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Video: Northland doctors concerned about health risks of delayed care

Mar 03, 2021 06:01AM ● By Editor

See the WDIO-TV Report here

Photo: WDIO-TV

From WDIO-TV - March 2, 2021

Twin Ports doctors are concerned about a trend they're seeing with putting off medical care. 

"The thing that I've been noticing is that the patients we've been seeing in our emergency department lately are in general sicker than they used to be," Dr. Andrea Boehland, an Essentia emergency medicine physician, said. "It seems that we in the emergency department are seeing patients later in their disease course than we used to." 

The two major providers, Essentia and St. Luke's, had a joint news conference Tuesday to let people know that hospitals and clinics are safe. They want patients to come in if they have health concerns or for regular checkups. 

"At Essentia in Duluth, our screening colonoscopies dropped from about 1,100 in 2019 to 750 in 2020. That's a 33% decline in one year," Dr. Jon Pryor, president of Essentia's East Market, said. 

That's a problem because he said cancer isn't going away, it's just going undetected and therefore, untreated. Dr. Boehland has seen it in the emergency room. 

"I've noticed personally that over the past few months in the emergency department, I as the emergency doctor have diagnosed more patients than usual with newly-discovered advanced metastatic cancer," she said. "These cases are gut-wrenching, and they're reminders that preventative care is incredibly important."

She said mammographies and colonoscopies save lives. 

She's also depression worsen and lead to suicide attempts and infections that could have been cleared up with antibiotics turn into sepsis and require a hospital stay. Dr. Gretchen Karstens, a pediatrician at St. Luke's, says parents should make it a point to keep kids' appointments too. 

"One other thing we've noticed in primary care is a significant drop in the rate of vaccination for children," Karstens said. "And as our vaccine rates in children decline, especially around vaccines like measles, we run the risk of having pandemics on top of pandemics." 

Both providers offer care over the phone or via video conference, potentially followed up by an in-person appointment. 

To watch the original report and see related stories, follow this link to the WDIO-TV website.

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