What’s the full toll of the pandemic lockdowns?
We’ll probably never know. Beyond the economic, social and political damage, the health care costs are another question mark.
Tomeka Kimbrough-Hilson knew she had a small growth inside her uterus. She was first diagnosed with uterine fibroids back in 2006 and had been able to have the non-cancerous mass removed through outpatient laser surgery. Over the years, she’d also been able to manage her symptoms with medication and changes in her lifestyle.
But when those symptoms – a bloated belly, irregular periods, nausea – returned in 2020, Kimbrough-Hilson was unable to get an appointment with a specialist.
“March 27th came and everything got shut down,” says Kimbrough-Hilson, 47, of Stone Mountain, Georgia. “I wasn’t at the tier of care that needed [immediate attention], because of all the precautions that had to be taken.”
She also struggled to get appointments for other members of her family. Her 14-year-old daughter underwent brain surgery before the pandemic, but then couldn’t get follow-up appointments until recently.
Kimbrough-Hilson’s family’s experience isn’t uncommon, according to a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Among households that had a serious illness in the past year, one in five respondents said they had trouble accessing care during the pandemic.
For some people that led to misery and a downturn in their wellbeing, but others died of it. We don’t know how many. And we likely never will.
Other recent studies have found significant delays in cancer screenings, and disruptions in routine diabetes, pediatric and mental health care. While it’s still early to know the long-term impacts on people’s health, researchers and physicians are concerned
Much like shoving the infected into nursing homes, the outcome wasn’t an unexpected surprise. It was a decision that prioritized a particular policy, clearing hospitals and health care facilities to prepare for an overflowing wave of hospitalizations that for the most part never happened, at least not on the scale that it did in some parts of Europe.
Much as patients diagnosed with COVID were unnecessarily intubated to protect health care workers leading to infections, comas and death.
Despite this newfound concern, which will be monetized to push more government medicine, there’s been no serious reckoning with how these decisions were made and whether they would be made again.