There’s no denying that COVID-19 fears have kept people from getting the health care they’ve needed over the last year. In the beginning of the pandemic, people stayed home, canceled appointments for routine checkups and postponed annual screenings because they were understandably afraid of being exposed to COVID-19. Later in the year, cases spiked, leaving many more concerned than before about taking risks that felt unnecessary. Now, however, things have changed. Case counts have decreased in our area, and more and more people have been vaccinated, which means there’s no better time to start getting back to normal with appointments you may have missed, canceled, skipped or postponed in the last 15 months.
“As we move closer and closer to a greater sense of normalcy, I want to reassure patients that Blount Memorial Hospital is continuing to take all necessary safety precautions for people in this community,” said Blount Memorial gastroenterologist Dr. William Lyles. “In the last year, I’ve had the experience of talking with patients who were concerned about having procedures done or about coming in for annual screenings, and I’ve assured them that it is very safe to get back to business as usual when it comes to their health care. Cases of COVID-19 have dropped, and there are three vaccines out there that can protect us against the virus. The hospital is maintaining its mask policy and continues to encourage social distancing and hand hygiene to help protect everyone against the potential spread of COVID-19. With these safeguards in place and the situation with COVID-19 improving nationwide, I hope to encourage patients to resume their normal physician appointments, tests and screenings, in particular, because not doing so can be dangerous,” he explained.
“The risk of delaying procedures includes missing a malignant disease or other disease that would be more amenable to treatment at the earliest time,” Lyles continued. “This could be a very tragic event. Depending on your situation, delaying a necessary procedure could potentially be worse than actually getting COVID-19, so it’s important that people who were getting regular checkups or screenings prior to the start of the pandemic resume those appointments as quickly as possible,” he said. “As Benjamin Franklin once wrote, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’” he added.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lyles, call Smoky Mountain Gastroenterology at 865-980-5060.