MCKINNEY, TX - Amidst, and following, “stay-at-home” orders put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, there has been a dangerous spike in patients delaying care and arriving at the hospital critically ill.
“People should not be delaying health care that’s needed,” says Dr. Jeff Kerr, Chief Medical Officer at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – McKinney. “We’ve done the work to make the hospital a safe environment for everybody.”
“The reality is that when people delay care they are putting their lives at risk,” says Dr. Kerr. “People who have waited to come in need a much higher level of care than if they had taken action at the onset of their symptoms.”
Dr. Kerr gives a few examples: “Patients who were diagnosed in late February or early March with breast cancer have been waiting to have tumors removed. Others have come in with very serious abdominal conditions, including a ruptured appendix and a perforated colon. We have even seen patients arrive with congestive heart failure and significant pulmonary conditions.”
Delaying care on these life-threatening conditions is leading to longer hospital stays, complications and poorer outcomes.
“Heart attacks are still happening, aneurysms are still happening and people are delaying care to the point where we are not able to have as good of outcomes as we normally do,” Dr. Kerr says. “In some cases they may be debilitated … whereas if they came in earlier they would have had a full recovery.”
In the case of stroke, it can be difficult to identify and know when to call 9-1-1. Baylor Scott & White urges you to use the acronym BE FAST, as advised by the American Stroke Association.
B: Balance, sudden dizziness or loss of balance.
E: Eyes, sudden loss or changes in vision in one or both eyes.
F: Face drooping. Ask the person to smile, is their smile lopsided?
A: Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downwards?
S: Speech slurred. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is the person unable to speak, or hard to understand?
T: Time to call 911. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 911.
Meanwhile, over the last 2 months, an average of 90 percent of the hospital care provided at Baylor Scott & White hospitals has been to treat non-COVID related illnesses. This includes urologic procedures, appendectomies and gall bladder surgeries. There have even been over 4,000 babies delivered across the Baylor Scott & White service area—including seven sets of twins! And, remarkably, over 40 patients received new organs thanks to the Baylor Scott & White transplant teams continuing to provide safe care.
With new safety measures, Baylor Scott & White – McKinney is able to continue to provide quality care without the risk of infection from COVID-19.
“Delaying treatment or trying to treat yourself at home could put you in serious danger,” Dr. Kerr reiterates. “As we navigate new challenges together, we are proud to have created a COVID-19 Safe Care environment and we urge our patients to come see us ... that’s the only way we can take care of you.”