DEAR EDITOR:

It is safe for you to receive treatment at a hospital or health care facility, when you need it. If you don’t pick up anything else from reading this, please remember that. Whether you are injured or feeling sick, need to rehab an injury, or it’s time for your annual mammography, just know that you will be safe.

I’ve been an emergency room physician since 1990 and, as you can probably imagine, I’ve seen a lot in those 30 years. As an E.R. doctor, you see so much that it’s easy to become desensitized. Even still, I’ve never seen anything quite like we’ve experienced over the last few months.

I’m not just talking about COVID-19 itself. I’m also thinking about the idea that someone might be so fearful that they risk further harm by choosing not to seek treatment or diagnostic care when it’s needed.

That’s what keeps me up at night. The concern that anyone might need medical care but be too afraid to get it.

Given the amount of information that’s out there, much of it misleading, it’s no surprise there would be a level of anxiety. The risk of delaying care when you need it, though, should be much more of a concern.

The decision to stay home when you are experiencing chest pain could be deadly. Choosing to hold off on a mammogram or clinical breast exam could postpone a positive diagnosis and the development of a treatment plan at a critical time. Waiting until later to start a rehab program after surgery or for an injury will almost certainly delay progress and might actually lead to more damage.

Earlier this year, I was asked to step into a new role at Floyd as Interim Chief Medical Officer. Being a part of our leadership team has given me an even broader view of the steps that we take each day to make sure our patients are safe.

Our job as health care providers is to care for you in the safest environment possible and we work every day to ensure that we do just that. As a matter of fact, we begin each day at Floyd with a conversation about how we can continually enhance those efforts.

In this new role, I see more clearly the fruits of those efforts and the work that goes into ensuring your safety wherever you trust us with your care, whether it’s at one of our three hospitals, one of our primary or urgent care centers, a Floyd rehab facility or one of our many other outpatient facilities. Wherever you see a Floyd logo, you can have confidence in knowing you are going to be safe. That was true three months ago and it is no less true today.

The reality is that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at one of our facilities is extremely low. The hazards associated with not receiving treatment when you need it are significant and dangerous.

And, it would be wrong of me to say that’s only true at Floyd. Health care facilities all over this country are taking these same steps to make sure patients don’t have to be afraid.

We are glad to see the efforts that grocery stores and restaurants and other businesses are making to keep customers safe. We support those efforts. We can also say with confidence that you are even safer coming to see us than anywhere else you might go in our community.

Three months out of 30 years seems like such a short time, but I’ve learned a lot in these three months. I’ve learned that there are no limits to what health care workers will do to take care of people. I’ve learned what people with the right intentions can accomplish when the priority is providing that care, regardless of what it might cost.

I’ve also learned that information can be life-giving. That’s why we’re grateful for every opportunity to tell you to not delay care. Don’t wait if you’re having chest pains. Don’t put off a radiology appointment. Don’t skip out on seeing your primary care physician, even if you choose to take advantage of virtual visits. Don’t risk a worsened fate over fear of an unlikely one.

Dr. Ken Jones

interim chief medical officer at Floyd Medical Center.

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