Don't let COVID-19 concerns keep you from seeking medical help

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If you are feeling sick or have been injured to the point you believe you need medical care, don’t delay — see a doctor ASAP.

Don’t let the fear of COVID-19 keep you from getting urgent medical care.

That’s the latest medical advice from Washington state’s 112 hospitals and health systems.

Last week the Washington State Hospital Association launched a public education campaign aimed at nudging Washingtonians to not delay necessary treatment.

It warns that the delay in treatment can make the illness or injury far worse and, ultimately, much more difficult to treat.

“We’re seeing the results of those delays; people are sicker and have more serious injuries when they show up in our emergency departments,” said Dr. Stuart Freed, Wenatchee-based Confluence Health’s chief medical officer, at news conference. “And many times, those injuries and illnesses could have been treated in a doctor’s office or a clinic. Unfortunately, those delays have resulted in more significant problems for the patient going forward.”

According to the Hospital Association, national and local surveys have found that people are delaying care because they are concerned about exposure to COVID-19 at a health care facility or they believe care is only available for COVID-19 patients.

This has resulted in a dramatic declined in patient visits to clinics since the coronavirus outbreak. In fact, medical facilities throughout Washington report a substantial decline in patients — and, of course, revenue.

Much of the revenue lost is due to Gov. Jay Inslee’s halt of elective surgeries on March 19.

And perhaps that gubernatorial edict led many to believe that seeking care for illness or injuries was also frowned upon. It is not.

Yes, good judgment needs to be used. Only visit a clinic or the ER if treatment is truly needed. If you would have seen a doctor for this condition prior to the pandemic, you should do so now.

Delaying treatment can be a serious threat to your health.