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Doctors see impacts of delayed medical care during the pandemic

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Posted at 4:04 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 19:50:33-05

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Since the start of the pandemic, many Americans have been putting off medical care.

According to two surveys funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one in three Americans say they have delayed or skipped medical care during the pandemic.

“We are definitely seeing people who have put off care and then end up seeing those patients in the ER or even in the hospital,” said Dr. Josh Kern, chief medical officer for St. Luke’s Magic Valley, Jerome and Wood River hospitals.

For some, following up with doctors to manage chronic conditions has fallen by the wayside as a result of high hospital volume and the fear of being exposed to COVID-19.

“I think the areas that we are seeing it the most is diabetes patients not having really followed up with their doctors around their diabetes, and seeing their diabetes being out of control and ending up in the ER,” said Kern.

Other conditions that often aren’t being managed include heart conditions.

“We saw a lot of heart failure patients in the hospital after the holidays. It kind of suggested that things hadn’t been managed quite as well as they could’ve been, and we’ve sensed that people have been putting off care,” said Kern.

Due to the backlog in COVID-19 cases, the community case numbers have improved more than the state website currently shows, according to Kern.

“This is a good time to start catching up on your chronic medical conditions and getting in, because we can probably fit you in in our clinics right now,” said Kern.

He encourages the community to stay on top of routine doctors visits and stay up to date with required screenings.