Miami Valley hospitals see effect of delayed preventative health care visits during pandemic

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – While COVID-19 hospitalizations are declining, Miami Valley hospitals are seeing an increase in patients for other causes. Health officials said some of these may have been prevented if the people didn’t delay regular appointments in the pandemic.

Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association President and CEO Sarah Hackenbracht said Miami Valley hospitals are seeing what could be the affect of people delaying health care over the pandemic.

“We are hearing anecdotally that we’re seeing an increase of heart attacks or stroke conditions, things of that nature, that tell us preventative care wasn’t taken care of over the previous year,” Hackenbracht said.

Provisional data released by the CDC this week shows an increase in deaths related to heart disease, stroke and diabetes and several other health conditions in 2020.

“Can those be prevented, absolutely, that’s what primary care does,” Premier Health Regional Medical Director Dr. Joseph Allen said.

Allen said many providers are bouncing back to pre-pandemic appointment levels.

Throughout the pandemic, health officials stressed the importance of keeping up with regular doctors visits.

Allen said delaying preventative care any further could cause long-lasting health issues.

“We did see a lot of things like diabetes get out of control, and out of control for a little while is not that big of a deal, we can get that back under control, but if that continues, that can cause ramifications downstream that are horrendous,” Allen said.

Hackenbracht said after a year telling everyone to stay home, health officials now are working to get patients back through their doors.

“We really have to return and ramp up those messages to the community because it is at a point where everyone needs to take their own personal health very seriously,” Hackenbracht said.

With COVID-19 restrictions lifted, hospitals in the Miami Valley are allowing more visitors for patients, but masks are still required following the CDC’s recomendations.

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