By Morgan Brice
For our senior community, access to timely and safe healthcare is imperative.
“My message to patients and their families is that it’s still very important to get your routine medical care during this pandemic,” said Dr. Kentaro Nishino, geriatrician at Overlake’s Senior Health Clinic. This year has been quite challenging, as Nishino looks back on the years he has spent serving his community as a primary care physician.
“I continue to be inspired by the resilience and strength of our senior population as they face this very difficult crisis,” he said. The concern about exposure to COVID-19 in the clinical setting has dominated fears expressed by patients here and all over the country.
“We still have patients who aren’t coming in and we are even seeing a decline in their overall health, due to their fear of not coming in to see their doctor.”
There is no doubt COVID-19 can be serious, but other conditions—like high blood pressure and diabetes—if left untreated or mismanaged, can cause harm as well.
For Nishino’s senior patients, utilizing virtual care options has been critical.
“There have been some technical challenges, but we have been able to connect and take care of many patients, in the comfort and safety of their own home. Family members have also been stepping up, by helping their loved ones use this option whether it’s on the computer, a tablet, or smartphone.”
The patient population in the senior health setting is the highest risk population, when it comes to severe symptoms and hospitalization connected to COVID-19. With that information alone, it is essential that these patients and their families are responsive to the need for social distancing, handwashing, and masking.
“Oftentimes, it can be a significant sacrifice to decrease contact with your loved ones and miss important family events,” said Nishino. “I try to encourage patients that their efforts are truly making a difference. Not only in their health, but the health of their families and others.”
Seniors should continue to seek their routine care, and right now it is more important than ever. “We don’t know how much longer this pandemic will last, so staying on top of your overall health needs to be a priority.” Nishino concluded, “We are all in this together, so don’t lose hope. We will come out of this stronger as a community.”