Doctors appointment struggles 7-7-21

Some trying to make a doctor's appointment may find they have to wait a while. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Some people looking to make a doctor's appointment may be waiting a while. 

"It's going to take us some time across the state to get caught up with everybody, given the fact that we're probably three months behind," said Dr. Matt McDanald, chief medical officer at Baptist Health La Grange.

McDanald says a lot of preventative and elective procedures were put on hold during the height of the pandemic.

"We've seen people put off mammograms specifically," he said. "That was one of the things that we had a large backlog on, and trying to get caught up on was one of our biggest struggles once hospitals were allowed to open up and start to see patients again."

Now, McDanald says everyone seems to be trying to schedule those checkups.

"People were a little leery at first going to the store, or going to the doctor, especially in health care facilities," he said. "I think there's kind of a big misconception that this might be a dangerous place to go just because we're a health care facility. But in general, it's a very safe place to go." 

Meanwhile, University of Louisville Hospital's emergency room is also seeing an uptick in patients.

"The best word might be nonstop. It just ... it seems to not really stop anymore. It used to be kind of the night shift would get a little slower and you can catch up on things and now it's pretty much 24/7," said Dr. Martin Huecker, an ER attending and associate professor of emergency medicine. 

But Huecker says there's always an increase in summer, and the increase of violence in Louisville contributes as well.

How much the pandemic is contributing to their caseload, and the level of illness among patients, is unclear.

"In the medical literature across the country, that's true. We saw people not coming in for strokes and heart attacks, and there are multiple papers written about that. So then, in the fall and at the end of 2020 and into this year, people are coming with these severe conditions and that maybe they had waited," Huecker said. "I don't know anecdotally if I feel like people are really waiting longer. I feel like sadly, because of our patient population here not having good primary care, I feel we always see people later in their illness." 

Regardless of the root cause in these increases, both doctors hope patients will seek out the care they need.

"All the ERs around town are pretty busy, all the hospitals are pretty full, but still do not sit at home and have some medical emergency and not get the medical care you need," said Huecker. "We'll find a place for you and we want to take care of you." 

"It's going to take some time to get caught up," said McDanald. "If people can just be patient and just schedule those appointments and keep those appointments we'll get everybody back on track soon." 

Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.