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How the COVID pandemic has changed healthcare

Healthcare has changed since the pandemic began, and professionals share how the pandemic has impacted how they care for their patients.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — For the past couple of years, most of the world has been turned upside down by the COVID pandemic— And many of us, if not all of us, have been impacted by it in different ways.

On the frontline of it all, have been the healthcare professionals who have worked tirelessly to treat and care for their patients even when dealing with a worldwide pandemic. 

Though COVID changed the world of healthcare, it never changed how hard healthcare workers have continued to work through it all. 

"COVID has absolutely changed healthcare and the way that it's delivered in the way patients experience care is substantially different than it was prior to the pandemic," CHI St. Vincent Nurse Practitioner, Joseph Findlay said.

Findlay also explained that he and others that work in healthcare, continue to feel the pandemic's impact.

"Over the past six months or so, we've seen an increase in patient interest in returning to the clinic a little bit more frequently," Findlay added.

Findlay said that recently, it has seemed that patients are a bit more comfortable with going inside the clinic, similar to how they were before the pandemic. 

"We expect that trend to continue," he said.

Throughout the pandemic, telehealth has grown in popularity, and Findlay said he expects patients will continue to use it. 

He explained that though telehealth appointments are typically easier and more convenient, they also have served as a safer way to get medical help during the COVID pandemic.

"It's an efficient way to provide health care for people. It's really convenient. Typically, you don't have to take out as much time for an appointment for a telehealth visit," he said.

As medical facilities have begun to return to a more regular workflow, they're not forgetting the lessons they learned The staff at CHI St. Vincent said they're prepared to take extra precautions again, if necessary.

"There are areas that specifically do exist and they've been able to maintain that as a potential option for rapid rollout if they were to develop a rapid spread of COVID or new respiratory viruses that may come into play in the future," he described.

Not only did the pandemic change how people got the medical help they needed, but in some cases, it also changed how they handled healthcare altogether.

Dr. David Gerson with the Sherwood Family Medical Center said that throughout the pandemic, more people put off setting important appointments. 

"Their cancer screenings, diabetes, screenings, hypertension, taking care of their hypertension, the kids that really lost several years of their developmental meeting their developmental milestones, it's just in two years, it's been very obvious," Dr. Gerson said.

Though it has been months since many places have reopened, Dr. Gerson said he has still been playing catch up with those patients. 

"These are things that are critical, you know, six months a year, it did make a difference," he said.

Dr. Gerson has also noticed an increased need for mental health care. 

"I think the last statistic we saw was 500% increase in suicide attempts amongst adolescents, you know, during the COVID pandemic, because it just isolated and unfortunately, a lot of providers of all levels kind of shut down," he said. 

Dr. Gerson said whether it's mental or physical help, the best thing people can do for themselves or others, is to set an appointment and get the proper care that they need.

"COVID has been definitely difficult and has changed significantly from the initial stages of the pandemic but overall has been really rewarding when you see patients get the healthcare that they need and help them improve in health generally over time," Findlay said.

"The good news is that people are coming back and we're just we're finding the resources for it and we're happy to have come back," Dr. Gerson said.

Though the world of healthcare looks different, healthcare professionals have continued to do what's in the best interest of their patients. 

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