With hospitals across America focused on people who have developed COVID-19, some people with unrelated but still urgent health problems are feeling awkward about reporting to emergency rooms.
They shouldn’t, doctors say.
It’s true the coronavirus is stressing the health care system. Hospitals have canceled or postponed elective surgeries and taken other steps to make sure they can handle patients who develop severe cases of COVID-19. Everyone, doctors say, can help ease the strain by finding alternate ways to handle routine requests.
But people with serious symptoms shouldn’t ignore them, said Dr. Sarah Perman, associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.
Emergency workers know what to do, she said, even when things seem chaotic. Departments are making plans behind the scenes to ensure adequate staffing and keep patients and workers safe amid a surge.
“This is kind of our forte,” she said. “We’re all trained in disaster.”
As she’s worked the ER in recent days, she’s heard people with urgent needs apologize for coming in. They say, “Wow, I know you’re really busy,” and think they probably shouldn’t have sought help.