Many patients are continuing to avoid hospitals during pandemic

Many patients are continuing to avoid hospitals during pandemic
Generic Hospital (Source: WSFA 12 News)

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - For some, heart health has taken a back seat during this pandemic. Since it hit our area, patients have been hesitant to head to the hospital with heart and other health issues. WDBJ7 checked in with a Carilion cardiologist to see if doctors in Roanoke noticed any changes.

With the spread of the coronavirus, patients with symptoms like chest pains and shortness of breath have been afraid to go to the hospital. A Carilion Interventional Cardiologist, Eric Williams, says that recently, more people have been willing to go, but the numbers are still down.

“They were really afraid to come into an emergency department or go to a clinic or come to a hospital at all for fear they might be infected, so they just delayed their care or they didn’t come in at all,” Williams said.

He says patients should not be avoiding the hospital if they’re in need of medical attention.

“The more prompt and faster you are evaluated for these type of conditions, it will typically improve your outcome and, actually, delay in presenting for treatment can actually result in serious illness and, or, death,” he said.

Since April, people have been feeling more comfortable coming to the hospital. Williams says that may be because patients are starting to understand their risk of exposure to COVID-19 at hospitals is pretty low, thanks to all the precautions.

“The hospital takes a lot of measures to prevent the spread of an infection in a hospital and so it can be a safe place for them to come,” he said.

But Williams says that patient volumes have returned to around 80% to 90%, which is still 10% to 20% lower than what volumes normally are this time of year. And he wants to see that number increase.

“Typically, the sooner you receive care or treatment, the better you do,” he said.

Williams hopes more people will realize how important it is to take heart problems seriously.

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