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Saving money could be bad for your health

Avoid cutting corners on health care

Posted: December 29, 2008 8:11 p.m.
Updated: December 30, 2008 8:00 a.m.
 

Despite tough economic times, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital officials warn Americans to pay attention to their health.

"When people defer care, conditions usually tend to worsen," said Mark Sender, hospital chief of staff. "It is far better, and in the long run cheaper, to catch health issues early on, before they turn into a long-range debilitating condition, such as heart attack, stroke or uncontrollable malignancy."

Chief among the areas of heightened concern are mammograms, colonoscopies, flu shots, childhood immunizations, blood pressure, cholesterol checks, gerontological and prenatal care.

"It sometimes sounds like a cliché, but there truly is nothing more important than your health," said Gregory Jenkins, hospital medical staff member. "Everyone is feeling the economic pinch, but health care must remain one of your absolute highest priorities, right next to food and shelter."

In this environment, there is reason for concern.

With the United States unemployment rate higher than 6 percent, many Americans have lost their health insurance.

Still others are forced to make tough decisions regarding where to put their dollars and how to stretch their budgets.

And the health care industry is already seeing scary results.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 36 percent of respondents said they or a family member put off needed care.

This statistic is up from 29 percent six months ago.

Nearly one third said they passed on recommended tests or treatment, up from 24 percent in that same period last year.

In both instances, one-fifth of respondents said the condition worsened as a result.

"There is a real and legitimate fear that people may try to cut corners and skip their annual cancer screenings this year, such as mammography, because of the recession," said Gregory Senofsky, medical director of Newhall Memorial's Breast Center. "This could be disastrous. I tell people that your life is not worth jeopardizing due to the recession."

Along with individual responsibility, Sender believes employers need to keep their workforce healthy.

"Employers need to focus on preventative care for their workforce and make sure they don't put off such things as screenings and annual physicals," he said.

As a nonprofit community hospital, Newhall Memorial is continuing to offer an active schedule of community health education programs, lectures and screenings to help the community stay healthy and promote healthy lifestyles.

The hospital's outreach schedule can be found on the Internet at www.henrymayo.com.

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