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Hospitals can still treat whatever ails you during COVID

A statewide health care campaign is urging people not to delay getting treated for any other health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing that hospitals can still treat non-COVID issues.

Dr. Sam Hsieh, Coulee Medical Center’s chief medical officer, told The Star in an email on Monday that “there is a national drop of 60% of normal visits for primary and specialty care visits.” 

The Spokesman Review recently reported on the issue of people delaying their healthcare, reporting that Washington state doctors have cited instances of people neglecting their health including “patients delaying colonoscopies resulting in cancer diagnoses that could have been caught weeks earlier”; “someone with a burst appendix, a result of delayed treatment for appendicitis”; and “people with strokes and heart attacks not coming to the emergency room, causing more severe side effects and potentially inoperable disabilities.”

“We’ve heard alarming stories and experienced patients delaying their care because of the fear of contracting COVID,” Hsieh told the Spokesman. “We have heard beliefs that we don’t have the time to attend to others. I want to bust that myth and say that’s simply not true.”

Hsieh served on a committee with the Washington State Hospital’s Association involved in the “Need Care? Get Care” campaign, and participated in a press conference for that campaign in which CMC represented all rural hospitals in Washington. 

“While we’re not fully back to normal operations, you shouldn’t delay care for new or worsening symptoms,” the WSHA website says. “Part of doing your part means staying healthy and connecting with your health care team if you experience troubling symptoms. … Please do not delay getting the health care you need. We strongly encourage you to call your health care provider to discuss your concerns. Many issues can be addressed with informed guidance, prescriptions or a tele-medicine appointment.”

The website further states that hospitals have implemented additional precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, including separating patients with COVID-like symptoms from others, using social distancing, cleaning the hospital more often, limiting the number of visitors, having staff wear masks more often, and more.

“We hope to build confidence with people that health care is available and safe to access – and that options exist beyond in-person visits,” the site states. 


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