Medical expert explains why it’s so important COPD patients seek early treatment

‘COVID-19 is especially worrisome for COPD patients,’ doctor says

November is COPD Awareness Month | SA Live | KSAT12
November is COPD Awareness Month | SA Live | KSAT12

November is COPD Awareness Month, and it’s also the annual enrollment period for Medicare recipients.

With early diagnosis and treatment, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, can improve their quality of life and breathe better.

According to the American Lung Association, an estimated 15.3 million Americans suffer from COPD, and several additional millions likely have COPD and don’t even know it.

Dr. Steven Argumedo with WellMed Medical Group answered some commonly asked questions regarding the disease.

COPD is one of the leading causes of death in this country. What impact is COVID-19 having on COPD patients?

“COVID-19 is especially worrisome for COPD patients,” said Argumedo. “They are not at increased risk of contracting the virus, but if they do become infected, complications from COVID-19 can be more serious for COPD patients.”

I understand there is a real problem right now with high-risk patients -- like those with COPD -- refusing or delaying care for fear of contracting COVID-19. Is that true?

“Yes. It’s estimated that 40% of Americans may be putting off seeing a doctor, even for routine immunizations and screenings, because of COVID-19," Argumedo said. “Don’t do that. You’re putting your life in greater danger. WellMed, for example, follows CDC guidelines to make sure our clinics are safe. We also offer alternative care methods like curbside care and online video appointments. Don’t delay care.”

Medicare annual enrollment is underway. Many COPD patients are also Medicare recipients. What do you want them to know?

“The annual enrollment period is the time for you to assess the kind and level of care you’re getting and to make any changes," explained Argumedo. "You have between now and Dec. 7 to make any changes.”

What questions should patients be asking themselves when choosing a doctor during this time?

There are five things to ask, according to Argumedo:

  1. How is the doctor compensated? This is a big thing for WellMed, where the doctors are compensated by the level of care they provide -- how healthy they make you -- not by the number of patients they see.
  2. How often do they see patients? This is important because it speaks to the relationship between the doctor and patient.
  3. What is the average time they spend with their patients? This tells you a lot about patient engagement as well.
  4. How do they communicate and coordinate care with their patients' other care teams, such as specialists and hospitalists? Rarely is your health condition an isolated issue, especially as you get older. You want your doctors talking to each other. Health care is a team sport.
  5. How do they keep up to date and practice with the latest in medical advances and technology? You want the best care you can receive.

If you would like to get a flu shot from WellMed, you can call a clinic to make an appointment. When you arrive, stay in your car and one of the health care professionals will come to give you the vaccine.

The health care provider is also offering drive-thru flu shot clinics in certain locations. To learn more about WellMed and finding your doctor, click or tap here.