My View with Dr. Rina Bansal: Help our hospital by keeping healthy

My View with Dr. Rina Bansal: Help our hospital by keeping healthy
The emergency entrance at INOVA Alexandria Hospital. (Photo/File)

I am often asked: “How can I help; how can I ever thank the team at Inova Alexandria Hospital for everything they are doing during the pandemic?”

I feel very fortunate to be the president of Inova Alexandria Hospital. Our community is so caring, and we are privileged to serve you all. We have been gifted with flowers, food, cards, signs and much more this past year, and we are so very thankful to be in your thoughts. As we come up on the anniversary of this pandemic, I now have a definitive answer to the question. Please help us by keeping yourselves healthy!

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be not the only major healthcare challenge over the past year. In fact, an even greater healthcare crisis has arisen: People needing everything from routine medical care to emergency intervention have been consciously avoiding their physician’s offices and their hospital.

Ask yourself this: Did you miss your primary care visit recently? Is there a medical procedure you should have had but keep putting it off? Do you know something is not quite right, but you still don’t want to come to the hospital or see your doctor?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then what you can do for me and my team is take action and do your part by staying healthy. Serious illness and deaths are rising, precisely due to abandoned checkups and untreated signs and symptoms of health crises.

I want to reassure you all that it is safe to visit your physician as well as the hospital to receive the medical attention you need – even in the midst of COVID-19. Whether it be your physician, a clinic or one of Inova’s emergency departments, your health and safety is part of our culture, the foundation of everything we do, every time, every touch. We have strict personal protective equipment requirements and social distance protocols for anyone entering the hospital, rigorous cleaning and sterilizing practices and specific isolation procedures for COVID-19 patients and those waiting for care. You are safe at Inova.

If you are ill, in pain or sense your health is failing, call and consult with your doctor. If you have chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, epilepsy, mood disorders, COPD or diabetes, regular follow-up visits with your doctor are absolutely vital. If you need surgery to improve your quality of life, do not put it off.

During the pandemic, it’s even more important to keep patients and communities safe from preventable diseases. Delaying or avoiding routine care such as mammograms, colon cancer screenings, Pap smears, vaccinations or well-baby exams can have many negative consequences.

Believe me, it is far more beneficial for you, and far easier on us, if you keep your regularly scheduled checkup when you first sense you might need medical advice or attention, rather than putting it off and potentially turning something routine into something more.

Inova is also leading the way with virtual visits, and is breaking down barriers to accessing care: including mobility challenges, lack of transportation, childcare and scheduling issues. Inova’s telemedicine program meets patients where they are to provide care in a way that works best for them – saving patients both time and money.

Emergencies don’t stop, and neither do we. It’s important that you and your loved ones do not delay care for a heart attack, stroke, fall or other urgent need. We are ready, safe and open to serve you, and I am asking you to help us by taking care of yourself. Please don’t delay your medical care.

The writer is president of Inova Alexandria Hospital.