The Importance of Early Detection

The coronavirus pandemic has been top of mind for everyone in the Palm Beach community. Stay-at-home orders and worries about the virus have led some people to postpone getting the routine check-ups, screening tests, diagnostic tests, and other medical care they would normally receive.

But continuing to delay receiving medical care has the potential to have serious consequences. Many physicians and hospitals around the nation have noticed a significant drop in the numbers of patients coming in for everything from routine exams to cancer screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies and even pediatric care. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 48% of Americans said they or a family member had skipped of delayed medical care because of the pandemic.

Putting off care that delays detection, diagnosis and treatment of serious health conditions may lead to a diminished quality of life, conditions worsening instead of being managed, and even deaths that would have otherwise been preventable. Preliminary analyses from hospitals around the nation are showing a steep drop in life-saving procedures such as cardiac catheterization to treat a serious, potentially lethal form of a heart attack and a drop in the number of people being diagnosed with cancer.

Many people know that the odds of surviving cancer are greater when the disease is detected, diagnosed and treated early. As an example, the 5-year survival rate for women diagnosed with cervical cancer before it has spread is 92%, compared to 15% for cervical cancer diagnosed at a later stage. The 5-year survival rate for lung cancer when it’s caught early is 61%, compared to only 6% if lung cancer is detected when it has already spread. For breast cancer, 99% of women are alive after 5 years if the cancer is found while it is still contained within the breast, compared to 27% if the cancer is found when it has spread to distant organs.

There are many other conditions for which early detection followed by appropriate lifestyle interventions and treatment can also lead to a longer, healthier life. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. About 647,000 people annually, or one every 37 seconds, dies as a result of heart disease.

Managing Chronic Health Conditions

The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become hardened and narrowed. Coronary artery disease can lead to heart attacks, and even heart failure over time.

Conditions such as high blood pressure, which affects about one in three Americans, raise the risk of heart attack and stroke. Making sure high blood pressure is well controlled can go a long way in protecting the health of your heart. Diabetes is another common condition for which early diagnosis and management is essential.

About 10.5% of the population has diabetes. That number is much higher among older Americans. Nearly 27% of seniors ages 65 and up have diabetes. If not well controlled, diabetes can harm many organs in the body, including the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes, in turn, also raises the risk of coronary artery disease. Getting blood sugar levels into the normal range is one of the most important things you can do to protect your heart and your overall health.

Utilizing Technology and Innovation to Improve Safety

Jupiter Medical Center acted quickly to put rigorous, comprehensive safety measures into place to keep our patients and our team members as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. We introduced Care Anywhere for telehealth consultations, enabling us to offer patients the option of seeing an urgent care provider from the comfort of their home.

Since March, we have safely stewarded two groups of patients – a limited number who have been hospitalized for COVID-19, along with those under our care for other illnesses or procedures. While restrictions have eased in some parts of the state, our disciplined process has not changed throughout this pandemic.

Consistent with our reputation for being first in quality, safety and patient satisfaction in the region, we have deployed state-of-the-art technologies to create the safest possible healthcare environment. We are the only hospital in the region using Care.ai facial scanning systems at each entrance to check the body temperature of anyone entering the hospital, including patients, team members and medical staff.

To sterilize all of our patient rooms and procedure areas, Jupiter Medical Center has fully deployed Tru-D SmartUVC ultra-violet disinfection robots. The robots use UV-light technology to eliminate viruses and pathogens on surfaces.

These investments, along with your unwavering commitment to safety, quality and patient satisfaction, have enabled us to earn the highest possible rating, an “A” safety grade, from the Leapfrog Group for Spring 2020.

As a medical team, we feel it’s our responsibility to make sure you are protected from COVID-19, but also to educate and remind our community that many diseases – cancer, heart disease and diabetes, to name a few – will not stop progressing because there is a pandemic.

If cancer is caught at its earliest stages, your chances of a long-term cure are much better than if the disease has progressed. If you have been putting off your mammogram, Pap test to screen for cervical cancer, colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer, or your doctor has recommended that you get a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) because you are at higher risk for lung cancer, please discuss scheduling your test with your doctor.

For heart disease and diabetes, if caught early enough, lifestyle changes may be enough to prevent the disease from ever fully developing and requiring treatment.

Don’t delay your routine check-ups, and if you are noticing any changes or other symptoms that you have been trying to ignore, we urge you to make an appointment and see your doctor soon. Please don’t let worries about one illness prevent you from getting the medical care you need to give you the best chances of enjoying a long, healthy life. We can safely care for you, and help you continue to enjoy all that life has to offer.

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