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Another COVID-19 Impact: More people delaying, cancelling medical care appointments

Posted at 3:35 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 20:09:04-05

SALT LAKE CITY — More people are delaying or skipping going to the doctor during the pandemic, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Executive Director of the Community Physicians Group at the University of Utah Health believes a lot of people are missing out on seeing a healthcare provider because of misconceptions.

Read: For the second day in a row, Utah sees 23 new COVID-19 deaths

“I was talking with one of my medical directors earlier today and she shared that, that the patient said ‘I don’t want to bother you because I know you are busy with COVID patients. And she said, ‘Actually, we want to take care of you’,” Dr. John Barrett said.

Many people are mistaking Utah’s overwhelmed hospital system with the entire healthcare system, he said.

Read: Utah nears a 'crisis of care' with COVID-19 impacting hospitals

“Once we reach out, we see that these patients are actually really responsive and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were open,” he said.

Doctors’ offices are taking extra precautions against COVID-19 and there is a lot of data supporting people are not at great risk of contracting the virus there. Here are some suggestions on how to go to the doctor's office safely.

A Harris Poll reports,68 percent of Americans admit that they or someone they live with has either delayed or cancelled seeing a healthcare professional during the pandemic. Most people reporting skipping dental care, vision care or a wellness exam.

Healthcare workers are concerned what thislack of medical care could mean for patients long-term.

"Delayed or avoided medical care might increase morbidity and mortality associated with both chronic and acute health conditions,” the CDC reported.

In an editorial, the director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute said they are predicting about 10,000 more people will die from breast or colorectal cancer throughout the next decade due to COVID-19's impact on oncology care.

While virtual healthcare is an amazing alternative, some healthcare needs require an in person visit, Dr. Barrett said.

“That’s one of the concerns is chronic medical conditions that they might not know, they might not know it is doing damage to them and there is no way to know without the appropriate kind of evaluation,” Dr. Barrett said.

Children are also missing out on doctors’ visits during the pandemic. The CDC released a study this summershowing fewer children had been given childhood vaccinations during the pandemic.

“When we are not getting to just see that they are growing and developing and doing okay, we worry,” Dr. Kaitlin Carpenter, Pediatrician with Intermountain Healthcare said.

Routine visits are vital for preventative care, as well as to ensure your child is healthy, Dr. Carpenter said.

“We are always checking on your child’s growth and making sure they are gaining weight and getting taller like they should and if they aren’t that can point to some really serious health problems,” she said.

This is often the busiest time of year for doctors with seasonal illnesses, and Dr. Carpenter reminds people to make sure they are taking care of their health needs.

“Even though yes, there is a lot of Coronavirus out there still are those infections that we see every year,” she said.