Patients testing positive for COVID-19 don't have a primary care doctor

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Emergency room sign. (WSYX/WTTE - FILE){ }

An alarming number of people who test positive for COVID-19 don’t have a primary care doctor. It's now putting a strain on hospitals to pair patients up with primary care doctors.

Hospitals say they are willing to help out now but not forever.

"We’re now asking the residency program if we would help take on some of this population that doesn't have primary care physicians,” said Dr. Ben Bring with OhioHealth.

"I think the burden will fall on a lot of our primary care physicians and possibly trainees just to establish enough capacity to manage the demand of patients that are coming back with results that need to be addressed,” said Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser with OSU Wexner Medical Center.

It’s becoming a burden on hospitals since it's becoming tougher and tougher to establish a doctor.

"A lot of family medicine groups in Columbus, there's not many taking unassigned and brand-new patients,” said Bring.

Doctors say they're finding it's mostly millennials, people 25 to 45, who don't have an established doctor. Instead, they just rely on urgent care if they aren’t feeling well. However, it’s that population who is now testing the highest for coronavirus.

"Most of them do not have chronic diseases they're dealing with. They're young, and they're healthy, and they've really never had a reason from their perspective to establish that health care team,” said Gonsenhauser.

The importance of having an established doctor is being able to go over the next steps after testing positive but also if any post-COVID issues arise.

“Many of them are having a result of some sort of pulmonary respiratory issues that linger for a very long time. It's also just really scary and it's scary without having somebody who you can trust,” said Gonsenhauser.

Hospitals say they're willing to help out now but it's a resource they're not able to lend out forever.

"But at this becomes more ubiquitous as this just becomes part of what we're dealing with the long term as opposed to the immediate response we're going to have to figure out more sustainable ways to do that,” said Gonsenhauser.