Seniors experience delays in getting healthcare due to pandemic

Some seniors in Florida are experiencing delays in medical care due to the pandemic.

Riverview resident Regina Walsh was supposed to have a hip replacement surgery this week but she was forced to postpone it because of delays in her insurance paperwork.

“Unfortunately, I’m in chronic pain all the time. So physically, it’s tiring and draining,” said Walsh. “For my surgery, unfortunately, all my paperwork wasn’t there, wasn’t finished... I have Medicaid, and I need referrals for everything that I have done. Even though I applied for the referrals in plenty of time, they were not taken care of.”

Walsh said the delay is a result of insurance companies requiring employees to work from home. That’s one aspect of medical care that organizations like AARP Florida said some seniors will likely experience.

“These are folks, especially 65 and over, have Medicare. So they have insurance, but they’re scared to go in and get care,” said Jeff Johnson, the state director of AARP Florida. “Generally speaking, this is a market with really high utilization of healthcare. When you close off two months’ worth of visits, all of those get backlogged, and so there are offices I’m sure in the Tampa Bay area that have more business than they can handle, if you will.”

That could lead to more health problems down the line. Governor Ron DeSantis echoed those concerns Friday.

“Let’s not make any mistake about it. Focusing on only one pathogen without all these other things is not an effective public health strategy,” said DeSantis.

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For seniors like Walsh, the delays are taking a toll.

“The surgeon of course is ready to operate, but to have everything set up, all the steps in place, it’s just taking so much longer because of the pandemic,” said Walsh.

Walsh said that her surgery is now delayed to at least November. The Tampa Bay area’s major hospital systems told FOX 13 they haven’t seen any issues with backlogs on their end.