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AU Health, UH say not to put off life-saving doctor visits in time of COVID-19

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 4:34 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - AU Health says they are having to cancel some elective surgeries, but their outpatient services are running at about 90 percent normal.

We get it -- those numbers are scary to think about, but a lot of people are looking at them and saying they’re not comfortable going to the hospital. Some are even putting off potentially life-saving surgeries.

Health officials want to remind everyone that just because there are people in the hospital with COVID-19 doesn’t mean you are in danger if you have to go to the hospital for something else.

AU is making room for COVID patients, but they’re not forgetting about everyone else.

“We haven’t had as significant a decrease in volume as we did back in the March or April timeframe,” AU Health chief medical officer Dr. Phillip Coule said.

Coule says that’s the good news, but there’s many opting out of other procedures like colonoscopies.

“Not finding out that you have colon cancer is not in your best interest, and it’s perfectly safe to get those procedures done right now,” Coule said.

“We tell folks to still do the right thing, listen to your body,” Dr. Mac Bowman, the medical director of cardiovascular practices at University Hospital, said. “Don’t ignore needs.”

Bowman says he’s seeing disturbing consequences

“Something that was stable or could’ve remained stable, not only made you at risk from that entity,” Bowman said.

But it puts you at more risk if you get COVID. Local hospitals are taking many precautions, including isolating COVID treatment areas and requiring masks. AU is testing everyone before surgery.

“Actually, the hospital is safer than a trip to the grocery store,” Coule said.

And yes, it’s safe to go to the emergency room if you need it, but canceling an appointment isn’t always a bad idea.

“In some cases, those are appropriate,” Coule said. “We evaluate every single case to make certain that we can provide the highest level of care.”

AU and University say talk to your doctor before making any cancellations. Some important appointments can be done through telemedicine if you aren’t comfortable.

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