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Seek emergency care – even during a pandemic

Every second is crucial when dealing with serious medical issues. Yet hospitals nationwide report seeing fewer Emergency Department patients since the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting concerns that people may be delaying or avoiding care out of fear of coming to the hospital.

“Heart attacks, strokes, appendicitis and other serious illnesses have not gone away,” said Christopher Davison, MD, medical director, Greenwich Hospital Emergency Department.

“Patients who are not diagnosed or treated in a timely manner could experience bad outcomes, disability and possibly death when they otherwise could have been completely taken care of.”

For example, cardiologists strive to open blocked arteries within 60 minutes of the first sign of a heart attack. Some stroke patients may be eligible for mechanical thrombectomy (life-saving surgery) within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms; others may qualify for intravenous clot-busting medication that must be administered within 4.5 hours of symptoms. Appendicitis inflammation that goes undiagnosed can burst and cause a serious infection.

The Emergency Department has taken all appropriate measures to keep patients and healthcare workers safe, including offering private examination rooms; instituting social distancing protocols for registration, triage and evaluation; plus keeping an ample supply of personal protective equipment, including masks, on hand. When it comes to hospitalizations, COVID-19 patients and those who do not have the coronavirus are cared for in separate units.

“Our hospital is safe,” said Dr. Davison. “Emergencies happen. We’re here to take care of you.”