Local CHI Health officials said Thursday they are concerned that some patients, especially those with cardiac issues, may be forgoing needed care because of fears over COVID-19.
Specifically, they said emergency visits to Nebraska Heart in Lincoln are down about 15-20% since the pandemic started.
The hospital also reported that more than 1,200 scheduled appointments have been canceled and nearly 100 cardiac and vascular procedures have been delayed. About 800 patients have been seen via telehealth.
"We know concerning heart events are continuing to happen in our communities,” said CHI Health Nebraska Heart President Derek Vance. “Our fear is that patients are putting off care and in turn, putting themselves at a greater risk. We can’t stress enough the importance of coming to the hospital when you’re experiencing serious symptoms or complications."
Vance noted that while Nebraska Heart had been designated as a potential site to care for COVID-19 patients in the event of a high number of cases, that hasn't been needed, so people coming to the facility should not be worried about exposure to the disease.
Dr. Anuradha Tunuguntla, an interventional cardiologist, said people who are having a heart attack or stroke, even a minor one, can cause permanent damage to their bodies by delaying care.
"We're now seeing complications that we haven't seen in years" because of delayed care, Tunuguntla said.
Bryan Health officials said they have not seen a similar trend.
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