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Don’t Avoid the ER or Doctor’s Office out of Fear of COVID-19

While the state progresses in reopening, many are still hesitant to visit their doctor or go to the hospital for a medical emergency fear of contracting COVID-19. Healthcare professionals have been issuing messages urging patients to not put off medical care, including seeking necessary emergency medical attention.

Is It Safe To Go To The Hospital?

“The last 12 weeks have been both challenging and awe-inspiring in terms of watching how we as a community come together to face a deadly new foe: COVID19. We’ve learned so much, not only about the disease, but also how to protect both our staff and patients from the threat of transmission. We’ve learned how to appropriately identify cases through testing protocols and how to isolate the condition safely with the use of personal protective equipment, which we now have ready access to,” said Dr. Arun Matthews MD, Multicare Auburn Medical Center Medical Director.

Many area hospitals, like MultiCare Auburn Medical Center, and medical offices have added protocols for patients and staff to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way has maintained steps to ensure patient safety during the COVID-19 crisis. CHI Franciscan is leading patient and hospital safety in Washington, according to the latest Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades.

Most health care providers also now offer virtual visits for patients to continue care from the comfort of their homes.

CHI Franciscan offers a fact page, including an overview of the safety and sanitation measures hospitals are taking during this time and a guide to the symptoms that always require immediate attention.

Don’t Delay Emergency Medical Attention

Seeking immediate attention in the event of a medical emergency is crucial, as response time can be vital in the patient’s outcome.

“We shouldn’t forget the dangers of deadly ‘old foes’ such as stroke and heart-attacks,” continued Matthews.  “If you feel the symptoms of chest pain or those of a stroke, we implore you to seek help and know that your community hospitals are able to use what they have learned to keep you protected from COVID19. In many cases, responding quickly can result in drastically lower chances of being permanently harmed.”

Knowing the symptoms of major medical events, like strokes and heart attacks, is important.  Here are some quick symptoms to remember, provided by the American Heart Association:

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Graphic by the American Heart Association

King County Fire Departments: Don’t Hesitate to Call 911

The King County Fire Chiefs issued a similar message to the citizens of King County, urging that 911 be called for serious health concerns. “Fire departments and emergency medical services have experienced an approximate 25% decrease in the number of calls for serious health conditions such as STEMI heart attacks in King County. In correlation with other data, medical professionals are concerned there could be a reluctance to call 911 during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While acknowledging the apprehension to call 911 may be COVID-19 related, those facing a medical emergency should not hesitate in calling 911. ” Emergency medical providers including fire departments, EMS, private ambulance services, emergency rooms, and hospitals are prepared for all medical emergencies, COVID-related or not. While first responders may approach incidents with increased Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) their ability to respond to emergencies has not changed,” states a release from the King County Fire Chiefs.

“Our EMTs and paramedics are available to help, and our hospitals have processes and procedures in place to safely and efficiently isolate suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. Persons experiencing life-threatening medical emergencies should call 911 to receive the treatment they need,” said King County EMS Medical Director Dr. Thomas Rea.

According to the statement from the King County Fire Chiefs, there has been a 10% increase in persons founds deceased upon arrival (DOAs) by fire department crews. Though the cause of death is determined by the County’s Medical Examiner, the increase is concerning to the chiefs.

“While the COVID-19 response can overwhelm emergency services, social distancing and emergency orders in King County have helped to reduce the impact on fire departments locally,” said President of the King County Fire Chiefs Association Chief Matthew Morris. “We have all worked together to establish procedures to keep our personnel and the patients we treat safe and we are here to serve the community.”

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Graphic by the American Heart Association

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