ReboundManaging the Pressure


Emergency room volumes down while doctors encourage patients to seek care

Posted at 10:50 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 11:18:28-04

WACO, TX — COVID-19 concerns have stopped a number of patients from visiting hospitals across the country for non-coronavirus related care, even when they need it most.

Abdominal blockage sent one Central Texas woman to the hospital, but because of coronavirus-related concerns, she waited a while before actually checking in.

When Cassie Wright felt ill a couple weeks ago, she almost decided not to go to the hospital because of COVID-19.

"I was just more so worried about the patients out there having COVID-19, and I didn't think my issue was that big a deal," said Wright.

However, after days of abdominal pain, she finally decided to stop by Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Hillcrest.

"And the doctors told me that I had to have emergency surgery right then and there," said Wright.

A decision RN/BSN Ryan Lundgren says made quite the difference.

"Ignoring things don't make it go away, just makes them worse usually. In her case, it definitely got worse. When she finally came and started getting care that's when we started to turn things around," said Lundgren.

Emergency department director Dr. Joshua Houser says Wright is not alone. A number of patients are not seeking care right now.

"So across the country, you're looking at about 60% of normal volumes in emergency departments. At Hillcrest, we see about 200 to 220 a day was average until eight weeks ago, and right now we're seeing 80 to 110 a day," said Houser.

However, he says you should not feel discouraged to check in. The team has taken a number of steps to ensure the safety of all patients.

"Everyone's wearing, like I said masks, goggles, full gowns a lot of times. Respiratory complaints in one area. Non-respiratory, non-COVID like complaints in other areas," said Houser.

Houser says whether they are treating COVID-19 patients or not, hospital staff wear masks at all times.

He also says if a patient has possible COVID-19 exposure, out of an abundance of caution, they wait a couple of hours after the patient has left before entering a room for deep cleaning.