Atavia Lopez-Dor, office manager at Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM Wednesday to talk about how important it is to get help when you need it.
Procrastinating procedures is never a good idea and Lopez-Dor knows from experience. She created five reasons people cancel doctor’s appointments.
Lopez-Dor admitted, “All five of them fit me in different ways but it’s only taken me this long to learn my lesson. I won’t tell you how many years, but my sincere hope is that nobody else has to go through what I’ve gone through to understand how important it is not to put off medical procedures and just your health in general.”
Reason number five is I must pick up/drop off kids to and from school.
Lopez-Dor said, “Here in the Keys we’re very busy parents and one thing I love about living in Key West is that a lot of the kids are involved in so many activities. They’re so well engaged not with just the school, but clubs and extracurricular activities. However, when we say I have to drop off my kids, my kids have to be there, here or wherever, we have to start to ask ourselves, if we’re putting off for health, what happens when we’re no longer here for our kids, the ones that need us the most? What happens when we are out of commission, because we’ve put off that general physical, and God forbid, something does show up? That’s why that excuse doesn’t work and that’s the mindset that you have to have when you are approaching those situations.”
Reason number four for not keeping a doctor’s appointment is I don’t think it’s that bad right now.
Lopez-Dor said, “It very well may not be that bad right now, but we have to be in tune with our bodies and if your body is giving you pause to say, hey, something isn’t right or this might need attention. Or if you even have taken the steps that it concerned you to even call the doctor or contemplate contacting the doctor, then it’s worth going through it. Without that early intervention, things spiral.”
Reason number three is I don’t want to hear about my weight or I know the doctor personally.
Lopez-Dor said, “The doctor is there to take care of you and to meet your health care needs. Now, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. If your weight is a factor in your health, it would be very irresponsible of the doctor not to address it to you. When we have issues with our weight, when we think of issues with weight, we tend to think of overweight, but also being underweight can also be an issue that people sometimes don’t want to have addressed. But addressing both of those issues, your weight is very much a factor in hitting where your health is as well. So it’s never personal, but a doctor would be remiss if they didn’t address that if it was an issue, but it’s not out of judgment.”
If you’re worried about information getting around in a small town, don’t forget HIPAA.
Lopez-Dor said, “HIPAA is a federal law that kind of protects all of us. I think we talked about my husband not wanting to go, he’s like, how am I going to go to the Christmas party and look at them if they’ve seen me, and I’m like, well, they’re going to be talking to your face at the Christmas party, not the other end. So that’s not the concern. That’s never the concern. Don’t be concerned about knowing them personally. That is their professional space. All of the doctors that I’ve ever had to interact with in Key West are of the most professional level that I can imagine, so just in general with your health, don’t let that be the concern in putting off or the excuse in putting off going to get checked.”
Reason number two that people put off or break doctor’s appointments is I cannot afford it.
Lopez-Dor said, “This is kind of a big one. This is usually one we get before we even get to what times do you have available? It’s constantly surprising me. But it’s not surprising to me, especially economically, the way the world is going right now and people are struggling. But one of the first questions we get out of people is how much is it going to cost me? Our office as well as others will work with you with payments. There’s also other resources within the community if you fall underneath indigent care, there’s programs that we can point you to to help assist. We have some in office options as well for people that have a concern with payments. Of course, it always looks better if you’ve made consistent payments in the past, if there’s no bad debts, but even the attempt is always good to make payments. It just definitely makes things a little bit better when it comes time for you to follow up or have additional care.”
The number one reason that people for not going to a doctor or for breaking a doctor’s appointment is I have to work.
Lopez-Dor said, “Some of the situations that people find themselves in that they have that they use that is just kind of mind blowing to me, when they put it off. It’s I hate to say, it’s the big C word people have put off their follow up because they have to work. You have to schedule time for your health. There’s really no reason. I love my job, but I know if something happened to me tomorrow, the office isn’t going to close around me. That’s the same with most of our jobs. Somebody will be there to fill in the space, it may it may slow down and there may need to be help, but if you put off your health, the job will go on without you. Even entrepreneurs, even business owners, who puts so much hard work into what they do and what they’ve built. What happens when you can no longer get to your business and the fruits of your labor are on our hospital table?”
Taking a little time off work now is really different than how long you might be forced to be off work if you put off the checks and something bad happens.
Lopez-Dor said, “I’ve seen a lot of things happen where people put it off, and they end up in the hospital. Then people that have not put off their health care needs end up having to be bumped or moved because people who have put it off, they’ve made themselves priority by putting themselves in a life or death situation.”
Check to see if telehealth could work.
Lopez-Dor said, “In some cases, it can be an alternative. It doesn’t hurt to ask and nine times out of 10 we’ll say okay, that it may work, but sometimes we do have to ask the doctor if this is something specific that they need to discuss with a person or even sometimes they have to go in and palpitate, touch around. So your chief complaint may not fit within the necessary requirements for a telehealth visit, but sometimes like a lot of follow up visits, they can be done via telehealth. Telehealth do still come with a copay and a cost – it is still time with the physician. They are viable choices and options.”