The COVID-19 pandemic has people across the nation being more cautious about how they navigate their lives. But caution can have a downside when it comes to getting necessary care for non-COVID health concerns.
Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC), Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare, The Hospitals of Providence, El Paso Children’s Hospital (EPCH) and William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) want to remind the public that they should not let coronavirus fears prevent them from seeking care for heart attacks, strokes, child well-visits and other emergencies.
A troubling trend of patients delaying or avoiding emergency care has emerged as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, emergency department visits for acute, life-threatening conditions declined significantly in the 10 weeks after the U.S. declared a national emergency due to COVID-19.
The CDC found that myocardial infarction (heart attack) visits fell by 23 percent, stroke visits by 20 percent, and hyperglycemic crisis (high blood glucose associated with diabetes) visits by 10 percent.
The largest declines in heart attack and stroke visits were observed among adults 65 and older. Incidents of stroke victims waiting too long to seek emergency care has resulted in a substantial increase of patients who could no longer be helped with clot-busting drugs.
As stroke-causing clots harden, they become unresponsive to drugs that could potentially halt damage and restore blood flow to the brain. Those numbers are still down compared to the same time last year. El Pasoans are urged to get the care they need now and not delay any further.
When people have acute or life-threatening conditions and need care, they should not hesitate to come to the hospital – it’s a safe place for all patients. It’s much safer than not coming to the hospital to receive care.
Health care officials also remind the public that it’s important for people with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart issues, to continue with their regular medical appointments. Without consistent care, these conditions may worsen.
A CDC report compared emergency department visits from Jan.-May 2019 and Jan.-May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2019 comparison period, 12 percent of all ED visits were in children aged 10 years old or younger, compared with 6 percent during the early pandemic period.
Among children 10 years old and younger, the largest declines year-to-year in emergency department visit were for:
• Influenza, 97 percent decrease
• Otitis media, 85 percent decrease
• Other specified upper respiratory conditions, 84 percent decrease
• Nausea and vomiting, 84 percent decrease
• Asthma, 84 percent decrease
• Viral infection, 79 percent decrease
• Respiratory signs and symptoms, 78 percent decrease
• Abdominal pain and other digestive or abdomen symptoms, 78 percent decrease
• Fever, 72 percent decrease
Other reasons for emergency department visits for all ages include appendicitis, chest pain, poisoning, abdominal discomfort, sprains and broken bones.
Pediatric care sites have implemented safety protocols to ensure the best patient care is provided during these times. If a child has an upcoming appointment, rest assured everything possible is being done to keep patients and their families safe.
Every case will be carefully discussed while observing social distancing and recommended CDC guidelines. Parents should not delay treatment or appointments for their child’s or family’s health and safety.
TTP El Paso, UMC, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare, The Hospitals of Providence, EPCH and WBAMC are vigilant when it comes to sanitation, screening, visitor restrictions, masking, and following guidelines from the CDC to ensure emergency visits are as safe as possible.
Hospitals and medical staff will do everything possible to heal and save lives. The ability to do this for patients and their loved ones is greatly improved when help is sought out, when it’s needed. Please, do not delay your care.
If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.
For more information about these health care providers’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic and procedures to ensure the health and safety of patients, visit: