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Doctors, nurses urge people not to delay medical care during pandemic

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Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 9:11 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The coronavirus pandemic has caused many people to cancel medical appointments due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

However, doctors and nurses at Trident Medical Center urge people to seek medical care if they are having health issues.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states last summer about 41 percent of Americans delayed medical care during the pandemic. While many offices have reopened and the spread of COVID-19 isn’t as rampant some people are still holding off.

Trident ICU Registered Nurse and mom Stephanie Skal says it’s important to listen to your body after she underwent emergency brain surgery.

“I was starting to see stars, I had ringing in my ears, but every day I would just kind of think well that could have been nothing because it would come and go,” Skal said. “I had some pain and pressure at the base of my skull and then eventually I started having like a numbness and tingling down my arms, and I kind of started to lose some dexterity in my dominant hand.”

Skal says nearly nine years ago she was diagnosed with chronic migraines. She says she didn’t think much of her increased symptoms until they worsened, causing her to get checked out. She went in for an MRI last September and was diagnosed with Chiari malformation. It’s when brain tissue extends into your spinal canal.

“It was in the middle of the COVID pandemic and we were just in here trying to work we had just enough staff to cover the patients that we had,” Skal said. “I was trying my hardest. I’ve got to come to work and do my best.”

Trident Medical Center’s Director of Supervascular Neurosurgery Douglas Stofko encourages people to seek medical care. He says delaying care can cause more problems in the future.

“If you’re having symptoms of any type, not just stroke related or brain related, don’t delay care and be scared to come to the hospital because of COVID,” Stofko. “All of the precautions are being taken, it’s a safe place. A lot of different pathologies or problems that you have in your body to treat them correctly is time dependent. So delayed care is typically not a benefit.”

Skal says her symptoms have went away and she hasn’t had any migraines since her surgery. She was told that if she wasn’t treated, she could have started blacking out. Skal returned to work to care for her ICU patients three months after her surgery.

“Dr. Stofko was the one who after years of me having these symptoms actually got to the bottom of the issue, and he saved my life,” Skal said.

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