County of Marin - News Releases - Routine Health

For Immediate Release
June 11, 2021

As Normalcy Returns, So Should Health Routines

Deferred your own care? It’s time to book check-ups skipped during COVID-19

San Rafael, CA – As Marin County readjusts with the rest of California, local health care providers are encouraging residents to catch up on any health care that had been deferred over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer, kneels down to speak to a seated woman at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis, shown at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, said there is concern about an increase in non-COVID-related diseases after the pandemic.

While sheltering in place was necessary for much of 2020 to curb the virus’ spread, 41% of nationwide respondents chose to forgo medical care during the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Civic Life and Public Health Survey. Americans skipped mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks, cholesterol checks, dental work, prescription medication refills, and other routine health care. In addition, respondents put off mental health care, elective surgeries, and attention to new severe health issues.

“As our economy reopens, there is no sector more important to re-engage than health care,” said Dr. Susan Cumming, Medical Director of Quality at MarinHealth Medical Center. “While the pandemic prompted many health care providers to increase telehealth or virtual health care, there is often no substitute for face-to-face visits.”

A major reason for deferred care was concerns about COVID-19 spread, especially for procedures that take place in a hospital setting. With decreasing coronavirus case rates and growing vaccination rates across the Bay Area, doctors are eager to quash remaining concerns about contracting infection within medical settings.

“This is a matter of public health — we’re concerned about an increase in non-COVID related diseases following the pandemic,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s Public Health Officer. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand for routine care for common conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and depression.”

Medical and dental offices have employed rigorous COVID-19 safety protocols during the pandemic. High vaccination rates among Marin’s health care providers adds another layer of security. Health care workers were among the first to be offered vaccine when it became available in December 2020.

One of the most crucial areas for care is mental health services. Local providers, including MarinHealth, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, and Marin Community Clinics, are seeing an increase of patients with issues related to mental health concerns or substance use disorders. Overall anxiety, depression, and suicidality rates have increased. Others are coping with transitioning back to the workplace after remaining mostly at home for the past 15 months.

“Emotional and physical wellness are both extremely important and go hand in hand,” said Pat Kendall, Medical Group Administrator for Kaiser Permanente. “A mental health inquiry should not be put off. Please take the first step and talk to your health care provider or local medical office to help you connect with local options for mental health care.”


Laine Hendricks
Public Information Officer
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7496
Email: Laine Hendricks
County Administrator website