Don’t delay emergency care

Emergency departments across the country saw a significant decrease in patients since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many with a 50% decrease.

The concern from clinicians is that people are ignoring their symptoms, either because they don’t think they should come to the emergency department during a pandemic or because they believe it’s not safe to do so.

But that is the exact opposite of what you should do if you’re experiencing symptoms of a serious condition.

Emergencies can’t wait, and you could be putting yourself at risk of serious complications or death if you don’t obtain care as soon as possible when you have symptoms of a heart attack, stroke or other serious illness or injury.

During a pandemic or not, you should call 911 or go to the emergency department if you experience the following:

• Chest pain.

• Shortness of breath.

• Stroke-like symptoms.

• Bleeding that won’t stop.

• Broken bone.

• Or any life- or limb-threatening symptom.

The hospital is a safe place to come if you need to seek care, and many precautions are in place for that purpose. Everyone who enters the facility — staff, patients, and visitors — is screened at the entrance for symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19, including a temperature check.

Everyone is required to wear a mask at all times in the facility and many staff members are wearing eye protection or face shields as an extra measure to keep everyone safe. Social distancing and hand hygiene also are important safety protocols.

In addition, anyone confirmed positive with, or suspected of having, COVID-19 are separated from non-COVID-19 patients. And patients who are having a procedure are tested for COVID-19 prior to the procedure.

Also know that the emergency department is not a Test Iowa site for COVID-19 testing and that you must meet criteria to be tested in the ED. If you seek testing, visit or call your doctor if you have symptoms.

If you are experiencing an emergency, don’t delay your care — call 911 or go immediately to the ED.