Get­ting safe emer­gency care dur­ing COVID-19 pan­demic

Merced Sun-Star - - Community Classified­s -

News about the COVID-19 pan­demic may make you feel anx­ious about go­ing to the emer­gency depart­ment or get­ting med­i­cal care, and you may won­der if it’s safe to go to the hos­pi­tal.

Cur­rent data has found that nearly 30% of peo­ple are avoid­ing or de­lay­ing med­i­cal care due to COVID-19 con­cerns. Some emer­gency rooms have about half their usual num­ber of pa­tients. But it’s im­por­tant to seek emer­gency care if you have se­ri­ous non-COVID-19 symp­toms or COVID-19 symp­toms.

De­lay­ing care for a med­i­cal emer­gency, such as a heart at­tack or stroke, can be life-threat­en­ing or lead to se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions. Find out when you should go to the emer­gency room, and learn what emer­gency de­pa­trem­nts are do­ing to keep you safe from get­ting the COVID-19 virus.

How are emer­gency

• rooms keep­ing peo­ple safe?

You may be wor­ried about your chances of catch­ing the COVID-19 virus in the emer­gency depart­ment or in the hos­pi­tal if you need to be ad­mit­ted. Data has found that 80% of adults are con­cerned about catch­ing the COVID-19 virus in the emer­gency room. How­ever, emer­gency rooms and hos­pi­tals are tak­ing pre­cau­tions to pre­vent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and help make sure that visits to the hos­pi­tal are as safe as pos­si­ble.

Emer­gency rooms and hos­pi­tals fol­low strict guide­lines for pro­tect­ing peo­ple dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­demic, in­clud­ing:

Uni­ver­sal mask­ing. Emer­gency rooms re­quire that ev­ery­one wear a face mask. Health care pro­fes­sion­als are re­quired to wear per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE).

Screen­ing at all en­trances. Ev­ery­one en­ter­ing is screened for COVID-19 signs and symp­toms.

Sep­a­rate wait­ing ar­eas for peo­ple who have or may have COVID-19. Peo­ple who may have COVID-19 may be asked to wait in sep­a­rate, des­ig­nated ar­eas of the emer­gency de­par­ment away from those who don’t have COVID-19 signs and symp­toms.

Fre­quent cleaning and dis­in­fect­ing. Wait­ing ar­eas, rooms, re­strooms and sur­faces are cleaned and dis­in­fected of­ten to ac­com­mo­date up­dated COVID-19 hos­pi­tal cleaning pro­to­cols.

So­cial dis­tanc­ing. Check-in and wait­ing ar­eas are ar­ranged for so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

What can you do to

pro­tect your­self in the emer­gency room?

Pro­tect your­self in the emer­gency room as you would in any pub­lic place: Wear a cloth face mask. Avoid touch­ing your eyes, nose or mouth. Keep a so­cial dis­tance of 6 feet from other peo­ple. Clean your hands of­ten, es­pe­cially af­ter touch­ing any sur­faces. Wash your hands with soap and wa­ter for 20 sec­onds, or use an al­co­hol-based hand san­i­tizer that con­tains at least 60% al­co­hol.

What symp­toms re­quire

• emer­gency at­ten­tion?

If you have any of these signs or symp­toms, go to the emer­gency room or call 911 or your lo­cal emer­gency num­ber:

Heart at­tack signs and symp­toms, in­clud­ing chest pain or pres­sure; pain in one or both arms, stom­ach, back, or jaw; short­ness of breath; or nau­sea or light­head­ed­ness.

Stroke signs and symp­toms, such as a droop­ing face, arm weak­ness or slurred speech. Other signs and symp­toms can in­clude sud­den numb­ness, con­fu­sion, vi­sion dif­fi­cul­ties, dif­fi­culty walk­ing or sud­den headache.

Faint­ing, dizzi­ness or weak­ness.

Head or spine in­jury. In­jury from a car or mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent. Sud­den or se­vere pain. Bleed­ing that you can’t stop.

Se­vere or long-last­ing vom­it­ing or di­ar­rhea.

This list doesn’t in­clude all symp­toms that may re­quire emer­gency at­ten­tion. If you have any se­ri­ous symp­toms re­quir­ing emer­gency care, go to the emer­gency room or call your lo­cal emer­gency num­ber or 911. Don’t wait to get care.

What COVID-19

• symp­toms re­quire emer­gency care?

Seek care im­me­di­ately if you have or may have COVID-19 and ex­pe­ri­ence any of these emer­gency signs or symp­toms: Trou­ble breath­ing. Per­sis­tent chest pain or pres­sure.

In­abil­ity to stay awake. New con­fu­sion.

Blue lips or face.

Alert the emer­gency room that you have or may have COVID-19 be­fore go­ing in. If you’re be­ing trans­ported in an am­bu­lance, tell the medics. This will give the emer­gency room staff time to pre­pare and use in­fec­tion con­trol prac­tices and wear PPE. The emer­gency depart­ment staff may also give you spe­cific in­struc­tions to fol­low when you ar­rive, such as wear­ing a cloth face mask and wait­ing in a sep­a­rate area of the emer­gency room.

In the emer­gency room, med­i­cal per­son­nel will eval­u­ate your symp­toms, and they may per­form blood tests and X-rays. They’ll de­ter­mine whether to test you for the COVID-19 virus. If your con­di­tion is se­ri­ous, you may be ad­mit­ted to the hos­pi­tal. If ad­mit­ted, you’ll be placed in a sin­gle-per­son room. Med­i­cal staff will wear per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment, in­clud­ing masks and eye pro­tec­tion, when car­ing for you.

Not sure if you need

• to go the emer­gency room?

If you’re not sure if you should get emer­gency care, call your health care provider or med­i­cal team for ad­vice. If it’s out­side of busi­ness hours, you may be able to ask for the on-call doc­tor. If your hos­pi­tal or em­ployer has a nurse triage line, call this num­ber to dis­cuss your symp­toms.


It’s im­por­tant to seek emer­gency care if you have se­ri­ous non-COVID-19 symp­toms or COVID-19 symp­toms.

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