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Health at Home: How the impacts of COVID-19 spread far beyond the people infected

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(WBNG) -- While attention was focused on fighting the coronavirus over the past year, 12 News has found some impacts fell through the cracks.

Doctors and nurses from UHS, Guthrie and Lourdes told 12 News the effects of COVID-19 extend far wider than just the lives of the patients infected.

Dr. Jagraj Rai, President of Lourdes' Medical Group, said 40% of adults avoided medical care over the past year, largely out of fear of contracting the virus. He added it's expected 10,000 additional breast cancer cases will be discovered this year because of the number of women who didn't get mammograms during the pandemic.

Others said working through COVID led to a heavy mental toll on frontline workers; Dr. Amine Hila, a gastroenterologist at UHS, said there was a lot of fear among medical staff, especially at the beginning of the pandemic when so many questions went unanswered.

Dr. Hila told 12 News he fears the death toll of the pandemic is higher than previously thought.

"My concern was more for people specifically avoiding [the ER], having severe symptoms that normally would take them to the ER and avoiding going to the ER, I think that was the biggest harm," Hila said. "People may have had some chest pain and normally they'd say, 'oh my god maybe I'm having a heart attack' and go to the ER and avoided going."

Medical staff at Guthrie told 12 News it was difficult for many of their patients when visitors were limited inside the clinics and hospitals; they said having a strong support system, especially with you, in-person, while receiving treatment, can make a big difference in outcomes for the patient.

Doctors said telemedicine will likely continue to play a big role in healthcare moving forward, and the need to collaborate during the pandemic has led to increased cooperation.

Josh Rosenblatt

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