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Hospitals see impact on patient visits amid COVID-19 fears

Dr. Kevin Casey with Mercy Health says this could lead to some serious health issues.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Fears of contracting COVID-19 are having a significant impact on health care visits. 

Right now, few people are visiting the doctor to be screened for cancer and other illnesses. 

However, Mercy Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Kevin Casey says you should think twice before neglecting your health. 

"We know that COVID doesn't respect cancer. COVID has not eliminated cancer whats so ever," Casey said. 

Casey says the hospital first began to see a big dip inpatient visits following COVID-19. 

"What we're finding is that those that are coming back are sicker. Very likely because they been delaying the care, delaying the treatments. We have stories of people who have had heart attacks and did not come to the emergency department, strokes and would not come," Casey said. 

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However, Susan G. Komen of Northwest Ohio Executive Director Mary Westphal says now is not the time to delay these visits. 

"During the COVID crisis one of the things we're realizing is that women are not taking care of themselves in the way they use to," Westphal said. 

Especially with diseases that can be prevented or treated. 

"People should know that early detection really does make a difference. Today, we know that 98% of women who are diagnosed at the earliest possible stages with breast cancer can survive this at the 5-year point," Westphal said. 

But for those who wait too long, the consequences can be much different. 

"Just imagine ignoring cancer, fighting it when it's at a later stage, and then maybe possibly also getting COVID at that time. It's just too much for your body to deal with efficiently," Casey said. 

Casey says hospitals have years of experience with viruses and they're taking every precaution to keep you safe. 

Some of those precautions include extra sanitation which hospitals say they were already doing, having everyone wear a mask, and also having your temperature checked as soon as you walk in the door.

But if you have questions or need any type of assistance, Westphal says you should reach out. 

"There are 2 million breast cancer survivors alive today in the United State and we know that that's because of the good work being done by many breast cancer organizations including Komen who are helping to save lives," Westphal said. 

For help from Susan G. Komen of Northwest Ohio, you can call 419-724-2873.