‘Collateral damage’: Wait times, cancellations hit health care outside of COVID-19

The coronavirus outbreak in Canada has led to an all-hands-on-deck scenario in health care, leaving some docto…

The coronavirus outbreak in Canada has led to an all-hands-on-deck scenario in health care, leaving some doctors worried about those who need other kinds of care.

The World Health Organization made it clear Monday that while COVID-19 has the spotlight, other “essential health services must continue.”

“Babies are still being born. Vaccines must still be delivered. People still need life-saving treatment for a range of other diseases,” the WHO said.

For COVID-19, the directions are clear: Canadians should stay home, self-monitor for symptoms, and self-isolate for 14 days if they’ve travelled outside of the country.

The measures are meant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep unnecessary pressure off an already overburdened health system.

But for those with health issues unrelated to COVID-19, it creates a complicated grey area.

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“I would say there’s a surge of people not seeking care because they think they can wait or they’re not sure. They’re being less likely to seek care for an issue that may end up being something serious,” said Ritika Goel, a family physician in Toronto.

“People are going to change their behaviour because of their fears around going into the health care system or not wanting to go to the emergency room. For some people, that will be the appropriate decision, but for other people that might be an inappropriate decision.”

General care and chronic pain

The barriers to care patients are facing right now are extensive,


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