MANCHESTER – Are Township residents dying out of fear of catching the coronavirus?
Some officials believe that might be the case as some alarming statistics came to light recently.
The township, which has a large number of seniors in a county that has the largest population of senior citizens in the state has noted a spike in deaths that some officials feel are linked to fear of COVID-19.
Between early March and early May, Manchester Police have logged in an 81% increase in DOA (Dead On Arrival) calls compared to that same period in 2019.
Such DOAs have been discovered by loved ones or during a wellbeing check. Many who died have had pre-existing health conditions.
Dr. James Orlando, interventional cardiologist who was quoted in a local NBC affiliate TV report, said there may be some seniors who are showing symptoms of chest pains and are too afraid to go to their doctor’s office. They are afraid to come to the hospital because they are afraid of the virus.
The township’s new EMS service which began in March, has had an alarming number of calls related to people having cardiac or stroke symptoms and EMTs are being told by those patients that they refuse to go to the hospital. This is even after the EMTs or physicians encourage them to go to the hospital.
“It is more dangerous to stay home when you have symptoms that are cardiac and stroke related,” Police Chief Lisa Parker said during the NBC broadcast. She stressed that patients in such a situation, “really need to go to the hospital.”
Dr. Orlando said that prior reports by doctors had stressed to seniors that they needed to remain at home and maintain social distance but now physicians need to tell them that it is all right to come out if they are not feeling well as they need to be seen so they can get the necessary help.
The message needs to go out to seniors and Township officials are endeavoring to do just that in a variety of ways.
Councilman Robert Hudak said, “It isn’t just true among seniors but among all of us. We don’t know what the future is going to hold. I’m not a senior but as someone who is older and who has seen many more things, I can imagine what they are feeling. It is a really trying time right now.”
Hudak noted that the fear of the unknown is something that causes fear in everyone. “None of us have experienced anything like this. We keep hearing that we are in uncharted territory and that is the truth.”
Quoting one of his old professors Hudak said, “it is the unknown unknowns that are the biggest questions out there and it is true. We don’t know what tomorrow is going to hold. That uncertainty breeds anxiety.”
Mayor Kenneth Palmer said getting the message out to the residents of the township’s many senior communities is not easy noting that many are not as technologically savvy with computer skills. He said that while many seniors watch the news, it is still hard to get the information out to them.
The mayor and other officials are urging residents to fully evaluate any health scare that includes symptoms related to stroke or heart attack and to make decisions that will be best for their overall wellbeing and not base such decisions entirely on their fear of catching the coronavirus.