By Rachel Wulff

MODESTO (CBS13) — Even one year into the pandemic, routine medical screenings at the hospital have caused some seniors to think twice.

“I thought, ‘Well, I gotta go eventually,’” said 83-year-old Betty Fallon.

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Fallon admits COVID-19 caused concern when it came to showing up for some of her doctor appointments – and she isn’t alone.

“There have been a lot of patients who have stayed away from the hospital,” said Dr. Eric Ramos, Chief Medical Officer at Doctors Medical Center.

Ramos says putting off health care checkups could be dangerous.

“One [patient] in particular was having chest pain for over a month before he came in and sought medical care and ended up having heart surgery to help him,” he said.

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In other instances, doctors say delaying the treatment of infections can lead to sepsis or shock.

Health care experts say there is no need to put off healthcare needs and routine screenings now that tele-med and tele-ed are an option.

“Patients can get a video conference or with a provider in the emergency department who can alleviate their fears and say, ‘You don’t need to come in’ or ‘Yes you do,’” Dr. Ramos said.

And most hospital staff are vaccinated in addition to being trained in environmental health and infectious disease protocols.

“I haven’t gotten sick, I haven’t had the flu – [I] haven’t even had a cold this year so far,” Fallon said. “Hopefully it stays that way.”

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Dr. Ramos advises that, even though we are at the tail end of the pandemic, we need to be vigilant – especially those with pre-existing conditions.