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Hoover: Take control of your health; don’t put off screenings, seeking emergency care out of COVID-19 fear | COMMENTARY

One thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated to us all is the importance of our health. Whether you have a pre-existing condition, moderate health issue or no immediate health issue affecting your quality of life right now, it is never too late to take control of your health.

A growing body of research shows that many people are putting off their nonurgent medical care needs, such as vaccinations and cancer screenings. Even more alarming is the research that indicates individuals are not seeking care for critical medical needs like heart attack and stroke symptoms.

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At Carroll Hospital, we’ve seen a drop in patients with stroke symptoms compared to this time last year. And there’s been a notable decrease in medical oncology appointments. This is not unique to Carroll; hospitals across the nation have observed these disturbing statistics.

We do not think that people are having fewer strokes or stroke symptoms, nor do we think that the cancer rate has dropped. Instead, we believe that many people have delayed seeking care for fear of contracting COVID-19. This remains true today for those needing medical care at a hospital, provider’s office or any other clinical setting.

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Although we are still in the midst of a pandemic, Carroll Hospital, our affiliated services and providers, and many healthcare facilities across the county have implemented a variety of protocols to keep everyone healthy and safe in response to COVID-19. We all must remain vigilant in following these and other safety protocols per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations while also continuing to seek medical care for our preventative and urgent care needs. Your current and future health depends on it.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. According to the CDC, about 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year — that is one in every four deaths. Cancer is also a leading cause of death in the United States. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2020, roughly 1.8 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the country.

The numbers may be disheartening, but the good news is you can be an advocate for yourself and make your health a top priority. Early detection and intervention are key in improving treatment and survival of these health conditions.

That is why I strongly encourage everyone to seek medical treatment swiftly if they experience stroke or heart attack symptoms — regardless of how mild or severe. Please continue seeking preventative care such as getting yearly mammograms, cancer screenings and regular health checks with your doctor.

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If you need a primary care provider, visit physicians.carrollhospitalcenter.org or call Care Connect, our physician referral line, at 410-871-7000.

Take control of your health and take care of yourself during and beyond this COVID-19 pandemic.

Garrett W. Hoover, MA, MHA, FACHE, is the president & chief operating officer of Carroll Hospital and senior vice president of LifeBridge Health.

For any member of the community who would like to submit a guest community voices column for publication consideration, it should be approximately 700 words and sent to bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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