Non-COVID Concerns: When To Go To A Hospital, And How To Safely Consult With A Doctor

With COVID cases still surging, many are reluctant to go to medical centers. But there are still options for those who have health concerns apart from the virus.

Coronavirus cases in the country continue to surge with 28 Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in Metro Manila hospitals already considered “high-risk, and beds limited. This means 70 to 85 percent (or 7 out of 10) beds are occupied, with many medical professionals bracing for even higher numbers in these early weeks of April. These reports, however, should not deter those with health concerns apart from COVID to head for the medical center nearest them.

But how would you know which health concerns require immediate attention? And what can you do to safely seek medical help in the middle of a pandemic?

ALSO READ: Beating COVID: 6 Countries That Are Back To Normal, Or Almost There

(Photo from Mat Napo)

In-person appointments

Emergency cases

In some instances, an in-person trip to hospitals is inevitable. This includes high fever, major injury or trauma like heavy bleeding and possible broken bones, symptoms of stroke, chest pain or shortness of breath, and sudden weakness or numbness in parts of or the entire body. In these cases, heading for a hospital is an imperative.

Urgent tests

In certain emergency cases, doctors will prescribe tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood work, and biopsies. You can clarify with the doctor first if you can postpone tests but if these should be done as soon as possible, simply follow through with their advice. Sometimes, CT scans and biopsies are urgently needed to check if a certain mass in the body is cancerous, and requires treatment right away.

(Photo from Marco Leal)

Elective surgeries

This type of surgery covers non-life-threatening operations that need not necessarily done right away. However, this doesn’t mean elective surgeries are not crucial. Apart from cosmetic procedures, it can include serious conditions such as removal of appendix or kidney stones, hip replacement, hernia surgery, and eye operations for cataracts.

For breast cancer patients, mastectomy is a crucial surgery. It can be delayed but only based on the direction of your surgeon and oncologist. Even treatments like chemotherapy can sometimes be postponed due to costs and scheduling issues. However, it is crucial to note delaying can negatively affect the 10-year disease-free survival rate.

Childhood immunization

In May 2020, the World Health Organization reported 53 percent of 129 countries have shown moderate to severe disruptions on their vaccination services. This includes routine childhood immunization against diseases like polio and measles. In the country, two million Filipino children are estimated to miss out on vaccines as the COVID-19 outbreak worsens.

Factors for delaying the immunization range from fear of COVID-19 exposure, movement restrictions given the lockdowns, to the unavailability of health workers and protective equipment. However, Unicef Philippines encourage parents to keep their children inoculated amid the pandemic. The vaccines protect them from common diseases and possible death at an early age.

ALSO READ: Please, Don’t Be Foolish During A Pandemic

(Photo from Security Roundtable)

Telemedicine

The Department of Health launched the first telemedicine initiative in Quezon City, while Makati and Taguig continue their existing programs. During the video call session, the doctor stores your medical record that can be transmitted to other facilities, especially in cases requiring on-site check-ups.

Typical services in telemedicine include physical therapy (demonstrating online techniques and fitness videos), consultations on possible surgeries, quick physical check-ups for an injury or allergic reactions, and even post-operation follow-up.

What makes telemedicine more convenient is you can receive medical prescriptions and official lab results through email or messaging apps like Viber. Even those residing in far-flung areas can speak their doctors.

Depending on the severity of your health condition, you may still need physical clinic visits. Telemedicine only complements in-person consultations as Medifi CEO Jay Fajardo says. As of last month, the telehealth platform served 37,000 patients in a year of operating.

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