It’s been a long few months of living in a world gripped by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many of us stayed home for days and weeks to help slow the spread of the virus and, let’s face it, there weren’t many places to go if you did leave the house. It’s understandable, then, that you may have put off that routine visit to the doctor’s office you had scheduled before coronavirus came along. Or perhaps your appointments and procedures were canceled for you as hospitals prepared for a possible influx of coronavirus patients. Either way, now that states are beginning to reopen, it’s more important than ever to get back on track with your routine checkups, tests and office visits.
“I would like to assure patients that Blount Memorial Hospital is taking all necessary safety precautions for our patients in our community,” said Blount Memorial gastroenterologist Dr. William Lyles. “I’ve had the experience of talking with patients who are concerned about having procedures done, and I’ve assured them that it is very safe to have procedures done at this hospital. The incidence of COVID-19 is very low in this area. Our area fortunately has not been affected like New York City or New Orleans. Measures have been put into place by the hospital, such as checking temperatures and screening patients with questions prior to entry, that should help ensure patients that they’re safe here,” he explained. “Our hospital and our community have been able to come together to make appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and other materials to make our health care workers safe, and as a physician, I feel I have been well protected with the use of masks, hand-washing and social distancing,” he added.
Lyles says there’s risk in putting off necessary procedures. “The risk of delaying procedures includes missing a malignant disease and other diseases that would be more amenable to treatment at the earliest time. This could be a very tragic event,” Lyles said. “I feel it is riskier to delay procedures than it would be to actually get the coronavirus,” he added.
Lyles maintains, however, that while providers are doing their part to keep patients safe, patients, themselves, also have a role to play. “Patients should use good common sense, such as wearing a mask, washing their hands and social distancing,” he said. “Patients who are at high risk – elderly patients, patients who have medical problems like diabetes, patients who are receiving chemotherapy or patients on certain medications – still can have their procedures done here, but they need to take the proper precautions,” he explained.
“The bottom line is that we need to get back to normalcy in our area,” Lyles continued. “If anything, this COVID-19 pandemic has brought our community together. I’d like to thank all the volunteers, churches, businesses and people who have taken the time to help us with supplies and meals. This is why I chose this community to live and work in,” he added.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lyles, call Smoky Mountain Gastroenterology at 865-980-5060.