Postponing Checkups Puts People at Risk
July 19, 2022
After more than two years impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, TexomaCare Obstetrician/Gynecologist E. Levon Eastin, MD, FACOG, is concerned that many people have put off preventive healthcare appointments.
“As a medical professional, I can’t help but wonder how many crucial diagnoses we missed in the past couple of years,” he says. “Everything shut down after the pandemic, but there are still a lot of people not coming in for important checkups and exams.”
According to Dr. Eastin, some of the preventive care appointments hit the hardest by the pandemic were routine visits, pap smears and cardiology tests. “The reduced numbers in mammograms the past year especially worry me,” he says. “About one in 125 mammograms detect breast cancer, so the longer people aren’t coming for exams, the more women there are with breast cancer who don’t even realize it.”
Other preventive measures that Dr. Eastin says are seeing a dip are the measles vaccine and tests for sexually transmitted diseases and infections. “The CDC revealed that in 2020, they conducted 670,000 fewer HIV screenings and made 4,900 fewer HIV diagnoses than in 2019,” he says. “Much like with the women not tested for breast cancer, this suggests there could be a very large number of people who contracted HIV this year and may be unknowingly spreading it.”
While the reduced number of yearly medical exams is troubling, the good news is that Texoma Medical Center is fully equipped and prepared for patients. “Ambulatory centers are going 24/7 again, as are many services that were put on hold at the start of the pandemic,” Dr. Eastin says. “We’re ready to provide people with the diagnostic and preventive care they need, but it’s up to them to take the first step and make the appointments.”