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Huntsville nurse says primary care visits have decreased during coronavirus pandemic

“They’re not getting their medications, they’re not getting routine work ups, and so, they’re sitting at home getting much sicker," said an American Family Care nurse practitioner.

Posted: Sep 10, 2020 8:12 PM
Updated: Sep 10, 2020 10:24 PM

A new study shows what doctors told everyone they feared would happen during the coronavirus pandemic is coming true - patients are avoiding routine care because they are afraid of getting sick.

The study was done by the Health Care Cost Institute and shows childhood immunizations, mammograms, colonoscopies and some cancer screenings are all down.

WAAY 31 spoke with Julie Knop, nurse practitioner at American Family Care in Madison, about the importance of people getting their routine care. She says the number of patients they see daily fluctuates but the patients who need routine care oftentimes do not come in because they are scared of being exposed to coronavirus. 

The AFC is trying to ease peoples mind by having separate areas for people getting tested for coronavirus and people coming for primary care. 

“These patients are coming in and telling us, 'I’ve been out of my medication for two or three weeks and I’ve noticed my blood pressure is getting higher,' or 'my blood sugar is getting higher,' and the reason they were out is because they were scared to come in," said Knop.

She said because the AFC offers the rapid test for coronavirus, some patients with underlying health conditions are scared they might catch the virus if they come in for non-coronavirus appointments.

“They’re not getting their medications, they’re not getting routine work ups, and so, they’re sitting at home getting much sicker," said Knop. "Then they’re coming in and they’re severely ill, or their chronic conditions are out of control or unmanageable.”

Knop said the ones who are scared are often those who need a doctors continuous help and observation.

“The people with this fear, a lot of times they have a chronic health condition and those definitely require routine labs and follow-up with providers, additional testing and refills on their medications," Knop said.

She said it's important people know they are safe at doctors offices and to get the help they need.

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