BANGOR – Fear is keeping a lot of people out of hospitals.
“I don’t want to overburden our hospital system, so if it was something I felt I definitely needed to see a doctor for, then I would call the hospital and make arrangements,” said Gibran Graham, a resident of Bangor.
Doctors say a lot of people are also hesitant to receive medical care out of fear they may contract COVID-19.
As a result, emergency departments are seeing fewer patients.
According to James Hildebrand, chief of the department of medicine at St. Joseph Hospital, it’s important people receive medical care.
“If you have an urgent medical concern and you feel that you need to be seen, come in,” Hildebrand said. “We are the ones that are taking the precautions for you. That shouldn’t be something that you have to worry about. So, we are doing everything we can to make your visit safe. It’s important your seen, rather than put off issues.”
While it’s important to come to the hospital for emergencies, medical professionals encourage people to keep up with routine procedures such as cardiograms, stress tests, mammograms and much more.
Hildebrand says they are taking preventative measures to keep patients safe during elective procedures.
“In those cases, we are doing screening ahead of time, regardless of symptoms,” he said. “So that screening helps us say it’s safe for them even to have the surgery and not expose other staff, the operating rooms, the equipment, etc. to coronavirus.”
With July Fourth weekend around the corner, Hildebrand encourages people to wear masks and practice social distancing.
“I’d encourage people to stay outside for their gatherings when possible, keeping distance like we are, at least six feet apart. That’s appropriate if you’re outside, no masks needed for something like that,” Hildebrand said. “However, if you’re going to be closer to someone, even outside, or if you’re going to be gathering inside, it’s really crucial to mask up.”