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ERs open for emergencies during pandemic

Apr 27, 2020

Q&A with Dr. Brian Hess, Medical Director of Emergency Services, Abrazo Health Hospitals

PHOENIX – Hospital emergency rooms across the Valley are open, and doctors want the public to know that delaying emergency treatment can result in additional health complications, especially in the case of heart attack and stroke.

“Even during the coronavirus pandemic, there is still prevalence of stroke, heart attack and abdominal emergencies such as appendicitis. We are concerned that patients may not be seeking care until it is too late and want to make sure that they are not afraid to seek help because of the pandemic,” says Dr. Brian Hess, Medical Director of Emergency Services at Abrazo Health Hospitals.

“Our community should be reassured that our hospitals and ERs are safe places to help them if they think they may have an emergency. “Patients may have a greater risk of death, loss of function or longer hospital stays with decreased likelihood of complete recovery because they waited to go to the ER, explains Dr. Hess.

“Currently there is plenty of capacity in the emergency departments. We are here for our community as we were before COVID and want to make sure you receive compassionate and expedited care. You will be treated with respect and dignity. Often we do not know what is and is not an emergency until after we assess you with a history, physical exam, imaging and testing so we don’t expect you to be able to do so at home.

“Don’t delay if you think something may be serious or want to assessed by our community nurses and clinicians. We are here for you.”

Dr. Brian HessQ: Are the emergency rooms at Abrazo hospitals open?
A: Most definitely. Yes.

Q: When should patients come to the ER?
A: Don’t delay care if you or a loved one have symptoms that are best evaluated in an emergency room. Call 911 if think a heart attack or stroke is suspected. Examples of things that need emergency care include broken bones, cuts that may require stitches, head or eye injury, shortness of breath. The key is that you don’t wait when you think you are having an emergency.

Q: How does the hospital ensure the safety of ER patients?
A: We screen all people coming to our facilities and limit entry to the hospital, and have enacted visitation restrictions. Our medical professional screeners ask a set of questions and check the temperature on everyone entering the hospital. Anyone that meets potential COVID criteria is immediately isolated to protect everyone in the hospital.

Q: If a pregnant woman is close to her delivery date, can she go to the ER if she’s having contractions?
A: Yes, she most certainly can. We have full Obstetric services at the Abrazo Arrowhead and Abrazo West hospitals. If not an emergency we encourage coordinating with your obstetrician.

Q: How can patients protect themselves from COVID-19 exposure if they need to go to the ER?
A: We have plenty of masks, hand sanitizer, hand soap, space and isolation rooms to keep our patients safe. If waiting to enter the facility, please try to keep six feet apart and wear your home mask if possible. I have yet to see a significant line at any entry point at any of the Abrazo facilities.

Q: Can a patient bring a companion in the ER?
A: Only in certain circumstances, if they are a parent/guardian, in emergency end of life events and when a patient cannot provide a history for themselves. We are limiting visitation to protect the community and our hospital.

Q: Can a parent accompany their child to the ER?
A: Yes. Typically, only one parent is allowed at a time to reduce risk of transmission.

Q: If a patient has COVID-19 symptoms, can he/she go directly to the ER?
A: Yes, they can go directly to the emergency department. If possible, we ask that you wear a mask when you are traveling to the ER. We encourage you to come when you have shortness of breath, high fever that doesn’t respond to acetaminophen or ibuprofen, dizziness, confusion or other symptoms that are concerning.

For more information on ER care and patient safety at Abrazo, visit https://www.abrazohealth.com/services/emergency-room/hospital-er-safety

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