It’s safe to see your doctor, ailing health-care industry tells prospective patients
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Health-care providers are facing a dilemma. While some are busy, or even nearly overwhelmed providing care for patients with COVID-19, others have seen a huge drop in the number of patients at their offices, clinics and hospital emergency rooms. Sick people are staying away, even if they’re having heart attacks or strokes. Health-care providers are taking steps to convince people who aren’t suffering from the coronavirus to get the treatment they need.
Tricia MacKenzie is a skin cancer survivor in Boston. And over the last couple months, she’s had a lot of tele-visits with her doctors. But if her doctors asked her to come in for an exam?
“I think if I was asked to go today, I probably wouldn’t. I do want to go because it’s for the safety of just my body. But in the same sense, I’m not sure,” MacKenzie said.
A lot of patients aren’t sure. At Pittsburgh pediatrician Todd Wolynn’s clinic, they’re not seeing as many sick kids. When he gets calls from parents, he finds himself trying to reassure them.
“We check you in at the front door. We escort you directly back to a room, [and] we have rooms for kids that are well and rooms for kids with symptoms,” he tells them.
But even with reassurances, people across the country are putting off routine care. Childhood vaccination rates are down, and emergency departments are seeing about half the volume they’d typically see. Marianne Udow-Phillips, a health-policy researcher at the University of Michigan, says people are afraid.
“There is a lot of fear that when people go to the hospital they will become exposed to COVID-19, and they may actually end up sicker than they would if they just stayed home,” Udow-Phillips said.
That’s led to at least 1.4 million job losses in health care. According to Michelle Hood with the American Hospital Association, all of those procedures that people are postponing or avoiding “are oftentimes what allow hospitals to balance their books.”
So hospitals and health-care systems have launched ad campaigns to convince people it’s OK to come in. Local hospitals in Boston are telling patients that if they have chest pain or cut themselves with a kitchen knife, they are “doing everything possible to keep emergency departments clean and safe.”
And the Kentucky Hospital Association is running an ad saying that coronavirus has changed a lot about our lives, “but the health care you need doesn’t have to be put on hold.”
Hospitals are hoping the ads work. According to the American Hospital Association, the dip in visits is causing $50 billion a month in losses.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?
This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.
Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?
India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
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