Millions of medical appointments and screenings have been cancelled or postponed during the pandemic because facilities closed or patients were too nervous to go to the doctor’s office. As women start to return to the doctor, we asked several Northside experts their advice for women on where they should start. What screenings should they get first? And is it safe to even go to the doctor?
In part three of this series, we spoke with Dr. Megan Bowles of Internal Medicine Specialists of Roswell, a Northside network provider. Read on for her recommendations.
What trends have you seen over the past year in your own practice?
Numerous patients have missed routine visits and screening tests/procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the time has moved quickly, many patients are surprised to realize how much time has passed since their last exam.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, most patients seen have experienced major stressors, typically in both their home and work life. Stress has negatively impacted patients’ emotional and physical health.
Why are regular check-ups important?
Physical or regular check-ups are an important time for you to sit with your physician and review any new symptoms or concerns you are having since your last visit. In addition to active concerns, your annual physical is a great time to review/update your family history, review what screening tests may now be indicated for you, and address any new advancements/updated guidelines for your known health conditions.
What should you do if you missed your physical during COVID-19?
Simply, contact your physician’s office and make an appointment. Your physician will be excited to see you again. Do not feel bad or worry about missing your physical during the pandemic. Just move forward and make that phone call!
Prior to your visit, start a list of things you would like to discuss at the time of your visit. It is easy to forget important issues you are having or questions you have when you are in the room. A list or some notes with you, can really enhance your satisfaction with your visit and your overall care.
Is it safe to go to the doctor? What advice do you have for patients who are still too nervous?
It is completely understandable to have some anxiety about returning to your doctor’s office. However, it is overall very safe. We have learned a great deal since the pandemic began in early 2020. We have screening processes in place to identify and separate individuals with suspected COVID-19 symptoms. Doctors’ offices have also adopted universal masking, physical distancing and frequent disinfection. Doctors’ offices have PPE (personal protective equipment) on hand to keep both patients and staff safe. Vaccination of both staff and patients adds an additional layer of protection.
For those patients who are still too nervous about returning to the office, please call your doctor to discuss your concerns and see if your needs could be potentially addressed by a telemedicine visit.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Your doctor’s office is here for you and would like to hear from you. Prior to running out of a medication or missing a routine screening test such as a mammogram or Pap smear, reach out and schedule an appointment. If you are not sure what you need, or are nervous to come in to the office; call and discuss with one of the clinical team members.