Monroe County

The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic: More and more local residents who skipped routine annual regular checks seek medical help

Rochester, New York – Since the start of the pandemic, hospitals were postponing different kinds of surgeries, checkups and many of the services they offered were stalled waiting for better times with the pandemic.
During the Covid-19 waves like the one we had in place this winter, hospitals were running at full capacities, but threatening Covid-19 patients prevented others to get the much-needed medical help and attention including the annual physical, a mammogram, or a colonoscopy checkup.
From the very beginning of the pandemic, doctors and health experts warned this approach will have consequences and now, when the Omicron wave is gone, doctors are clearly seeing the consequences since more and more people seek medical help because for their medical problems which would have been prevented if discovered on time with annual checkups.
Recently, Rochester doctors see significant increase in patients with problems who haven’t been treated on time. One of these patients is Elizabeth Fraser who started experiencing some weird symptoms in the spring of 2020.
“Something inside me just told me, go get checked out,” Fraser said.
She made several tests and was discovered to have stage 1B uterine cancer. Since then, Fraser has undergone series of different procedures to treat the cancer including removal of her cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Two years later, she looks forward to fully recover and is happy to had discovered the cancer in the early stages.
“Even the doctors said they caught it early – which is really important. The earlier you catch it, the better your chances are – the better your odds are,” she said.
Doctors and health experts took Fraser as a perfect example. If the cancer was not discovered and treated on time, her condition would have most probably been much, much worse.
“If I had waited, it would have gone to grade 2 or grade 3 and I would probably be at the end of my life today,” Fraser said. “So me going and getting checked because I didn’t feel right is ultimately what saved my life.”
Fraser is lucky to be among those who were treated on time. However, 43 percent of U.S. workers have delayed routine health care since the pandemic began, The Hartford recent research shows.
“If you miss a colonoscopy, the consequence could be colon cancer,” according to Dr. Robert Cole from Rochester Regional Health. “If you miss a mammography, the consequence may be breast cancer.”
Dr. Cole was among doctors and health experts who claimed the pandemic approach was dangerous and he is now starting seeing the real consequences of what he was warning the health officials since two years ago.
“We are beginning to see people in the emergency department for example having clear evidence of a heart attack that went unrecognized by them,” he said. “Similarly, we have actually seen similar cases of strokes that have been missed by individuals for similar reasons that sometimes went, I don’t want to say ignored they were not appropriately evaluated by a healthcare provider.”
For a few weeks now, the Covid-19 numbers are going down and no new waves are expected in near future taking into consideration the immunity Americans have from vaccines or virus recovery. Even if new variant of the virus results into new Covid-19 wave, health officials believe the hospitals won’t be under heavy pressure from the pandemic.
After Omicron, many hospitals are starting to operate as per day usual operational plan and started offering all of their services. People who have skipped annual routine checks during the last two years are strongly advised to visit doctors as soon as now.

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