Virginia doctors tell patients to seek care after spike in deaths from chronic conditions

Patient with doctor
Posted at 5:05 PM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 17:43:40-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The CDC is looking into thousands of Virginia deaths during the pandemic, but they didn't die from COVID related issues.

Health leaders with the Virginia Free and Charitable Clinics (VAFCC) said they are urging people to come in for preventative care, something CDC data shows would help curb the number of excess deaths, which were up 15 percent in 2020.

The CDC defines excess deaths as the difference between the number of observed deaths and the number of expected deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, data shows in Virginia the number of excess deaths is over 22,000.

Of that 22,000, nearly 5,400 deaths were attributed to circulatory disease and over 1,100 deaths were due to diabetes.

“Chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes and other conditions can lead quickly to a very urgent situation if not taken care of on a regular basis,” said Rufus Phillips, CEO of the VAFCC.

A recent study shows 41 percent of people skipped out on preventative care during the early stages of the pandemic.

“A lot of folks were concerned, quite rightfully, during the pandemic about the cost and also of course the risk,” Phillips said.

He said their clinics are servicing a vulnerable population — those that are uninsured or underinsured. Phillips said they can provide care like annual physicals, dental exams, eye exams and behavioral health care.

Archie Greene got a routine dental cleaning Friday at Western Tidewater Free Clinic. He's also been a patient for other health concerns.

“I didn’t know I was diabetic, then they did all these tests and the doctor said I was diabetic," Greene said. "Since then, they’ve helped me with the supplies I’ve needed and I’ve had a chance to get them and it’s been great.”

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