‘COVID fear’ is keeping Coloradans away from important health checkups

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — The pandemic is pushing more people away from getting their routine health exams and checkups and doctors are concerned it could lead to an epidemic of its own.

From mammograms to colonoscopies, health officials in Colorado say people are skipping out on their appointments out of concern they will contract COVID-19 by visiting a doctor’s office or a hospital.

“I have not missed a mammogram in 25 years,” said Suzi McCumber of Littleton.

McCumber didn’t let the pandemic scare her away from annual checkup at UCHealth’s Highlands Ranch Hospital.

“There are no words to describe how grateful I am,” she said.

McCumber is grateful because doctors discovered she had breast cancer during that screening. They said it was a subtle find that was extremely aggressive.

“Had I not gone I never would’ve known. I had no symptoms at all,” McCumber said.

Since her diagnosis, McCumber has gone through chemotherapy and radiation successfully. Fear didn’t hold her back.

“She is the poster child for what she’s been doing,” said Dr. Radhika Acharya-Leon, a medical oncologist at UCHealth.

Acharya-Leon is McCumber’s doctor. She said McCumber should serve as an example for others who find themselves timid to return for exams, check-ups or even appointments.

“I think the biggest concern is they’re going to delay their screening and then be diagnosed at a later stage. And when that occurs they require more treatment or it becomes less curable. And their outlook and survival would be impacted,” Dr. Acharya-Leon said.

Medical officials want to stress: hospitals are safe places to visit right now.

They add, delaying an appointment could be detrimental down the road for patients.

“There’s nothing to fear here at the hospitals, they have everything covered,” McCumber said.

If you are concerned about in-person visits, UCHealth wants to remind people about its tele-health services where you can meet and talk with a doctor over video chat.

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