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Emergency room doctors urge patients to not let COVID-19 concerns prevent them from receiving care

stock photo courtesy of Deseret News

SALT LAKE COUNTY – Concerns over COVID-19  are developing in all different areas. Emergency Room doctors report many people may be avoiding life-saving treatment because of COVID-19 concerns.

A recent article from the Los Angeles Times highlighted how ER visits have dropped by nearly half ever since the outbreak began.  Doctors, there are asking, “Where are the strokes and heart attacks?”  Emergency physicians in Utah are asking themselves the exact same question.

Saint Marks ER Doctor Jeremy Voros says, “Definitely, visitations are down probably a third or more.”

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why this is happening, but Voros says it’s hard to believe that people stopped having strokes, appendicitis and seizures.  He says it’s possible the lockdown has kept some people from experiencing the triggers to these health problems, but, it’s not likely.

“I’m worried that patients are downplaying their symptoms because of their fear of coming to the hospital,” he says.

In one extreme case, Voros says one man with serious chest pains waited nearly an entire day before he decided to be checked out.

Voros says, “He, in fact, was having a heart attack.  He’s somebody I would have normally seen much earlier in the course of their symptoms.”

Doctors want to reassure people that emergency rooms are safe for people to use.  Voros says every patient is screened before entering, and anyone showing any kind of COVID-19 symptom is separated from the rest of the patients.  Despite their reassurances, a lot of people are still weary about going to the ER, even when it’s absolutely necessary.

“We’ve had some patients come in and express worry.  They come in for chest pain or abdominal pain and say, ‘Look, I don’t even want to be here because of COVID-19,’” he says.

Voros also says they don’t want people to assume ERs are too swamped with patients because of coronavirus.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

UtahState Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States