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Preventative care important as COVID-19 cases rise

GREENFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — As the COVID-19 cases rise in Indiana, doctors are encouraging people to keep up their preventative care appointments, annual screenings and to get their kids vaccinated.

In Hancock County, doctors said a lot of those people who missed their preventative care checkups when the pandemic started, never rescheduled them. Now, physicians across the state are emphasizing that despite the coronavirus, people should go to the doctor.

“We are seeing right now that people are canceling appointments right and left as we see the COVID surge,” said Dr. Julia Compton.

That’s not what health experts like Dr. Compton want. She’s the president of Hancock Physician Network and a radiational oncologist. She treats cancer patients and is worried about the number of people currently getting preventative screenings.

“I think what has inadvertently happened is people’s fears of COVID has led to them putting off the preventative measures,” said Dr. Compton.

Since the pandemic started, she said not enough people in Greenfield are coming in to get screened for diseases. The backlog of appointments from the missed months during the spring was never fully made up.

“We saw a little bit of that, but not statistically where it should have been,” said Compton. “So what that means is likely people canceled their preventative screenings, mammograms, colonoscopies, etcetera and they haven’t put them back on the schedule.”

In Indianapolis, doctors at Community Health Network and IU Health said their patients have returned to pre-COVID-19 numbers. That means people are being screened for cancer, heart disease, getting physicals and taking their kids to wellness appointments. However, with another surge of coronavirus, they don’t want preventative care to once again slow down.

“We have to make sure we take care of ourselves and our children and keep ourselves as healthy as possible. And one of those things is to make sure we get our routine care, both dental and mental healthcare and our physical care,” said Dr. Sarah Bosslet.

Dr. Bosslet is the director of Primary Care at Riley Hospital for Children. She said children’s vaccines, including the flu shot, shouldn’t be skipped.

“While COVID-19 has put a lot of things on hold and stopped a lot of things, our children are still growing and developing and so their needs for well-care and screenings and shots continue,” said Dr. Bosslet.

Both doctors said the hospitals and healthcare facilities are safe. They have massive COVID-19 precautions in place, including limiting visitors to facilities and requiring everyone wears masks.

Therefore, while people should be cautious about this health crisis, they shouldn’t create another personal health crisis in the process.

“Keep your appointments. Keep your screening processes going. Because at the end of the day we will all get through COVID, we will. But, what we want is that people are able to continue their lives, they stay healthy 10-15 years in the future, and that is what the preventative piece does,” said Dr. Compton.

Doctors also encourage everyone to get their flu shot, in an effort to help keep hospital capacities low during the pandemic and flu season.