man clutching his chest and woman with stomach pain

Monday, August 3, 2020

Norman Regional Health System is sounding the alarm about the dangers of delaying medical treatment in the midst of a pandemic. The warning comes after the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 40.6% of adults delayed getting medical care between June 18 and July 15.

"I am deeply concerned that patients with serious conditions are putting off critical treatments," said Aaron Boyd, MD, Chief Medical Officer. "We are seeing it right now in our clinics, emergency rooms and hospitals."

Every Minute Matters

Dr. Boyd said it is essential to get immediate treatment for emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes and severe abdominal pain.

“In a medical emergency, every minute matters. Getting care quickly can save your life and minimize long-term effects,” Dr. Boyd said. “The research is clear. Canceled and delayed medical care can result in worsened or negative long-term health consequences.”

Rigorous Safety & Cleaning Measures 

"We know some patients are avoiding medical visits in fear of contracting COVID-19," said Brittni McGill, Chief Nursing Officer. “We want to put those fears to rest. We have implemented rigorous safety and cleaning protocols including modifying our facilities for greater social distancing, frequent hand sanitizing, additional PPE, COVID-19 testing, telehealth and limited visitation.”

Norman Regional has also expanded the use of its XENEX Lightstrike™ Germ-Zapping Robots. The robot creates an intense germicidal ultraviolet light that quickly kills the germs that cause serious infections such as coronavirus, influenza, C. difficile, MRSA and more. Norman Regional has used the robots since 2016 but trained an additional 100 employees to use the robots when the pandemic began.

Primary Care Visits

It’s also important to keep in touch with your primary care provider. Whether it’s in person, on the phone or during a virtual visit, it’s crucial patients don’t ignore acute illnesses or management of chronic conditions.

“Chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes are responsible for about 70% of deaths in the U.S.,” said David Sparlin, APRN at Primary Care – Main St. “Delaying treatment is like denying a chronic illness and hoping it will just go away. With good information and regular communication, better decisions can be made.”

While many primary care providers have helped patients over the phone, it’s those who don’t call that concern them the most.

“Sadly, I’ve had two people that didn’t call," said Casey Markland, MD. "One ignored a heart attack for a day, one ignored a stroke for a day. They both survived but they didn’t have as good of outcomes as they could have if they’d gotten treatment earlier,” she said.

Importance of Immunizations

One trend that’s also troubling Dr. Markland is the drop in infants coming in for well-child checks and immunizations. 

“Those vaccines prevent outbreaks of serious disease that are an even bigger threat to children than COVID-19,” Dr. Markland said. “Measles, whooping cough and meningitis are big concerns. Delaying those immunizations could cause serious problems.”

If you don’t have a primary care doctor, Norman Regional has 18 primary care clinics throughout south central Oklahoma. Call 405-515-5000 to find the right physician for your family.

Norman Regional also has three emergency departments in Moore and Norman. Locate the one nearest you by clicking here.