Greenville doctors concerned about patients not seeking emergency care in fear of contracting COVID-19

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Bon Secours St. Francis doctors said they are concerned about a rising number of patients who are not coming to the emergency room during a medical emergency out of fear of contracting covid-19.

Doctors say in many cases, it is causing long lasting damage to their health.

Staff members at Bon Secours St. Francis are urging those who have a health emergency to call 911 rather than stay at home in fear of contracting COVID-19 at the hospital. They say their emergency rooms are safe to enter due to many stringent safety precautions set in place inside its facilities and clinical offices.

Doctors say those with chronic illnesses need to still go to their in-person appointments with their physicians to maintain their health and prevent long-lasting damage to their health.

“It is absolutely imperative they still stay on their medications, they not cancel appointments with physicians, “Chief Clinical Officer Shannon McCowan said. “We’re starting to see an uptick of folks in the emergency room as an exacerbation of those diseases.”

She said there are also growing numbers of patients with symptoms of strokes and cardiac events who are not seeking care.

“They tend to wait and see if it gets better. We are asking you not to take that risk. If you would have come before, come now,” neurologist Kathleen Woschkolup said.

She urges those with any of symptoms of stroke to call 911 right away.

“We have a window of time where we can treat with some medications to have a better recovery and that window is about 4 and a half hours, max,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of stroke for men and women include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?

T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away

To keep patients safe from COVID-19 exposure, masks are mandatory inside Bon Secours hospitals for patients and staff. There are screenings and temperature checks at entrances for everyone and there is a no visitor policy, except for few exceptions. These exceptions include visitors of end of life patients, pediatric patients under the age of 18 and expectant mothers giving birth. Expectant mothers are allowed to have one companion with them.

Many safety measures are happening behind-the-scenes to keep patients safe and separated from those who have been exposed to the Coronavirus, McCowen added.

“There is a section of the E.R. reserved for people questioning whether they are suffering from a respiratory infection like COVID,”McCowen said. “ It’s very intentional how we route supplies. Personal protective equipment is heavier.”

As businesses begin to re-open, doctors are urging people to stay vigilant about protecting themselves and others in order to lower the number of patients suffering from COVID-19 and requiring care in hospitals.

“As you’re going out in the community, those precautions aren’t there, so you have to be aware of the right things to do,” Dr. Woschkolup said.

Bon Secours doctors are also stressing that anyone with concerns about the safety of hospital facilities can call their doctor’s offices with questions.

If you have a question about COVID-19, you can talk to Bon Secours staff members by calling a hotline number, 1-800-700-9011.

You can also click here to chat with a virtual assistant online, which provides links to resources and the latest information about the disease.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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