Coming to a hospital or health care clinic today, during the COVID-19 pandemic, can be very intimidating. Seeing physicians, nurses and other workers wearing masks and various forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) is not the warm, inviting greeting we’ve all grown accustomed to over the years. These scenes can be fearsome and may even cause patients to question whether they should turn around and go back home. No one wants to come to a hospital and be exposed to coronavirus.
That’s why it’s important to take a moment and remember that the masks and other PPE are being worn to protect patients, staff and the community at large from spreading the virus. When you see a physician or nurse dressed in these types of protective clothing, be assured that they are doing what they are supposed to do to keep you, and others, safe. In addition, the environmental services teams at all hospitals are enhancing their cleaning/sanitizing efforts intensely in order to maintain the highest standards of germ-free conditions inside waiting rooms, patient areas and registration departments.
Patients should feel continue to feel confident coming to an emergency department or urgent care facility for any type of illness or injury — without having to worry about exposure to COVID-19. With this in mind, there are numerous symptoms that should not be ignored:
— Chest pains, heaviness or discomfort in the upper body
— Severe headache
— Drooping or weakness on one side of the body
— Shortness of breath, wheezing
— Significant weight loss without reason
— Persistent abdominal pain
— Tenderness, pain or swelling in one or both legs
— Blood in urine or feces
— Suicidal thoughts
— Other symptoms that disrupt your ability to function and perform tasks of daily living
Symptoms like these, and many others, should not be taken for granted. Ignoring them, and allowing them to worsen, could increase severity and ultimately result in life or death situations. “Waiting it out” at home or until the pandemic ends is not an option for heart attacks, strokes and various other critical cases.
If you are still apprehensive, please note that drive-up care is available at ENH’s Emergency Department and urgent care center on South Transit Road (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily) for those who prefer to keep a distance during their initial assessments.
Most important, get help when you need it. Trust your health care providers and seek medical attention promptly. These are challenging times, but your health care professionals are highly trained to take care of you — and protect you from exposure to other illnesses while you are in the hospital.
Jennifer Rogers, MD, is associated with UBMD Emergency Medicine and serves as the director of emergency medicine at Eastern Niagara Hospital. Eastern Niagara Healthlines is a special feature by the ENH System’s community relations department. For additional information, call (716) 514-5505.