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Checkups in the time of Covid-19: 3 things you can do

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WITH Covid-19 still very much a threat, the last place anyone wants to be in is a hospital. Who wants to go to a place where the risk of catching the novel coronavirus is high, right?

Such a mindset has resulted in a trend that is just as troubling as the ongoing pandemic itself: delayed or avoided medical care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, by June 2020 an estimated 41  percent of US adults skipped medical care, including urgent or emergency care (12 percent) and routine care (32 percent), for fear of Covid-19.

The statistics are just as grim in the Philippines. Based on surveys by the Philippine Society of Medical Oncologists, 46.76 percent of patients are hesitant to visit hospitals during the pandemic, and patient visits have decreased by 84.78 percent. Alarmingly, nearly 74 percent of patients have deteriorated or died because they were not able to seek urgent care treatment in the hospital during the pandemic.

“Delaying a trip to the hospital to get help for a potentially life-threatening condition, or simply ignoring symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing, or a high fever can be just as bad, if not worse, than being infected with Covid-19,” says Noel Rosas, MD, chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at top hospital Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed, www.makatimed.net.ph). “Prevention is key, and early detection through a routine checkup or annual physical examination increases your chances of survival.”

How to prepare yourself for a visit to the hospital in a global pandemic?

START WITH TELEMEDICINE. Virtual consultations allow you to “see” your doctor in the comfort and safety of your home through a video call on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. It can help lessen some of the challenges that contribute to you not going in for a physical check-up like far commutes, long waits, and unnecessary exposure to other patients. “Individuals experiencing Covid-19-like symptoms, particularly, can do teleconsultions to prevent viral transmission and don’t expose the doctor or fellow patients,” points out Rosas.

But video consultations have their limitations, too. “Technical glitches, for one,” says Rosas. “For doctors, the biggest disadvantage is that we cannot thoroughly check a patient personally. This could lead to signs that may go unnoticed and could result to an incomplete assessment of the patient’s condition.”

PREPARE ALL NECESSARY TEST RESULTS AND INFORMATION. Your physician may request for blood tests, an X-ray, or other tests prior to your consult. With technology, patients can already access their results online which can be forwarded to your doctor to study before the virtual or in-person consultation.

“If you’re consulting with a doctor for the first time, familiarize yourself with your medical history as the physician will most likely ask you about it,” Rosas explains. “Do list down questions you may want to ask the doctor so all your concerns can be properly addressed and to maximize your engagement with your attending doctor.”

OBSERVE THE HOSPITAL’S STANDARD HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOL. At MakatiMed, an in-person consultation begins by first setting an appointment with your doctor and answering the health screening form online or through the MakatiMed On-Call or clinic secretary.

Bringing a companion? Make sure it’s only one person, who will also be screened before the consult. At the actual consultation, only you and your companion (if assistance is needed), the doctor, and a secretary or nurse will be present in the clinic that has been fitted with acrylic barriers and high-efficiency particulate air filters. All areas in MakatiMed, including examination rooms, are thoroughly disinfected round the clock. Hand sanitizers are available all over the hospital.

While MakatiMed does its part to ensure patients are safe from infection from the novel coronavirus, patients too are expected to follow the ABCD of hospital visits. “‘A’ is for awareness and adherence to ‘B’ for barrier or the wearing of face masks and face shields,” says Dr. Saturnino Javier, MD, MakatiMed medical director. “‘C’ is for cleanliness or the practice of proper hand hygiene, and ‘D’ is for distance or standing at least 6 feet away from other people.”

“Covid-19 isn’t going away anytime soon,” adds Rosas. “Schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. One or two hours of your time can have a big impact on your health in the years to come.”

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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