When my hospital discharged its 1,000th Covid-19 affected person, it was trigger for celebration—a testomony to the good work completed by selfless health-care employees throughout this tough time. But that very same day, I walked round our emergency room and observed that it had solely about half the amount of sufferers we usually see on a Thursday. The place did all our sufferers go?
It’s a query shared by many emergency departments in New York Metropolis. At Lenox Hill we’ve seen the variety of sufferers complaining of chest ache drop by practically 1 / 4, in addition to a 39% lower in sufferers recognized with an acute stroke. Sadly this doesn’t imply New Yorkers are getting more healthy. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention stories that between March 11 and Might 2, the town had 5,293 extra deaths not recognized as confirmed or in all probability related to Covid-19. Extra mortality means deaths past what would usually be anticipated for that interval, based mostly on historic information, suggesting that New Yorkers are dying at an alarming charge from illnesses that don’t essentially have a lot to do with the virus.
You hardly must be a physician to provide you with a speculation for why New Yorkers are selecting to remain out of emergency rooms. Sufferers are afraid that going to the ER will put them at a larger danger of contracting the coronavirus.
The opposite day, for instance, we have been contacted by a person affected by daylong, intense stomach ache. After some effort, we lastly satisfied him to current to our ER, the place we recognized and handled his early appendicitis. He went dwelling the identical day. Had he let anxiousness get the higher of him and stayed dwelling, he doubtless would have suffered a a lot worse case of appendicitis—probably deadly.
Such instances unfold on daily basis, and lots of don’t have a contented ending. Dedicated to sheltering in place, critical about social distancing, and terrified of contagion, too many individuals keep away from in search of medical care. It is a public-health catastrophe, one we hardly ever talk about, regardless that it claims many lives, significantly of the aged, immigrants, minorities and different weak communities.
It’s time to take this disaster severely. Public-health and medical professionals have to remind the general public that emergencies are nonetheless emergencies, and that the chance of loss of life for folks affected by many different illnesses far exceeds the chance of contracting Covid-19 whereas in search of medical care. Conversely, sufferers must belief that their health-care suppliers are taking each precaution to stop transmission of illness.
Medical doctors and nurses bear temperature checks earlier than the beginning of their shifts, and are required to put on masks and gloves. Sufferers should put on masks as effectively, and guests are allowed on a really restricted foundation after a screening and temperature test. We’re following all of the CDC’s infection-control pointers, with emergency departments adhering to social-distancing protocols and separating suspected and confirmed Covid-19 sufferers from others.
Our emergency rooms are protected. Staying away whenever you want care is harmful.
Dr. Duroseau is chairman of emergency drugs at Lenox Hill Hospital.