Augusta Health says people should still come in for medical emergencies other than COVID-19
Augusta Health said they've been seeing fewer people since the COVID-19 pandemic started. However, they want people to know they should still come in if they need medical help.
Dr. Adam Rochman is the medical director of Augusta Health's emergency department. He said they've seen just under a 40 percent decline in the number of visits to the ED, which is right around the national average. When people do come into the emergency department, he said they've been waiting longer.
"We're seeing folks who probably should have come, that are coming much later in their presentation," Dr. Rochman said. "So folks who had heart attacks who waited at home 12 hours afraid of coming to the emergency room."
Dr. Rochman said waiting like that can negatively impact your health, and the impacts can be long-term, especially for serious cases like heart attacks and strokes.
"I think the emergency room is a safe place to come at this point," Dr. Rochman said. "We've taken many measures to make it safe."
Those measures include screening staff and limiting visitors. They've also split the emergency department to separate people who possibly have COVID-19 from people with other medical needs.
"We're doing screening of patients, all patients that come in, for potential COVID symptoms," Dr. Rochman said. "If you screen positive, we're essentially direct-bedding you into a negative pressure room."
Dr. Rochman said they believe these changes are beneficial to the health of everyone in the emergency room, and they're updating them as needed.
"We're reacting to the virus," Dr. Rochman said. "We've learned a lot of new things about it, and we're trying to to prevent any chance of us spreading it, and keeping everyone as safe as possible."
For now, these changes are likely to stay in place. Dr. Rochman said they'll have to continue evaluating to see when the department will go back to normal.
"It's probably going to be here for a little while, and we need to learn how to deal with that in our society and still deal with the regular emergencies that are coming in that haven't stopped as well."