In a COVID-19 world, it’s easy to think about putting off a doctor’s visit or delaying care when we don’t feel well.

And there seem to be three main reasons people are ignoring their health worries and canceling or postponing care – or not making appointments in the first place. Let’s debunk them:

Worries about COVID-19 safety

“Screening and cleaning” is Novant Health’s mantra. Doctors’ offices look completely different than they did before COVID-19. Chairs are spaced apart in the waiting room to allow for social distancing. Dozens of other medifications have been made. And if it’s feasible for your health care provider to “see” you via a phone or video visit, that’s the first thing you’ll be offered. Since March, Novant Health has conducted hundreds of thousands of virtual visits.

Worries that emergency rooms, hospitals and clinics are filled with COVID-19 patients.

They’re not. Concern that an ER waiting room is going to be crowded with COVID-19 patients is understandable – but inaccurate. Novant Health ERs have been transformed for the age of COVID-19. There are separate waiting areas for COVID-19 patients and separate treatment rooms.

Remember, the vast majority of hospital patients are not there for COVID-19 treatment. And, if you are not experiencing life threatening symptoms and think you may have COVID-19, we’d actually recommend you not visit the ER. Here are some resources of where to seek care: Getting treatment for COVID-19.

Thinking: “I don’t feel right, but I can ride it out.”

Doctors continue to see an alarming trend. People are ignoring signs of stroke and heart attack and delaying getting help – because they’re afraid of being exposed to COVID-19. “If you’re experiencing chest pains, your biggest risk isn’t COVID. It’s a heart attack.” said Dr. Mark Mitchell, a cardiologist with Novant Health in Winston-Salem,

The more time that elapses between when patients first feel severe chest pain and when they get medical attention, the more damage is done to the heart muscle, he said. Minutes matter.

The same is true for stroke. Delaying treatment could mean the difference between walking out of the hospital a few days later or permanent brain damage that leaves you in a nursing home for the rest of your life. As neurologists like to say: Time is brain.

Want to increase your chances of staying safe and healthy this fall and winter? Take these simple steps:

  • Get a flu shot. It protects you and those around you.
  • Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing.
  • Get enough sleep. Get some exercise.
  • Eat sensibly. It doesn’t mean you can’t splurge. It means you can’t splurge all the time.

And when the time comes for a COVID-19 vaccine, get it.

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