North Texans with serious health issues having to choose between delaying treatment or risk getting COVID-19

Many people were already dealing with chronic health issues or a serious diagnosis before the spread of COVID-19.

And for many, treatment is on now hold, as patients and doctors are trying to handle the sudden detour.

In some cases, COVID-19 has people choosing what makes more sense: risk getting the virus or delay treatment.

Others are simply forced to delay, and that has its own issues. 

“He found a suspicious spot right here over my lip, I go, ‘Oh great,’” 66-year-old Susan Carson said.

Carson’s doctor found skin cancer last month.

The art gallery consultant and bass player knows the drill, but this was different.

“Had 18 stitches here last year. But since this is squamous cell and it grows more aggressively than basal, it concerned me because the longer I wait, the more they are going to have to dig in there,” she said.

She also understands her case is not a priority, so she is waiting.

“They didn’t give me any time frame, I have no idea,” she added.

But for other patients dealing with a more serious diagnosis, the anxiety is even higher and so too is the need to do something.

Dr. Andrew Lee is director at the Texas Center for Proton Therapy.

In the wake of COVID-19, they are still seeing patients, but deferring where possible.

“I’ve had patients that were anxious about potential delays or what was happening with their current diagnosis, and a 5-minute phone call or telemedicine visit often times would clarify a lot of those issues,” Dr. Lee explained.

Recent changes in Texas law in the wake of COVID-19 has made telemedicine visits possible, saving patients exposure to the disease while still continuing care.

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Something is even being used to help support DaVita dialysis patients.

And those needing in-person treatment are being protected.

A spokesperson for DaVita said those with symptoms or who are COVID-19 positive will receive treatment in separate clinics or during separate shifts.

As for Dr. Lee, he said they’re prepared for a backlog when things get back to normal.

“I think a lot of centers will work extended hours to accommodate the backlog of patients,” he said.

And that’s good news for those in limbo, like Carson.

“So I’m just patiently, impatiently waiting,” she added.