Medical Director of Emergency Services Kelly Abbrescia, DO
Emergency Care

An Alarming Trend Has Taken Hold: Here’s How We Fix It

If you looked at vital health statistics throughout 2020 and 2021 you may think the number of heart attacks and strokes declined. Was there a sudden increase in health across the country and community? Unfortunately, no. The reality is, many community members were suffering these conditions at home, too afraid to get medical care because of the threat of COVID-19.

“I’ve practiced emergency medicine for more than two decades. This is the first time in my career I’ve witnessed a substantial drop in the number of heart attack and stroke cases. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean people are taking better care of themselves. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – they are ignoring the signs,” said Bayhealth Medical Director of Emergency Services Kelly Abbrescia, DO.

When heart and stroke symptoms are ignored, it increases the chance of serious lifelong complications, even death.

“It’s not just heart attack and stroke patients who are putting off care. We’ve seen an increase in complications caused by untreated broken bones, infections, dehydration, cancers, diabetes, and more. Truthfully, it’s been deeply concerning,” said Dr. Abbrescia.

As we continue to see community spread of COVID-19 decline in our communities, it’s also important to remember hospitals like Bayhealth are safer than ever before. Standard processes such as personal protective equipment (PPE), temperature and symptom screenings at entry points, enhanced cleaning, and social distancing ensure our facilities are safe and ready to care for our community.

“If you are concerned about exposure, do your homework to find hospitals, physician practices and other clinical services that are COVID safe,” said Dr. Abbrescia. “Don’t be shy, ask your clinician what they do to protect you.”

Dr. Abbrescia is reminding the patients she sees in the emergency department to either stay or get back on schedule with their routine appointments and screenings. For patients without a primary care physician, she says now is the perfect time to find one and establish a relationship. 

“The most important message to remember is don’t delay your care because your health and possibly your life depend on it. Make sure to encourage your loved ones, friends, and neighbors to not be afraid to seek emergency care when it is necessary,” said Dr. Abbrescia. “Equally as important, please seek care with your primary care physician or walk-in clinic before a medical concern becomes an emergency.”
Visit to learn about all the ways Bayhealth is COVID safe. Do you need a doctor? Call 1-866-BAY-DOCS (229-3627) to be matched with a doctor that meets your needs.

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