Time for a Checkup

Craig OuthierMarch 4, 2021
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Let’s talk about spillover.

No, I don’t mean what happens when you mishandle one of those dangerously massive martinis at AZ88. I’m talking about the long-term health consequences of the pandemic not directly related to COVID-19 exposure – i.e. the dangerous side effects of people putting off health screenings, delaying procedures or otherwise foregoing doctor visits due to the uncertain supply of medical care over the past year.

The numbers, unlike that martini, are sobering. And they speak to why this annual Top Doctors issue holds particular utility for our readers in 2021. Among the 597 elite doctors listed in this one-of-a-kind resource, each of them selected by their own peers, you will almost certainly find a primary care doctor or specialist to whom you owe a long-overdue visit.

After 14 months of 24-hour COVID coverage, health care is not at the top of anyone’s reading wish list, but the topic will continue to have special currency regardless of vaccine efficacy this year. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 40.9 percent of U.S. adults delayed or avoided medical care in 2020, including 12 percent who skipped urgent or emergency care. What that looked like in the flesh: cancer screenings skipped, chest-pain episodes unreported, dizzy spells ignored – all of which experts say may manifest in a spike in diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart failure in the coming years.

And that doesn’t even include the so-called “second pandemic” of mental illness pathologized by the coronavirus. According to the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, America is dangerously COVID-weary, and a 30 percent spike in suicide rates since 1999 is likely to accelerate in 2020-2021 when all is said and done.

With 2021 Top Doc physiatrist Bryan Ganter; Photo by Steve Craft
With 2021 Top Doc physiatrist Bryan Ganter; Photo by Steve Craft

“After 14 months of 24-hour COVID coverage, health care is not at the top of anyone’s reading wish list, but the topic will continue to have special currency regardless of vaccine efficacy this year.”

Needless to say, the doctors assembled here can help. We’ve also included a menagerie of news and feature stories to enhance your understanding of our medical biome, including Keridwen Cornelius’ fascinating and informative eulogy of one-doctor towns in Arizona and a stat-and-trivia-driven piece I wrote called Top Docs’ Believe It or Not, which allowed me to clear out a notes file that’s been moldering on my desktop for the last five years.

If health care is really something you don’t want to think about in the midst of our glorious, sanity-sustaining spring weather, this beefy, 360-page issue has plenty else going on, including Amy Silverman’s unspeakably charming, Wes Anderson-ish look at Valley wildlife; and our usual barrage of dining and travel coverage.

I wish there were more fun, in-town events to tout. Unfortunately, many of the annual pillars of our Valley spring – music festivals, food events, etc. – were cancelled or delayed this year.

We can only preach patience. Hopefully, a return to something that resembles normalcy is around the corner. Until then, see your doctor, and don’t spill.

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