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Cardiac issues on the rise as people avoid hospitals, early care

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Posted at 4:42 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 23:12:49-04

CINCINNATI — Mercy Health West has seen a major uptick in the number of cardiac cases this month, and the connection to COVID-19 isn't what you would expect.

Michael Kramer, president of Mercy Health West, told WCPO the boom follows a 40% drop-off in patients going to the hospital at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, just as fears of the coronavirus set in. He said people were afraid of going to the hospital, delaying their care.

“May, the impact of the delay has started to show up. Through May 20, we've already seen more critical heart patients than any time in our history,” Kramer said.

Dr. Adam Raskin, an interventional cardiologist at Mercy Health West, has seen the devastating results of people waiting to seek medical care.

“We are seeing some deaths that we felt may or may not have been prevented if they presented a little sooner,” Raskin said.

It’s a big enough problem that a collaborative of the region’s six hospital systems backed a PSA reassuring people that getting medical care is safe. They want the public to know that COVID-19 cases, which are kept in their own areas of a hospital, are down.

Craig Brammer, the Health Collaborative CEO, said the entire region is averaging about 40 cases a day spread out over multiple locations.

“So, it's not a big number. The perception that hospitals are chock full of patients with COVID-19 is absolutely not the case,” Brammer said. “What we can't do is let it prohibit us from getting the medical care we need.”

Brammer is concerned about people ignoring heart conditions, kids' vaccines, cancer screenings and psychiatric matters. Especially when, according to Brammer, hospitals are probably some of the safest places to avoid COVID-19, in part because staffers are tested for the virus.

At Mercy Health West, signs remind people to social distance and dots on the floor do the same, your temperature is taken as soon as you walk in, masks are required and there's CDC level cleaning. They want you to consider it all before you allow a virus you haven't caught to harm or even kill you.

This isn't just a local story; it comes on the heels of a study that revealed many Americans are skipping important medical visits.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 48% of respondents said someone in their family has delayed getting medical care since the pandemic started, and 11% said that person's condition worsened as a result. For that survey, cost was also a big factor.