FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Local hospitals are seeing an increase of COVID-19 patients but at the same time, delayed routine medical care is also leading to more hospitalization.

City of Fayetteville Health Officer, Dr. Marti Sharkey says they are seeing folks come in with a variety of illnesses. Some are sicker, and with more complications than before the pandemic.

She tells us the more common cases are people with chronic conditions that were not managed well during the pandemic. She adds people are also showing up more acutely ill. For example, instead of catching cancer in its early stages it’s being detected at more progressed stages.

“What we are seeing now are people who didn’t go to the doctor for their diabetes for their heart conditions and now they are showing back up and that’s great but we are finding all types of problems as we peel back the layers,” said Dr. Sharkey.

She urges folks especially those with underlying conditions to not skip those doctor appointments and keep up with their medications.

Hospitals are also seeing an increase in folks coming in with mental health emergencies.

She says the pandemic is affecting people in various ways. Some people are having a tough time transitioning back to pre-covid. For example, being back in the office, figuring out social interactions to name a few. It is causing some folks major stress and severe anxiety.

Local doctors are also seeing more depression, particularly in the younger population.

“For young adults and teenagers who don’t have the resiliency, that’s s struggle they don’t realize that they are going to make it through this and we just navigate the waters… and it is all going to be okay. For them they don’t know what that new normal will be and how to work through that,” said Dr. Sharkey.

If your moods are affecting your ability to function, including your eating, sleeping habits and it’s disrupting your normal daily patterns that is a red flag.

She stresses self-care. Make sure you are eating right, getting enough sleep, and getting some regular exercise. She adds to also watch your alcohol intake. If you are having a tough time, don’t struggle alone. There are tons of resources available, speak to someone.

When it comes to COVID patients, she says vaccination is key to keeping them out of the hospital. She’s hopeful that once the FDA gives the COVID -19 vaccines which are currently under emergency order use – full clearance – that will prompt more folks to get the shot.

She expects Pfizer to be cleared by the end of the month.