Millions of Americans are delaying health care during COVID-19 and here's why you should not


There's no getting around it: COVID-19 is scary, but skipping your doctor's visit or emergency care can be even scarier.

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 41% of American say they've delayed or avoided seeking routine or emergency care due to concerns over COVID-19.

That number is concerning for health care leadership at McLaren Greater Lansing. "Putting off care over fear of contracting COVID-19 can lead to progression of diseases," said Linda Peterson, MD, FAPM, McLaren Greater Lansing Chief Medical Officer. "It is important to keep your essential appointments with your doctor to manage chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer treatments plus prenatal care and pediatric appointments, especially those related to immunizations."

The CDC survey also points to another concerning statistic: The highest rate of people putting off medical care was found among Black and Hispanic adults, people with disabilities, and those with two or more underlying conditions.

"If you are having chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness or numbness, slurred speech, changes in mental status, concussion or confusion, head or eye injury, broken bones or seizures you should not avoid going to the emergency room or calling 911," said Dr. Peterson. "Some of these conditions may require time-sensitive interventions or surgeries, which can only be provided in an emergency room or hospital setting."

McLaren Greater Lansing's waiting areas are set up to ensure social distancing, and McLaren is the only hospital in Lansing offering online emergency room check-in, allowing patients to skip the line and wait in the comfort of their home instead of the waiting room for non-life-threatening health concerns.

McLaren Greater Lansing is continuing to follow intensely vigilant safety standards, including staff wearing proper PPE, patients and visitors being screened for COVID-19 upon entry, and cleaning of
high-touch areas. "We are having our patients following some of the same safety precautions as our staff while in the emergency room or hospital," said Dr. Peterson. "All patients, visitors and staff are being screened for COVID symptoms, are expected to wear facial coverings or a mask and follow the same hand hygiene policies. McLaren Greater Lansing facilities are taking special care to protect all our patients and now, their visitors."

In extreme cases, patients who have put off care find their treatment options are limited due to their condition progressing. "Don't delay your care," said Dr. Peterson. "If you are experiencing an emergency and need healthcare, the emergency room and hospital are safely here for you 24 hours a day, to take care of every patient, every time."

Click here to find a family physician accepting new patients. To learn more about McLaren's online emergency room check-in, click here.