospitals and ERs are safe places in the event of an emergency,” said Lynnette Watkins, MD, Baptist Health System Chief Medical Officer. “The key is to not delay care if you or a loved one have symptoms that are best evaluated in an emergency room. Call 911 if you think a heart attack or stroke is suspected.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) calls the degree to which people have put off treatments for serious health conditions “one of the hidden tragedies of the pandemic” and warns that delaying care because of fear of COVID-19 can result in poor outcomes or even death. A survey on behalf of the American College of Emergency Physicians found that nearly a third of people in the U.S. had postponed routine care during the pandemic. A study reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that visits to emergency departments dropped by 38 percent. And a survey from the Kaiser Foundation reported that 48 percent of Americans have a family member who has delayed care during the pandemic.

Of particular concern are those who suffer from heart disease, or coronary artery disease. This disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for over 600,000 deaths annually or 1 in every 4 deaths. If you have missed, or are behind schedule for an important screening, you should not delay rescheduling these procedures.

“We are here for our community as we were before COVID, and want to make sure you receive safe, compassionate care,” said Matt Stone, Baptist Health System Group CEO. “Outcomes can improve with early intervention, so please do not delay if you think something may be serious or should be assessed by a physician.” 

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