Medical Professionals Urge Public to Go to the Doctor for Appointments
As the pandemic continues, local hospitals say they are seeing more Northlanders delay treatment for other ailments due to fears related to COVID.
NORTHLAND – As the pandemic continues, local hospitals say they are seeing more Northlanders delay treatment for other ailments due to fears related to COVID.
Medical professionals from both St. Luke’s and Essentia say that their offices are among the safest places you can go and while delaying an annual exam might not seem like a bad thing right now, not going to the doctor could only lead to worse outcomes for the patient.
With regards to safety, hospitals practice social distancing along with mandatory mask-wearing.
At St. Luke’s, about 72% of employees have been vaccinated while at Essentia, leadership there says virtually all of the staff have received the vaccine.
“Your doctors and all of us here are ready to keep caring for you in an environment where you are protected from COVID-19,” said Dr. Gretchen Karstens, a pediatrician at St. Luke’s. “Please don’t hesitate to get the care you need. We’re here and ready for you.”
Doctors say that people are delaying or skipping needed medical care presumably over fears of being exposed to COVID. However, when COVID was present throughout the Northland in the fall, medical staff were very effective in communicating how full the hospitals had become.
At that time, there was a lack of capacity to care for patients. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. For instance, at Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center, the number of COVID inpatients is down by about 95%.
“My heart just breaks when I see patients who’ve waited too long to see us and as a result have worse outcomes than they would have had otherwise,” said Dr. Andrea Boehland, an emergency medicine physician at Essentia Health. “This started to happen last spring when COVID was new and scary but it’s still happening today.”
Some of the top appointments that people have been canceling include mammograms and colonoscopies, which are preventative measures that do save lives.