Delaying Elective Procedures Could Pose Long-Term Community Health Risks

Nov 13, 2020

Given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, many area hospitals have had to delay or cancel elective procedures.
Credit Photo provided courtesy of Goshen Health

As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise, many area hospitals have had to delay or cancel elective procedures, which could have a negative long-term impact on community health.

Goshen Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dan Nafziger said the term “elective” is misleading. Anything from cancer screenings to cardiac surgeries can fall into that category.

“When people say elective, what they’re really saying is urgent and important procedures,” he said. "So it's kind of unfortunate that that's the language that people have been using."

 

Nafziger said those procedures can be put off for a week, or maybe even a few months, but that delay doesn’t come without consequences. 

For example, after the first COVID surge in the spring, Nafziger said he saw several diabetes patients that needed amputations — an extreme and likely preventable measure.

“When they weren’t taking care of their diabetes, their foot problems got worse and worse until they really just couldn’t stay away any longer,” Nafziger said.

He said delaying care for strokes, heart attacks and even joint replacements can leave community members with lifelong disabilities. In order to avoid that impact, he said the community must reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“I would encourage people not to create additional problems for our elected officials as they attempt to respond to the challenges that hospitals and health systems are facing,” Nafziger said.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo

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