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July 10, 2020

6/23/2020 2:26:00 PM
It's safe to return to your medical provider

Dear Editor:
As a member of the Upland Hills Health Board of Trustees, I know how hard our team has worked to tackle the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic head-on during the past three-plus months. UHH employees have made personal sacrifices - both financial and risking their own health - to make sure we are as prepared as possible in case the virus spread rampantly through our community and filled our hospital with sick patients. Due to the preparedness of our staff and the diligence of our area residents, we have been able to keep cases within our service area to a minimum, although it hasn't been easy. Many local business owners have made major sacrifices to help keep human interaction to a minimum.
We are now at a stage where people need to think about returning to the hospital and their local clinics. I visited my dermatologist and family physician within the past week and in both cases I felt very safe, much safer than I would have felt in a big box store or other public place. Our local healthcare providers are taking every safety precaution imaginable to make sure people who might be infected with the virus are isolated from others who need healthcare services.
According to a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, the CEOs of the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic wrote that it's likely the death toll for people who've avoided hospitals for fear of contracting the coronavirus is equal to the more than 100,000 Americans who have died from the virus. Many patients put off critical healthcare services during the past three months, and in some cases, it cost them their lives.
Several studies cited in the op-ed show emergency department visits down by as much as 40 percent across the country, but the patients who are going are much sicker from delaying care. The hospital CEOs urged patients with serious conditions to return to their providers sooner rather than later.
Upland Hills Health has lost a significant amount of money since the coronavirus outbreak, although our reserves have put us in a relatively good position to weather the storm. We have also received funds from the CARES Act that have helped stabilize our financial picture.
Moving forward, however, we aren't anticipating more federal funding, so we need our patients to return to our facilities to help keep the ship moving upstream. While our patients are important to us financially, it is even more important that our community residents get back to receiving the healthcare services they need.
If you have been putting off that annual physical, cancer screening, heart exam, mammogram or other important medical procedure, I would urge you to schedule an appointment and get back on track. It will help keep both you and Upland Hills Health healthier as we navigate these uncharted waters together.
Jim Massey

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