MAGIC VALLEY, Idaho — At least 20% of Idahoans surveyed by the CDC reported missing or delaying regular doctor appointments within the past eight weeks.
Health officials with Saint Alphonsus and the American Heart Association say this has been an ongoing trend throughout the pandemic.
“We’re just seeing patients now for the first time after over a year and a half, two years almost. If they were supposed to have been for an annual follow-up last year last spring and then they skipped that so now they’re two years out, that means not having labs, not having their medicines renewed," said Dr. Steven Writer, a cardiologist with Saint Alphonsus.
Health officials say the survey shows how the pandemic is causing negative impacts on people's health.
Writer said the main reason he sees his patients skipping their regular check-ups is over fears of contracting COVID-19 while in a hospital or clinic.
“There’s a great fear, especially among my elderly patients, of just coming to a clinic or a hospital. They just thought they were supposed to quarantine. They didn’t want to get out of their house," Writer said.
But heath officials say skipping these appointments will only harm your health, especially if you contract COVID-19.
“Knowing your blood pressure is critically important. Knowing your A1C if you have diabetes is critically important. Knowing the warning signs of heart disease and strokes are all critically important and are often communicated directly through the physician," said Laura Western, executive director of the Idaho Division of the American Heart Association.
Officials encourage everyone who skipped their regular doctor appointments throughout the pandemic to get those back on the schedule.
Writer said they have been working throughout the pandemic to ensure everyone's safety and have COVID protocols in place to keep patients and staff protected.
“It's a real safe environment. We feel like we’re not going to be a risk for patients, and they just have to hopefully understand that we have a lot of safety built-in and confidence that they could come and not be in danger," Writer said.