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Don’t Let the COVID-19 Pandemic Keep You from Crucial Health Screenings

woman having annual well woman screening performed

Why Not to Delay Well-Women Appointments and Annual Screenings

By Lauren Schneekloth, MD, Family Medicine at Ascension Medical Group - Main Street in Neenah.
Originally published on September 4, 2020.

2020 has gone by quickly, with most of the year spent on precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, It’s hard to believe that there are only four months left in the year.

For many women, the priority this year has been sheltering in place, reducing the chance for exposure and keeping their families safe. However, routine screenings and appointments remain just as crucial now as any year.

According to a recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, forty-eight percent of Americans claim they or someone in their household has delayed or skipped medical care with eleven percent of those reporting that their condition worsened. Routine screenings for women are included in these statistics

Closures related to the safety measures for the coronavirus certainly contributed to this movement away from following the standard check-up schedule. Now that many places have reopened and routine screening appointments are available, however, clinicians are concerned that women aren’t rescheduling or keeping these important and potentially life-saving appointments, especially those who may be months passed their original appointment date.

Should I Keep My Screening Appointment During the Pandemic?

Cancer and other abnormalities often caught in routine screenings will not wait for the pandemic and the precautionary measures surrounding it to end. This means that you’ll want to reduce non-essential travel and outings, but certain screenings are as essential as they’ve ever been and should not be deferred.

The following three screenings are especially important to maintain during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Mammograms

The American Cancer Society recommends that women at average risk of breast cancer should begin yearly mammograms at age 40. Like many types of cancer, it is essential that breast cancer is caught early. Making a point to keep your yearly exam can save your life.

Colonoscopies

Most experts agree that you should have a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at the age of 45. It is essential to stay on schedule and up to date. If you’re scheduled to have a colonoscopy this year, keep your appointment. Like mammograms, early detection is crucial for treatment and a positive prognosis.

Pap smears

Women age 21 and older should have regular Pap smears. The frequency may vary depending on your personal doctor’s recommendations or your medical history. Pap smears are an essential part of detecting cervical cancer and other abnormalities.

Is Having a Medical Screening During COVID-19 Safe?

All Ascension Wisconsin facilities have resumed screening services and are taking additional safety precautions to keep patients and clinicians safe during in-person visits. These include the following steps.

  • All Ascension associates are screened for COVID-19 symptoms before they come to work. These screenings are conducted with screening tools that are designed to ensure that Ascension associates are healthy and symptom-free before entering or interacting with patients at Ascension care facilities.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting. The Ascension environmental services teams perform rigorous disinfecting measures at all Ascension facilities.
  • Appointment scheduling. Ascension Wisconsin offers staggered appointment times to reduce the number of patients with overlapping wait times, helping to keep waiting areas uncrowded.
  • Waiting room distancing. In accordance with CDC recommendations, all patients are asked wear a cloth face covering when coming to Ascension Wisconsin facilities. In addition to practicing social distancing within Ascension Wisconsin hospitals, clinics and offices, patients and visitors will notice that waiting areas have fewer people and special instructions are posted for avoiding exposure.
  • Visitor Restrictions. Temporary visitor restrictions are in place to protect patients and staff. Each local facility has its own specific visitor guidelines, please contact your local facility for updates.

Stay Safe and Prioritize Health and Wellbeing in 2020 and Beyond

Don’t delay important screenings. Call your doctor or visit getascensionwisconsincare.com to schedule your routine exams today.

For information on how your Network Health plan can help you get the important screenings that will work to keep you healthy and strong, contact Network Health today.


About the Author

Dr. Schneekloth cares for patients of all ages, with a special interest in women’s health and diabetes management. Learn more about Lauren and book an appointment with her by clicking here.

transparent photo of dr lauren schneekloth

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