LRH encourages public to maintain screenings

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
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Since March, over 400 people in Dickinson County have tested positive for COVID-19 and Lakes Regional Healthcare officials are concerned that fear of the virus has caused some people to not see their healthcare provider or to postpone their health screenings, which may result in other serious health concerns.

"COVID-19 is a serious issue, but one that should be considered relative to other health conditions a person may be even likelier to get," Lakes Regional Healthcare President and CEO Jason Harrington said.

According to the American Heart Association, Americans have a 1 in 2 chance of getting heart disease. They also have a 1 in 2 chance of getting cancer according to the American Cancer Society. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 1 in 7 Americans get influenza each year. Based on current national data, Americans have a 1 in 56 chance of getting COVID-19.

"It's important to stay on top of your health screenings and provider check-ups because getting other health conditions may not only compromise your health and immune system and make you more vulnerable to COVID-19 but also make it more difficult to recover from COVID-19 if you do get it," Lakes Regional Family Medicine physician Andrew Mueting said.

Data shows that roughly 3 percent of people nationwide that get COVID-19 pass away from the virus and about 1.8 percent of people in Iowa who get COVID-19 die with the virus. The state's website shows 89 percent of Iowans that pass away with COVID-19 are aged 61 and older. Furthermore, of those that die in Iowa with the virus, 70 percent of them had a pre-existing condition and 7 percent had no pre-existing condition.

"Although the likelihood of getting COVID-19 is not as high as getting other health conditions at this point, if you do get it, your chance of dying from it becomes 1 in 32," Mueting said. "Next to heart disease and cancer, COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in the United States. The bottom line is you need to take precautions from getting the virus, and that includes staying on top of other health conditions that may arise and make you more vulnerable to getting COVID-19."

Lakes Regional Healthcare has taken several steps to decrease the chances of getting COVID-19 on the hospital's campus, such as:

Screen every single person that comes in our doors for COVID-19 symptoms

Require every physician, staff member, patient, and visitor to wear a face mask

Require every staff member that works directly with patients to wear a face mask and goggles or a face shield

Disinfect equipment and other surfaces after each patient encounter

Use hand sanitizer before and after each patient encounter

Enforce social distancing as possible during patient appointments

Follow rigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocols facility-wide

In addition, Lakes Regional Healthcare encourages patients to take other steps to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19 while on their campus, including:

Practice social distancing in waiting rooms

Practice proper hygiene by washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

Use hand sanitizer before and after visit

Avoid touching communal surfaces, such as doorknobs and elevator buttons, as much as possible

Avoid touching face, eyes, nose and mouth

Do not come in if feeling sick or have a fever or cough (those experiencing these symptoms should call ahead prior to their appointment)

Regardless of the safety precautions to keep staff, patients, and visitors safe from the risks of COVID-19, some people have still been reluctant to come in for an appointment. As a result, providers from Lakes Regional Family Medicine have been seeing patients remotely through virtual visits since spring.

"Virtual visits allow you to see your provider regardless of your location," Mueting said. "Whether you're at home, at work, or even out of town, as long as you have an internet connection and smartphone, computer, or tablet, you can virtually visit your provider and receive most of the care you need. However, if we need to do a blood test or you're due for a mammogram or some other screening, it's important for you to come in person. Other serious health concerns won't wait until the pandemic ends, and you shouldn't, either."

To make an appointment with a family medicine provider, call 712-336-3750.

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