People cancel hospital surgery amid coronavirus fears, risk their health

Mater Dei Hospital chief says patients who stay away from hospital despite needing its services risk health complications

People have failed to turn up for surgical appointments at Mater Dei hospital
People have failed to turn up for surgical appointments at Mater Dei hospital

People have failed to turn up for surgical appointments at Mater Dei hospital, in fear of the coronavirus. But authorities insist this behaviour could increase medical risks.

A similar phenomenon was observed last week, with fewer people turning up at the Accident and Emergency Department, prompting the authorities to insist that people should attend hospital if they need to.

Mater Dei Hospital CEO Celia Falzon said there have been individuals who cancelled surgical appointments or failed to turn up despite recommendations by doctors for these to go ahead.

The hospital has been postponing surgical interventions, depending on the medical urgency of each case, to free up resources, space and personnel.

“Unless an appointment has been postponed by the hospital, the person should still undergo the surgical intervention because this means it is needed… we are taking all the necessary precautions to protect patients and staff and nobody should fear coming to hospital for treatment,” Falzon told MaltaToday.

Just last week she was compelled to make an appeal on television for people to continue visiting the emergency department if necessary.

“At one point, we had an empty emergency area... and this is bad because people who truly need to come and see us will eventually come to us in a much worse state that requires more resources to treat,” she said.

Since the appeal, more people have started making use of the emergency department.

Fear that they may contract the coronavirus from Mater Dei Hospital has driven many to stay away from hospital at considerable health risk if the condition is serious.

“I do not blame people because they do not know what precautionary measures we have taken but our hospital and staff are prepared and every measure is being taken to avoid the risk of coronavirus spread among patients and staff members,” Falzon said.

Her advice is that anybody requiring hospital services, including pregnant women, should continue to do so.

“People who need emergency treatment and those whose medical appointments have not been cancelled should continue to visit hospital because it will help avoid complications further down the line,” she said.

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