Delaying medical care can have dire consequences. But unfortunately, that’s what has been happening recently in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data suggests that hospitals across the country have seen a decrease in patients coming to the emergency room for time-sensitive conditions such as heart attack, stroke and appendicitis.
When it comes to stroke, time is brain. Delaying care even minutes can increase brain damage, disability and even death. During a stroke, several million brain cells die every minute. And for ischemic strokes, the clot busting drug tPA can only be administered within the first few hours after the start of symptoms.
The longer a heart attack goes untreated, the more heart muscle can be damaged. Depending on the extent of damage, this can lead to heart failure, arrhythmia or even death. The quicker a person can recognize symptoms, get to the ER and be taken to the cath lab, the better their chance of survival and minimized damage.
If a person has appendicitis for 24-48 hours, the appendix can rupture. This causes the infection to spill into the abdomen and can make a person very sick and can even be life-threatening. That is why it is so important to call your doctor or head to the emergency room if you are suspicious of appendicitis.
When to go to the emergency room
If you would normally go to an emergency room for your condition, you should still go during a pandemic. Some sure signs you require emergency attention are:
- Head injury, loss of consciousness or other major trauma
- Severe abdominal pain
- Signs of a stroke such as one-sided weakness or numbness
- Signs of a heart attack such as chest pain
- High fever
- Open fracture
- Uncontrollable pain or bleeding
- Breathing problems
Hospitals remain safe places for care
There is a perception that hospitals might expose an individual to infection or COVID-19, but that is simply not true. Hospitals have extensive safety measures in place to prevent infectious disease from spreading. Not seeking care for a medical emergency is much more dangerous than going to a hospital at this time.
At Wesley Healthcare, the health and safety of our patients, caregivers and communities is our top priority. We maintain strict precautions and infection prevention measures throughout all our medical facilities.
Some of the steps we’re taking to keep you and our clinical team safe are:
- All patients, visitors and clinicians are screened before entering a facility
- Each hospital has a separate location for COVID-19 positive patients and those who are under investigation. These patients are masked and escorted to designated locations
- Everyone is required to wear a mask throughout our facilities, which exceeds CDC guidelines
- Non-COVID-19 patients, as well as those receiving outpatient care, or patients with scheduled procedures, are treated in separate areas and assigned caregivers who are not concurrently caring for COVID-19 positive patients
- Updated visitor policies, including limitations, which have been in place for the duration of the pandemic
Expert emergency care close to home
“Absolutely the emergency rooms are safe. We take great care to protect people from COVID-19.” says Jacob Ott, MD, medical director of emergency services at Wesley Healthcare. “People should come to the emergency department when they have concerning symptoms [like those listed above]. Don't let fear stop you. We are trained to manage any condition that you may have, and we are happy to take care of you anytime, anyplace here in the emergency department.”
For locations and average ER wait times visit our ER page.