Kelowna physician echoes warning about hidden cost of COVID-19

A healthcare expert is calling it the hidden cost of the coronavirus pandemic.

Not deaths directly related to COVID-19, but indirect deaths because people are reluctant to go to the hospital during an emergency.

“I think that’s probably for two reasons,” said Kelowna General Hospital emergency physician Dr. Jeff Eppler.

“I think one is people are understandably, but mistakenly, worried that they are going to pick up COVID-19 in the emergency department.”

Eppler, however, wants to reassure Okanagan residents that “the hospital has done an amazing job in creating a safe as possible situation in an emergency.”

The second reason the physician suspects why visits to Kelowna General Hospital’s emergency room are down is rather Canadian.

“People are worried that they are somehow bothering us or are going to be a burden and they should only come in if they have COVID-19,” Eppler told Global News.

That thinking can prove costly.

That’s not far from the narrative at KGH.

“I saw a lovely elderly patient. She waited at home for too long and I think a very treatable condition became something we might not be able to treat,” said Eppler.

He continued, saying “these are not the usual times, but people are still going to get the usual illnesses.”

If you need to visit a health-care provider, you should seek medical attention sooner, rather than later.

“I don’t want them worrying at home, I want them to be looked after properly,” Eppler said.

“If they are feeling really sick, our emergency department is open and we are happy to see those people.”

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