“When medical care is delayed, complications arise and the treatments become more intensive as opposed to catching an illness in its early stage or managing a chronic condition to prevent poor outcomes,” says Dr. Phil Yphantides, medical director for Sharp Rees-Stealy Urgent Care Centers.
He notes that at the beginning of the pandemic, urgent care — along with the entire health care system — saw fewer patients as people stayed home to avoid potential exposure to the coronavirus. In addition to not coming in for acute illness, some people also delayed evaluation and treatment of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), heart failure and thyroid disease.
Dr. Yphantides and his staff have observed a variety of uncontrolled or serious illnesses coming through the urgent care doors resulting from patients putting off seeking care, including pneumonia, diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disease, heart failure and late-diagnosed heart attacks and strokes.
Dr. Yphantides points out that the consequences of delaying necessary care can be disastrous.
“For example, while an early pneumonia can be treated with an easy five-day course of antibiotics, more advanced pneumonia is life-threatening,” he says. “It can often require admission to the intensive care unit of a hospital for respiratory support, many days of IV antibiotics and a prolonged course of recovery that can last weeks to months.”
Meanwhile, uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension significantly increase risk for early heart attacks and strokes, causing life-altering illness or even death, which could have been easily avoided through simple control of these conditions with daily medication.
Dr. Yphantides sends a simple and direct message to patients: get treated today and avoid the consequences. It’s safe to do so, and much safer than going out to the grocery store, gas station or other public places, he notes.
“Safety is our number one priority and we've taken great precautions to ensure everyone's safety and comfort in our urgent cares,” he says.
The precautions taken to ensure patients and care teams remain safe include:
- Treating patients with COVID-19 symptoms in areas separate from other patients
- Providing special check-in procedures to reduce face-to-face interactions
- Health screenings at facility entrances for all patients, doctors and staff
- Free delivery and curbside pickup at Sharp Rees-Stealy Pharmacies
- Regular cleaning of facilities and equipment
Learn more about how you can access virtual and in-person care at Sharp.