Your doctor is here to safely care for you

Nationally and at HonorHealth, people are not going to the doctor as frequently as they did before the pandemic due to concerns about safety, long wait times and contracting COVID-19.

We talked to Siva Talluri, MD, a gastroenterologist with HonorHealth Medical Group, about what he is seeing in his practice, when people should seek care and the safety measures in place to protect everyone.

Q. What types of care are being delayed?

A: In gastroenterology, people are delaying both routine and emergency care. In March and April, many people had to push back or reschedule procedures and screenings like colonoscopies. We want them to know that we are taking every precaution, and it’s safe for them to get care.

Q. Why is delayed care concerning to you?

A: When care is delayed, we may be missing opportunities to treat disease early – when we have a better chance of successful outcomes.

For example, colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests like colonoscopies can find precancerous polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.

If you’re having symptoms or a new concern, contact your or gastroenterologist or primary care physician. They may be able to do a video visit before having you come into the office.

Q. Are there any symptoms that could be a sign of something more serious?

A: If anything is abnormal or unusual, we recommend that people call their doctor. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you would have called your doctor about symptoms in January, before the pandemic started in the U.S. If the answer is yes, then it’s a good idea to reach out to your provider.

Some symptoms that people should not ignore or try to get through on their own are:

  • A change in bowel habits
  • Abdominal pain that does not get better
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Rectal bleeding

Additionally, if your doctor recommended a follow-up appointment and it was delayed because of closures earlier this year, those should be rescheduled.

Q. What is HonorHealth doing to ensure that patients can safely get care?

A: It is understandable that people are anxious about going to the doctor. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not going away any time soon, so we’ve made adjustments to make sure that people can get the care they need. And, right now, we can get patients in pretty quickly for both video and in-person appointments. For video and phone appointments, the technology is easy to use. We’re able to see patients of all ages and have a thorough appointment.

The health and safety of patients is HonorHealth’s number one priority. We have put many safety measures in place and increased others to ensure that people feel confident about getting care. For example, if you come into the office, you’ll need to wear a mask and be screened before your appointment. We’re also limiting the number of people in waiting rooms and testing patients for COVID-19 before they have a procedure.

We really see health as a partnership, and we want people to be as healthy as possible. As a caregiver, it’s comforting for me to know that people are able to get care now and that we can be there for our patients when they need it.