DHEC: “Now is the time to make sure you put your whole health first.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE:
March 30, 2021
COLUMBIA, S.C. – A year ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold across the country, the public was advised to stay home to limit the spread of this new disease. Today, because of the success of disease prevention methods and with effective COVID-19 vaccinations available, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) urges residents to catch-up on any missed health care appointments from the past year.
In June 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that four in 10 adults had avoided medical care appointments because of concerns related to COVID-19.
Delaying routine or annual health care checkups can impact individuals in different ways and can lead to undiagnosed health issues or a delay in treating preventable illness.
“While many health care providers worked to quickly implement and market virtual doctors’ visits as a reliable way to stay connected with their patients during the pandemic, data still shows a significant decrease in the number of people who stayed current with their health care visits,” said Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC’s COVID-19 Chief Medical Officer. “We encourage anyone, especially those with known health issues, to call their doctor and see if they’re overdue for a checkup.”
DHEC continues to provide updated guidance and share CDC guidance with health care professionals for implementing disease prevention methods that protect both patients and staff, including special considerations for dental offices.
“Now is the time to make sure you put your health first,” Dr. Kacka said. “Make an appointment if you’re overdue and prepare to follow your doctor’s new appointment procedures that are in place to help keep you safe.”
Important information to help keep you up to date with checkups
You should consider whether you’re up to date on things like routine screenings for cancer, such as breast, colon and skin cancer; mammograms and women’s health checkups; chronic disease checkups; wellness visits and immunizations for children; dental and eye exams; and sexual and reproductive health. Mental and emotional health visits are important, especially in light of the strains and stress of this pandemic, and any new symptoms or concerns should be brough to you doctor’s attention.
“Doctors’ offices and health care providers have procedures in place for limiting the amount of time patients spend physically inside the building, with many having you wait in your car instead of the waiting room,” Dr. Kacka said. “Additionally, health care providers ask patients screening questions before they enter a building, take temperatures, require masks, make hand sanitizer available and have other resources in place for preventing disease spread.”
While more than one million South Carolinians have begun their COVID-19 vaccine series, everyone is still encouraged to wear a mask in public, physically distance from others, refrain from large group settings, and continue routine testing.
For a list of health care services provided at DHEC health clinics, visit scdhec.gov or call the Care Line at 1-855-472-3432.
In addition, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health has made resources on managing anxiety and stress available on its webpage at scdmh.net. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call DMH’s statewide Community Crisis Response and Intervention line 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free, at (833) DMH-CCRI (833-364-2274). For those experiencing substance use issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a 24/7 support line available at 1-844-SC-HOPES.