Health officials say many are holding off going to ER for fear of catching COVID-19


DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it seemed that emergency room visits would drastically increase, but that hasn’t always been the case, especially at the start of the pandemic. Centers for Disease Control reports say ER visits not related to COVID-19 are actually down more than 40 percent.

2 NEWS spoke to Network Emergency Medical Director at Kettering Health Network, Nancy Pook, to ask why many so many people have decided to hold off on medical treatment.

“Early on, there were a lot of barriers set up by the state and the hospital associations, etc., and Public Health. And so there were big signs up that said you can’t have a visitor. And so people were afraid to to go to the hospital. They were afraid to get the virus by coming into the hospital, even though we learned early on from the examples in Washington state and in New York state how to do this right.”

She says the drop in emergency department visits became a cause for concern to health professionals when they realized community members were skipping out on potentially life-saving treatment.

“It was really pretty scary when we didn’t see heart attacks and the appendicitis. We were worried about our community early on.”

Dr. Pook explained, even with the pandemic affecting some patients, those with non-COVID related symptoms should not jeopardize their health for fear of catching the virus.

“We were seeing people who came in days after a stroke. There are real opportunities lost when people come in late. Heart attack is another example. You already have heart damage that really is not reversible the same way that it would be if we were to catch very early. And we started to see more deaths that we were calling in the fields.”

And she says symptoms associated with major health concerns have not changed, and should be taken seriously when they arise.

“Certainly, any significant trauma – if you’ve hit your head and lost consciousness or are on a blood thinner, that’s a risk scenario. Chest pain, difficulty breathing, stroke-like symptoms, such as weakness, numbness, dropping of the face – those are real concerns.” 

Dr. Pook said summer is a time when many dangerous conditions or traumas tend to increase, so she’s encouraging everyone with symptoms or to get medical help. To learn what you can do to stay during this summer and for more coronavirus related resources, click here.

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