There is a growing concern people are jeopardizing their health by delaying care for ailments and elective surgeries.
Emergency rooms across the nation — including Manteca — are experiencing substantial drop-offs in emergency room visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time cases of mild heart attacks and strokes — two things that need immediate medical attention to reduce the potential of life-long health impacts — have plummeted
“If people are really sick and need care they shouldn’t be afraid of going to the hospital,” noted Dr. Murali Naidu, chief executive officer for Doctors Hospital of Manteca.
Naidu added that the risk of delaying care for some afflictions and illness can have serious consequences.
Concerns that hospitals are risky places to be during the COVID-19 pandemic are misplaced.
That’s because hospital personnel are experts in protocols critical to keeping viruses and such in check. Even if supermarkets and other places are fanatic about deep cleaning, sanitizing, and the use of personal protection equipment they don’t come close to the level of expertise or rigid preventative measures in hospitals.
Doctors Hospital has separated the area where COVID-19 patients are cared for from the rest of the patients.
The rigorous procedures in the emergency room keep all patients safe. A pop-up tent has been added to make sure that happens.
“We screen everyone that comes in and if there is even a slight suggestion of COVID-19 we isolate people right away,” Naidu explained.
The hospital has a tight control on visitors and constantly disinfects critical touching points. Employees are screened every day for fever. They are trained — as well as receive continuing education — in infectious diseases.
“It is important to know a lot of time and effort goes into making hospitals safe.” Naidu said.
Naidu added that not only does Tenet Healthcare adhere to best practices but so do all of the other area hospitals such as Kaiser Manteca that he has been in contact with during the unfolding pandemic emergency.
At the same time San Joaquin County’s hospitals — including Doctors Hospital of Manteca — has more than adequate set aside capacity of handling potential COVID-19 patients.
As of Monday at 5 p.m. there were 23 COVID-19 patients at the seven hospitals in San Joaquin County. Experts who made the model the county based its protocols on projected with social distancing daily hospital admissions will peak at 299 on May 30, just 11 days from now. In all of last week there were only seven new hospital admissions bringing the running total that have been hospitalized at one point since the start of March in San Joaquin County to 159. That translates to 1 admission per day as opposed to the 299 one-day hospital admission project for the peak on May 30. The curve the county was striving to flatten has been flattened based on daily statistics since mid-April.
While the state initially barred “non-essential surgeries” that included a host of medical issues such as hernias and mastectomies to free up health care personnel and hospital space to handle projected surges of COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization that did not occur in San Joaquin County, that ban has been lifted for close to a month.
The expected return to previous levels of what are in most cases out-patient surgical procedures has not occurred. That has set up two potentially serious health care concerns being expressed nationally by medical experts as well as Naidu who is a laparoscopic surgeon who practiced for more than 10 years prior to his full-time healthcare leadership roles.
First is the continued delay of getting surgery — depending upon the malady — could lead to a further deterioration of heath and create additional quality of life issues.
The other is the delay of the resumption of elective surgery as each week passes is creating a big backlog that will ultimately force prioritizing who gets surgery in a timely manner.
“The longer you wait it will create a backup like you experience on the Altamont Pass” Naidu said.
Doctors Hospital of Manteca has an off-campus out-patient surgical center that follows rigid protocols to protect patients and medical staff as are in place at a hospital.
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