Gov. DeSantis says fear of going to hospital in pandemic might have led to increased non-COVID deaths

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fear of going to the hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic “may have contributed to an increase in deaths,” according to Gov. Ron DeSantis and doctors at Flagler Health.

Speaking at a press conference Saturday afternoon, DeSantis hinted that the move to hold off on elective procedures early on in the COVID-19 pandemic may have been the wrong move.

He said that likely discouraged patients from seeking medical care “who actually needed it.”

When COVID-19 started to spread across the state, elective procedures at hospitals were postponed to allow medical workers the resources to handle an influx of patients plagued with the new and unknown virus.

Dr. Miguel Machado, chief medical officer at Flagler Health, said he noticed something odd.

“All of the sudden, we were looking at each other and said, ‘Where are the stroke patients? Where are the cardiac patients? How come we’re not seeing them in the emergency room?” Machado said. “Well, what happened was, a lot of people were having symptoms. They were just scared to come to the hospital.”

DeSantis said that had deadly results, which will eventually be measurable.

“Eventually, we will be able to figure out the mortality increase linked to people being fearful of getting care,” DeSantis said. “As important as the coronavirus is, if you look at the number of people that die from heart every year, it’s very, very significant. So, by not getting care, the mortality will likely, unfortunately increase there.”

A study in May from the health services provider Cigna found a decrease in patients for non-elective hospitalizations for acute conditions, an 11% percent decrease for coronary syndromes, a 24% decrease for gastrointestinal bleeds and a 35% decrease for irregular heartbeats.

Doctors at Flagler said the emergency room is back to normal.

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