During normal times, you probably wouldn’t think twice about going to the emergency room or dialing 911 if you or a loved one experienced a health emergency. Most of us know not to ignore symptoms like chest pain or difficulty breathing. However, the current COVID-19 pandemic is causing some patients who should be seeking medical care to avoid emergency rooms.
Although COVID-19 is dominating our lives at the moment, remember that heart attacks still happen and so do other health problems like strokes and kidney stones to name a few. Ignoring symptoms related to these and other serious conditions due to a fear of contracting COVID-19 could have devastating outcomes.
David Finkle, MD, is an emergency medicine physician at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission and has seen firsthand the effects of delaying care due to COVID-19 fears.
“We’ve had missed opportunities to treat strokes that have affected speech and the ability to walk, as well as patients who were hoping their chest pain was indigestion and instead suffered severe heart attacks,” said Finkle. “We’ve also seen simple skin infections normally treated with antibiotic pills turn into deep infections requiring treatment in the operating room with IV antibiotics.”
Physicians like Finkle want you to feel safe coming to the ER, if needed. If you haven’t been inside a hospital recently, you might be surprised at the new precautions in place. Protecting patients and staff is top priority.
At AdventHealth, safety measures begin at the doors where everyone is screened for respiratory symptoms and a fever. Immediately, each person receives a mask. If someone exhibits symptoms of COVID, staff immediately moves them to a special area, eliminating the possibility of having a waiting room filled with sick patients who might infect others. Within the ER and hospital, COVID patients are isolated in separate units where they are cared for by health care teams specifically dedicated to patients with COVID-19.
All patients and health care workers wear surgical masks and team members treating COVID or suspected COVID patients wear N95 respirator masks. AdventHealth has an adequate supply of personal protective equipment and sanitizer.
Staff members are maintaining at least six feet social distance from each other when not caring for a patient and, like other hospitals, AdventHealth has a restricted visitor policy at this time. Furthermore, the environmental services team is cleaning all surfaces with a hospital-grade viral disinfectant and also using extra UV light decontamination.
“With our extensive safety protocols, I feel safer going to work in the ER than I do shopping at a busy grocery store,” said Finkle. “But it’s OK to be scared. We are too. However, I implore you not to let that fear prevent you from seeking medical care. Delaying health care can have disastrous, permanent complications.”
AdventHealth has four emergency room locations in Johnson County. To learn more about AdventHealth or COVID-19, visit AdventHealthKC.com.