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According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, patients without COVID-19 symptoms, yet still in need of medical care, are staying away from emergency departments. Some doctors say that is a risky move.

Hospitals across the country are seeing a 40% drop in emergency visits and the president of the American Heart Association says as many as 30% to 50% of patients experiencing heart attacks and strokes are not seeing a doctor about their symptoms.

Many doctors offices are offering telemedicine, where they will consult you via FaceTime or by phone and talk about your symptoms.

A local primary care physician says this pandemic has revealed the importance of establishing a relationship with a primary care physician.

Even if you are seemingly healthy and do not have any conditions that require you to see a doctor, anything can happen.

Having a relationship with a local physician gives you the opportunity to comfortably make a phone call and have any questions or concerns addressed by someone who knows you.

Just like any relationship in life, it may take some time to build that trust.

“You start understanding how the general clinic layout is, how the structure works and you can address your concerns,” explained Dr. Sunitha Ghanta. “It may take a while, but at least you can have the confidence that this person or this healthcare is advocating for yourself.”

Dr. Ghanta describes your primary care practice as your home for your medical care – a base where you can know all of your medical information is stored safe.

Dr. Ghanta says having a medical home can also be beneficial if you move so all your medical records are in one place and can be transferred to your next medical provider.