Submitted by PeaceHealth

As Skagit County communities continue to focus on social distancing, handwashing and masking to flatten the curve, PeaceHealth United General Medical Center is beginning to plan for the future with a focus on safely returning to care and reopening services. While the medical center and clinics are not easing current practices related to safety and security that were implemented during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians and leaders at PeaceHealth United General are beginning to look ahead to recovery efforts and want to remind the public not to delay seeking important healthcare.

One outcome of the COVID-19 crisis is the shift in public perception about what constitutes necessary care. When combined with fear of contracting the virus, many people have chosen to delay or postpone routine, follow-up and emergency care with potentially harmful effects.

  • According to a statement by the American Hospital Association, there has been a drop in non-COVID-19 patients across the U.S.
  • While stay-at-home orders are a large contributing factor, there is a growing concern among the healthcare community that patients, even those with severe illnesses, are avoiding hospitals out of fear.
  • Delays in seeking or not seeking care can have a detrimental impact on patient health including: more severe clinical findings; poorer outcomes; and increased expenses related to postponing care.

PeaceHealth Medical Group physician, Morgan Merrill, MD, encourages the public to remain focused on their own health and wellness during the crisis. He urges people not to hesitate to seek the routine or critical/emergency care they may need either for themselves or their loved ones. “I am concerned about patients who are reluctant to seek medical care because they are unaware that we are open during this crisis and safely caring for our patients,” stated Merrill, “Our physician group continues to provide ongoing care, manage and treat chronic and acute illness and prescribe medications for our patients unrelated to the COVID-19 virus.” Visits may look different,  given social distancing requirements, and video visits provide options to traditional face-to-face visits which are still required for some patients.

Safety remains a top priority at the medical center for patients and caregiver employees and they continue to take the necessary precautions based on the most recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that any COVID-19 patients are not only cared for, but in safe and strict isolation away from general hospital areas.

PeaceHealth is aware that all health issues continue during a pandemic, and it is important to remember that clinics and hospitals are open for necessary appointments including recommended checkups, childhood immunizations, and emergent care including surgeries.  Over the coming weeks, more services – such as diagnostic imaging which opens on May 4, non-elective surgeries and sleep lab studies – will be included.

If you need care:

Unfortunately, delaying necessary care could cause long-term damage to a patient’s health. Merrill reminds the public to “Stay safe, and if you think you need care – don’t delay! We are here for you.”

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