Fear of the ER in the Era of Coronavirus

Across the United States, and the rest of the world, emergency room staff are witnessing concerningly-low patient volumes. This trend is being seen in the Houston-area, as well, with both hospitals and freestanding ERs documenting record-low patient volumes. At Neighbors Emergency Center, our centers have seen a decline in patient volume of 38%. 

This is concerning because it means that people who are in need of emergency medical treatment are forgoing care. While some of the reduced volume can be attributed to a decrease in traumatic injuries from a reduction in traffic accidents, sports injuries, and the like, there is unlikely to be a significant decline in emergencies stemming from impairment or failure of bodily functions, such as heart attacks, appendicitis, or stroke. The CDC reports that of approximately 139 million ER visits in 2017, only 40 million of those were injury-related.

A report from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology compared treatment for blockages of major arteries during the COVID outbreak this past March, with treatments from Jan. 1, 2019 through Feb. 2020. It found a 38% drop in nine high-volume cardiac catheterization labs across the country. 

In fact, many are reporting a fear of contracting COVID-19 as contributing to avoiding an emergency room visit. An online Gallup poll taken March 28 to April 2 reported that 86% of people with heart disease said they would be moderately to very concerned about being exposed to coronavirus if they were in need of medical treatment. 

“People need to know that emergencies are still going to occur, and they still need to be treated. During cardiac events, strokes, appendicitis, and many other emergency situations, time to treatment matters and can be the difference in saving a life,” says Lauren Cotton, COO of Neighbors Emergency Center. 

Our six Neighbors Emergency Center locations always work to ensure safety and cleanliness, with virtually no wait time in a crowded waiting room and private rooms for each patient, which is especially beneficial in preventing the spread of disease. All ER staff are trained in infection control, but we are also ensuring we are following CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of Coronavirus. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing emergency symptoms, please seek treatment. Emergency situations, by their nature, only deteriorate with time. The longer a person waits, the worse the outcome. When in doubt, you can certainly call one of our centers with questions – nec24.com/locations.