In-person medical visits waning because of COVID-19 safety concerns

Suzanne Elliott, The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.
·2 min read

Feb. 24—MORGANTOWN — Morgantown's two largest health care providers — WVU Medicine and Mon Health — said people should not be afraid to seek medical treatment because of the pandemic.

"If you have a chronic condition, don't put off your care, " said Dr. Michael Edmond, WVU Medicine's chief medical officer.

During the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak nearly a year ago, elective surgeries were postponed and the number of tele-health visits increased. Now with the number of COVID-19 cases declining for the 36th straight day and the number of positive cases of the virus dipping under 9, 000 for the first time since Nov. 12, local health care providers reiterated that it is safe to receive in-person medical treatment.

"It's hard not to put off treatment from what you hear on television, " said Edmond, who also blamed the recent bad weather for the decline in patient visits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four in 10 adults delayed medical care, including urgent and routine visits, because of the novel coronavirus. And the delays may mean more illness and possibly death down the road.

WVU Medicine and Mon Health screen patients and employees for the virus to ensure safety and virus prevention. Plus, employees of the health facilities have been vaccinated for the virus.

Mark Gilliam, chief administrative officer for Mon Health, said the only real department they've seen a decline is with emergency room visits.

"But, that seems to be a consistent theme nationwide, " said Gilliam, adding the health system's patient visits have been consistent and its surgery volume is increasing.

"We have been very consistent screening employers and visitors, " he said.

Other precautions include separate waiting areas, masks, frequent cleaning and disinfecting, and social distancing.