Non-COVID Diagnoses Overshadowed
Many health care professionals are raising concerns that other patients with non-COVID health care issues may be falling through the cracks because they have delayed seeking care or have had their planned and needed care delayed. What are we unknowingly blind to because we have foregrounded COVID as the one worst disease anyone could have right now?
As much as the public relies on nurses and other health care professionals to provide proper medical advice about the prevention and treatment of COVID, they also rely on us to provide perspective as health educators who recognize the ongoing existence of other health problems.
Nurses need to use our voices to remind the public about what healthy lifestyles in pandemic times might look like, what symptoms or conditions should not be ignored, and why it is still safer to seek medical care than not if people are concerned a serious medical issue may be arising for themselves or a loved one. For all of the very important public advocacy that nurses and other health care professionals need to do regarding proper PPE in the hospital, we also need to consider whether we are also highlighting the ways hospitals are working to maintain a safe environment for people to come and seek care.
As one who has certainly witnessed how my hospital has needed to take a conservative approach to PPE usage in these times, I do also fear that our very necessary public advocacy for adequate PPE unwittingly may be sending a message to the public that they are not safe coming to us for serious non-COVID concerns. Nurses need to use our voices to help bring balance in the spread of information about prevention and disease management of serious non-COVID conditions.