By: Stepfanie Romine, for Santiam Hospital 

Have you been delaying (or even dreading) going to the doctor because of the COVID-19 pandemic? You’re not alone — but in doing so, you could face other health issues down the line. 

If you have put off medical care or an elective procedure due to COVID-19, please know that Santiam Hospital, its facilities and providers are open and ready to take care of you. Your health and safety are their top priority.

Santiam Hospital & Clinics is committed to the health of the community. They continue to monitor and implement all protocols recommended by the Oregon Health Authority and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Both primary-care providers and specialists are still seeing new and existing patients, so you can receive the care you need. (Note that individual Santiam clinics and facilities have different protocols in place, so start by calling your provider directly.) Santiam is offering elective procedures and non-emergency care during this time. 

It’s important to maintain health care for a variety of reasons. While COVID-19 may lead to a backlog of over 28 million elective surgeries worldwide, your team at Santiam Hospital & Clinics is working to ensure you have safe, uninterrupted access to health care, including surgery. By maintaining your care, you can stay healthy while also avoiding potentially long waits in the future. 

Here’s a look at some health care you might need soon. 

Elective procedures

The term “elective” is a little misleading. In fact, procedures that are “elective” are not always optional. It really means surgery that can be scheduled — compared with emergency procedures that have to happen immediately. While elective procedures aren’t treating life-threatening conditions, they can offer pain relief and restore quality of life, so they shouldn’t be delayed. 

Examples include removing tonsils that are causing recurrent infection and excruciating pain, repairing a hernia that interferes with daily activities, or taking a biopsy of a growth to determine whether it’s malignant or benign. 

Avoiding such procedures could lead to emergency surgery — or a costly trip to the emergency room — later on. Discuss your options with your health-care provider, but don’t delay treatment. 

Early screening

If it’s time for a mammogram, Pap test, colonoscopy or other screening, don’t delay. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 275,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and about 150,000 Americans will get colorectal cancer. While colorectal cancer is one of the most easily treated cancers, it’s also one of the most preventable types. Statistics show that if all adults over 50 were screened regularly, eight in 10 colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented.

Regular screening (including a colonoscopy) helps catch the disease in earlier stages, which is when treatment is most likely to lead to remission and positive outcomes. These screenings also help providers identify precancerous polyps, which can be removed before they grow into cancer.

Cervical cancer is less common, but it’s a disease that can be caught before it can spread. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 13,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer last year. Appropriately-timed Pap tests, as part of an annual women’s wellness exam, can identify any changes in cervical cells.  

And, early detection matters with breast cancer, too. About 90% of breast cancers are not genetic, which means mammograms and regular screenings are how providers catch the diseases before they can spread. 

Your health-care provider can answer any questions you might have about your safety during these procedures. 

Preventative health care

From depression screenings to blood pressure testing, cholesterol testing to type 2 diabetes screenings, preventative health care saves lives. While a regular check-up seems like something you can delay, you risk letting undiagnosed conditions go untreated. 

A physical exam could catch high blood sugar before it evolves into diabetes, for example, or your provider could prescribe medication to help manage high blood pressure. 


Well visits help kids stay healthy, so staying on schedule with any appointments or vaccinations is important, especially for infants and toddlers. Your provider can help you navigate your options and explain everything the Santiam team is doing to keep you and family healthy and safe. 

Vaccines will help you protect your children in ways that parents 100 years ago could not. Knowing your children are protected against communicable diseases may help put your mind at ease, given the additional uncertainty we face amid COVID-19.  

Follow-up care

Whether you need a prescription refill, have a question about lab results, or need to discuss a new symptom, your provider can still provide care.  A telemedicine appointment might be able to meet your needs without coming into the facility. 

Santiam’s philosophy is to embrace extraordinary care that is offered close to home. Nestled in the heart of the Willamette Valley, Santiam Hospital & Clinics is the perfect place to provide comprehensive care for you and your family. Their hospital, the medical providers and staff offer the level of care and treatment often found at larger facilities, but with the personal touch that comes from individualized care. During COVID-19 and always, they promote healthy living by empowering our patients to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Together with Santiam Hospital & Clinics you will experience a stronger, longer, and healthier life that is well within your reach. They are here for you as your medical family.

Note: If you suspect you have COVID-19, contact your provider as you normally would. Please do not go to your provider’s office, an urgent care clinic, or the emergency room without calling first. 

For the latest information on the coronavirus, please visit