New health crisis looms as non-COVID patients delay care

UNTV News   •   July 14, 2020   •   268

A Texas man who waited until his brain tumor was softball-sized; a California patient who delayed going to the emergency room and had a heart attack and a woman who lost 35 pounds before seeking treatment and whose cancer was much more advanced as a result: the resurgence of COVID-19 is creating another health crisis as hospitals fill and patients are fearful or unable to get non-emergency care.

With U.S. coronavirus infections reaching new heights, doctors and hospitals say they are also seeing sharp declines in patients seeking routine medical care and screenings – and a rise in those who have delayed care for so long they are far sicker than they otherwise would be.

“We’re definitely seeing in the emergency room patients who have delayed their care, delayed their treatment or delayed screening. So, for example, the other day there is somebody who had had symptoms a few days prior and didn’t want to tell their loved one because they were afraid they were going to make them go to the hospital or call a doctor,” said Dr. Lynn Jeffers, chief medical officer at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, California.

After the pandemic was declared a national emergency in March, many states banned non-essential medical procedures, and the number of patients seeking care for other ailments took a nosedive. Hospitals and medical practices were hit hard financially.

Emergency department use dropped by 42% during the first 10 weeks of the pandemic despite a rise in patients presenting with symptoms of the coronavirus, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. In the same period, patients seeking care for heart attacks dropped by 23% and stroke care by 20%.

Austin oncologist Dr. Debra Patt said she expects mortality rates from cancer to skyrocket in the years after the pandemic because patients have delayed their care.

Patt in recent days treated a man who waited to come in for headaches and dizziness until he had lost 35 pounds and had a softball-sized tumor in his head.

She also said screening mammograms are down by 90% in Austin, where she specializes in breast cancer and serves as executive vice president of Texas Oncology. That means some tumors will be missed, and women who develop aggressive cancers might not know about it until the disease is more advanced and more likely to be deadly.

Patt’s patient Helen Knost had to put off surgery for breast cancer in early spring because it was considered non-emergency in Texas and barred at the time, and she was treated instead with the medication Tamoxifen.

“It’s a very strange thing, having cancer in you and just hanging out with cancer, just knowing that it’s there, ” said Knost, who did ultimately undergo successful surgery and will start radiation treatment in July.

“COVID doesn’t know the difference in your heart, doesn’t know the difference. And we’re encouraging people not to delay their care,” said Jeffers.

“COVID isn’t going away. And so we are going to have to start living our lives understanding that this is going to be a part of it and how we’re all going to adjust,” she said. (Reuters)

(Production: Jane Ross, Sandra Stojanovic)

Provincial buses sa PITX, hindi bumiyahe sa kabila ng pagbubukas ng mga ruta

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Hindi pumasada ang ilang provincial bus units na naka-terminal sa Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) kahit binuksan na ng Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ang 12 ruta para sa mga pampasaherong bus.

Ayon sa Provincial Bus Operators Association, nakikipag-pulong pa sila sa LTFRB at sa terminal operators dahil sa anila’y hindi pa malinaw na sistema, partikular na sa bayan ng Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

Ayon kay Alex Yague, ang pinuno ng grupo, nagbago ng mga kondisyon ang lokal na pamahalaan ng Sta. Cruz hinggil sa pagbiyahe ng mga pampasaherong bus kaya’t kailangan pa itong muling pag-usapan, partikular na ang isyu sa hatian ng 150 pasahero na papayagang pumasok sa loob ng isang araw.

Nais ring klaruhin ng provincial bus operators ang pag-oobliga sa kanilang mga unit na dumaan sa Skyway at NAIA Expressway upang makarating sa PITX.

Ayon kay Yague, panibagong gastusin ito para sa mga operator gayong limitado lang ang maaari nilang isakay na pasahero.

“As of today, hindi pa handa. Kapag na-klaro na yung tungkol sa pasahero, yung requirements ng travel pass at magkakaroon ng unawaan sa Central termjnal management within the next fee day, ma-iron out natin ang problema,” ang wika ni Yague.

Sa panig naman ng PITX, tiniyak ng pamunuan nito na handa ang terminal sakaling bumiyahe na ang provincial buses.

“Kami po ay handa, ready po kami tumanggap ngunit nakikipag-ugnayan pa rin tayo dito sa mga bus operators upang siguraduhin kung ano yung mga kinakailangan sa pagbiyahe dito,” ang pahayag ni Jayson Salvador, ang manager ng PITX.

Sinabi rin ni Salvador na makikipag-ugnayan sila sa National Capital Region Police Office para sa pagtatalaga ng mga pulis sa terminal para sa mas madaling proseso ng pagkuha ng travel pass ng mga pasahero. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)

PUV drivers, establishment workers and vendors in Manila to get free swab testing

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers, market vendors and employees of various establishments in the Philippine capital will be provided with free RT-PCR tests, the Manila City government said Wednesday.

In a statement, the city’s public information office said Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso issued the order which will cover employees of malls, hotels, restaurants and supermarkets, and vendors in public markets as well as drivers of e-trikes, pedicabs, tricycles, jeepneys and buses operating in the city.

Under Domagoso’s Executive Order No. 39, the Manila Health Department was tasked to provide free swab tests to said workers.

The order follows the launch of Sta. Ana Hospital’s second molecular laboratory, which has the capacity to process around 1,000 tests daily. The additional laboratory will raise the hospital’s test processing capacity to 30,000 a month.

“The real threat of COVID-19 will continue to persist in our community, thereby sending fear to every person of getting infected with it. This fear will affect not only the individual preferences and behavior or every person, but also the economic growth (of the city),” Domagoso said.

“In order to allay the fear of getting infected with COVID-19, there is a need to assure the public that employees of these frequently visited establishments are COVID-19 free and thus spur economic activities,” he added.

Mayor Isko also directed the Manila Bureau of Permits and Licensing Office, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila, and the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau to “require establishments under their jurisdiction to require filling up mandatory health declaration forms for contact tracing purposes.”

Quezon City mayor cancels city hall parties, to donate funds

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

Parties for all offices under the Quezon City government during the holidays will no longer be held this year amid the continuing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said Tuesday.

A statement released on Tuesday said Belmonte has issued a memorandum directing all offices under the city hall to cancel parties scheduled in December and instead ordered them to donate the funds to underprivileged groups.

“The money that would have been spent on office Christmas parties would do more good as donations to the underprivileged during this extraordinarily difficult time in our nation’s history,” Belmonte said in a statement.

The local chief executive stressed that “it would be inappropriate for offices of the city government to hold customary Christmas parties while many of its citizens are experiencing hardships due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.”

Instead of holding parties, she urged city hall employees to adopt an underprivileged sector— such as the urban poor, displaced workers, jeepney drivers, street vendors, indigent children, and poor senior citizens— and to modestly celebrate the season in their homes.

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