FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – When Covid-19 cases go up, ER visits for non-Covid-19 reasons drop, according to new report from the CDC that has North Texas health experts worried about the general health of the population.
The study found Americans either delayed or were denied emergency care because of the pandemic.
Visits to ER dropped 42% during the first wave.
Dr. Farhan Ali, Interventional Cardiologist at Heart Center of North Texas says as coronavirus cases rise, he’s seeing patients skip routine appointments.
“We still have no-shows and most of the physicians have had some. Some specialties have been hit harder than others,” he said.
He says some patients might be putting themselves in danger by not getting care.
“I can think of 10 patients over the last two week that have been in the hospital because they have had heart attacks who have had worsening heart failure,” he said.
Its not just the fear of the getting infected with the virus that’s delaying care. The recent announcement by Gov. Greg Abbott to once again halt elective procedure could complicate current cases he said.
“In March we had a halt in elective procedures, so we weren’t allowed to do elective procedures in the hospital that were considered non-emergent for example, so those started stacking up and building a backlog.”
Fort Worth resident Kenneth Don Davis was supposed to get his elective heart surgery in late March but the cancellation made his condition worse.
“I was having pain in my arm when I walked maybe a half block and I had burning in my chest,” he said.
He lived through the pain for more than a month, but at the time he felt he had no choice.
”I was worried. My wife was worried also,” he said. “I was worried that I might have another heart attack and I would have to go in and get more work done.”
Doctor Ali says patients need to get routine and preventative care to avoid such issues.
“Patients are fearful to come into the hospitals and we have patience are delaying care of chronic conditions which then become acuter and now we are seeing patients come into the hospital with heart attacks which could have been avoided,” Dr. Ali said.
Davis finally got treated in May, weeks after his initial surgery date. Dr. Ali said it is safe to go to the doctor’s office because of all the precautions they’ve been taking.
“I think that if I had to go to a doctor right now, I would feel more comfortable with a mask on, coming and seeing the physician,” he said. “I think your chances of getting coronavirus is higher if you are in the community than they are in the hospital.”
Recently, Medicare sent out an alert urging patients to get routine care for chronic ailments such as diabetes and blood pressure.
It is also asking patients to get preventative screenings for cancer.
The Texas Medical Association also released a Public Service Announcement urging patients to get care.