Doctors concerned that patients in need are avoiding hospitals in fear of COVID-19

Posted at 11:44 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 23:44:38-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- While non-emergency surgeries and dental procedures resumed Friday in Virginia, some VCU Health doctors believe people are scared to come to the hospital in fear of getting the COVID-19 virus.

“We’re really worried that patients are staying at home rather than seeking medical care," Dr. Michael Kontos, Professor of Cardiology at VCU Medical Center, said.

Dr. Michael Kontos has been battling COVID-19 on the front lines at VCU Medical Center since the start of the outbreak.

“I work in cardiology and primarily in the cardiac and intensive care unit," Dr. Kontos said.

Kontos said the hospital has seen a decrease in the number or non-covid patients since the stay at home orders were put in place.

“At least in our center, we’ve seen about a 20 to 30 percent decrease in our patient presenting with heart attacks," Kontos said.

A poll released Wednesday by the American College of Emergency Physicians and morning Consult shows that80 percent of adults surveyed worry about catching the virus while visiting a hospital.

“We really think patients are staying at home and either self-treating or ignoring their symptoms that are related to a heart attack." Kontos added.

Since the ban was lifted, Kontos said VCU Health is taking steps to help patients feel safe during their visits.

“We’re doing much more screening than when we did before," Kontos said. "All patients coming in for surgery are going to be screened both with a questionnaire and as well undergoing coronavirus testing.”

VCU Health is now performing surgeries for patients with cancer, infections and brain conditions, procedures that had been delayed because of the coronavirus. Kontos saif that they’re also monitoring data daily in Virginia to prevent another outbreak.

“We want to make sure we don’t have a second surge as a result of decreased restrictions that are occurring," Kontos said.

He’s encouraging those in need of medical care, who have been staying away from the hospital to come in for help.

“The hospitals have put a lot of safety measures in place to protect you from infection," Kontos said. "A hospital is the best place to be if you’re having a serious illness such as a heart attack or stroke.”