We’ve heard over and over on the news that Alberta has done well. We’ve flattened the curve. The deaths are fewer in number than expected. Yet the true numbers regarding the CoVID toll on lives has yet to be determined. I’m not talking about those who had CoVID and died, or those who had CoVID and recovered but with worsening health conditions as a result of the infection. I’m talking about the deaths that result from CoVID without an infection: for example, the suicides or the heart attacks that didn’t go to the Emerg from fear of infection.
According to a Global News Story, data compiled by Heart and Stroke and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society found that visits to Ontario emergency departments for heart attacks dropped nearly 30 per cent from March 16 to April 12, compared to the same period a year earlier (https://www.google.ca/amp/s/globalnews.ca/news/6889399/heart-attack-emergency-room-coronavirus/amp/).
Delays in seeking care for acute medical concerns can lead to negative health outcomes. But even now, patients I see in the Emerg still apologize for coming in the first place. Patients with chest pain often call the clinic and at times need convincing to seek care in an ER. Pandemic or not, patients should never feel “bad” for seeking care. They may, at times, benefit from some education but should never feel like their concerns are a waste of time. The fear of CoVID and the focus on not overwhelming the health care system kept many at bay.
The virtual visits have certainly helped physicians manage their chronic care patients. Emergencies, however, continue to arise even during a pandemic. It’ll be enlightening to get the numbers when all this wraps up, of the lives lost due to CoVID, from primary infections to secondary harm. If you’re seriously ill, seek care. Hospitals and clinics have infection-control prevention strategies in place to reduce risks of infection. Coronavirus is far from gone and your health matters. If you require in-person care, ask. Go. Your life, or that of a loved one, may depend on it.