Search IconSearch

How Coronavirus Affects Everyone’s Healthcare — Not Just Yours

Current changes help & protect; despite frustration

Patient during a virtual visit with her doctor via her smart phone.

Annual checkups. Hip replacement surgery. A root canal. Fertility treatment.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

As the COVID-19 pandemic marches on, it seems like most health-related procedures are being rescheduled, cancelled or look different than they did before. (But aren’t you glad that you’ve finally figured out the whole virtual appointment thing?)

Healthcare providers are having to make tough decisions as they prepare for the flood of sick patients as the virus — and uncertainty — continues to spread.

“The biggest concern for healthcare right now is having the capacity to treat those who are or will be sick because of coronavirus,” says James Merlino, MD. “That’s why hospitals are taking protective measures so seriously and why social distancing is so critical. It could be the difference between life and death.”

And what exactly does “capacity” mean for hospitals? Beds. Rooms. Supplies. Able, healthy people who can come into work. Enough doctors and nurses to treat patients. But not only that, capacity can extend outward to include police, firefighters and researchers who are working to find treatment and vaccines.

Unfortunately, increasing a hospital or care facility’s capacity means postponing many non-essential procedures and appointments. (Keep in mind that non-essential does not always mean that it’s optional. It just means that it can be scheduled in advance because it’s not life-threatening.)


“If you’re scheduled for a procedure or an appointment that can be postponed for a couple of weeks, consider rescheduling it yourself if it hasn’t already been,” says Dr. Merlino. “This will give hospitals more time to prepare for the coronavirus instead and it’s a great way for you to help out and do your part.”

But no doubt, this can be incredibly frustrating for people, because when something directly impacts you – it feels essential. You’ve waited six months for your knee replacement surgery only for it to get rescheduled. Or maybe your IVF treatment that you’ve prepared for is now suddenly postponing your dream of parenthood.

These changes and cancellations can be disappointing, but the reason behind them is to save as many lives as possible, says Dr. Merlino. COVID-19 is serious and hospitals and other medical providers aren’t taking it lightly. Try to remember that the next time you get stressed out about all the changes happening around you. These changes are happening to try to help as many people as possible.

Flatten the curve to help hospitals

A large number of people becoming very sick at the same time could overwhelm healthcare systems. Not seeing patients whose appointments and procedures can wait will give facilities more room, resources and time to prepare for the surge of COVID-19 cases.

And yet these protective measures that hospitals are taking aren’t the only things that matter. Social distancing, staying at home and quarantining or isolating when you’re sick (or suspect that you are) is the second piece of this puzzle.

The longer it takes for coronavirus to spread through the population, the more time that hospitals have to prepare. We can slow the spread by following protective measures, which includes postponing non-essential appointments and procedures, along with social distancing.

“Everything we’re doing right now will help determine if we can slow the spread of COVID-19,” says Dr. Merlino. “And we must slow down the rate of infection so that hospitals stand a fighting chance.”

Still, there will be people who need emergency care outside of COVID-19. Car accidents, heart attacks and broken bones will still continue to happen. Cancelling or postponing non-essential appointments and procedures will ensure that care facilities can handle regular emergencies as well as coronavirus.

The longer it takes COVID-19 to spread, the greater the chance we give to hospitals to care for those who need it most.


Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Healthcare umbrella is held over diverse group of people
January 18, 2024/Wellness
What Is Health Equity and Why Does It Matter?

Inequality hurts our health at a personal, community and global level

A patient talks with doctor during their office appointment.
March 27, 2023/Primary Care
30 Types of Doctors and What They Do

The best way to figure out which kind you need is to first speak with your primary care provider

Docotrs and nurses work on covid patient
December 7, 2020/Primary Care
How the Pandemic Is Straining the Healthcare System – and What You Can Do to Help

Prevention is key to making sure everyone in your community can get the care they need

Hands of healthcare provider checking bangages on knee after surgery
June 21, 2024/Infectious Disease
Signs of an Infection After Surgery

Keep the area clean and monitor your incision site for discharge, odor or a change in appearance

Tube of ivermectin paste lying on straw
June 20, 2024/Infectious Disease
Why You Shouldn’t Take Ivermectin for COVID-19

The medication is ineffective and — in the case of animal ivermectin — potentially dangerous

Caregivers holding toddler, playing in ocean
June 18, 2024/Infectious Disease
How To Stay Safe From Recreational Waterborne Diseases

You can reduce your risk by not swallowing water, and showering before and after swimming

Healthcare provider placing bandaid on upper arm after a shot
June 5, 2024/Infectious Disease
Are You Up to Date on Your COVID-19 Vaccines?

Updated vaccinations are recommended to better protect against the evolving virus

Red inflammation on an upper arm
May 30, 2024/Infectious Disease
Should You Be Worried About COVID Arm?

Redness, swelling, itching and rash can happen when your body’s immune system reacts to the vaccine injection

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims