Doctors stress patients with urgent medical concerns should go to hospital
In a Tuesday Zoom conference call with local reporters, several Atrium Health doctors from across multiple specialities stressed the message that despite the coronavirus pandemic, patients with urgent health concerns, like a heart attack or stroke, should still come to the hospital for treatment.
“Delaying care in many situations makes it harder for the staff to treat the patient, and can result in a less than favorable outcome,” said Claire Simmons, director clinical communications at Atrium. “We want to remind your audiences that Atrium Health hospitals are indeed open for all essential healthcare needs, and they should not wait to come in or call 911 for assistance.”
Dr. Andrew Asimos, professor of emergency medicine, said due to COVID-19, Atrium’s emergency department volume has been down. He said the hospital’s overall suspected stroke rate is down 40 percent compared to earlier in the year. While Atrium is seeing less injuries related to car crashes, with many people heeding the stay-at-home order, doctors have been seeing more minor home-related issues.
The doctors agreed that while “fear is certainly a driving factor” for why people with an urgent health condition might put off going to get care, it’s important that people overcome it and come to the hospital for treatment. Once at the hospital, patients with COVID-19 are isolated from patients suffering from other conditions.
Hallie Lyon, certified nurse midwife with Charlotte OB/GYN, noted that even though some women have expressed interest in having home births to avoid any possible COVID-19 transmission, the hospital is still the safest place for women to give birth.
“Anything can happen during the labor process, like unexpected events, and the hospital is prepared and equipped to handle those things,” she said.
While the biggest concern Lyon has heard from expectant mothers is they fear they won’t have their husband or support person with them in the hospital during the birthing process, she said a support person is still allowed in the hospital.
Dr. Troy Leo, vice chief of cardiology at Atrium, said hospitals across the country, including in Charlotte, are seeing a roughly 50 to 65 percent decrease in the amount of heart attacks, which is still the leading cause of death in the country. He hypothesizes people are staying at home out of fear of going to the hospital.
While COVID-19 is dangerous, Leo notes there are other diseases out there that people shouldn’t ignore.
“While there’s a lot of press about COVID, the reality is stuff like heart attacks, strokes, things that were happening before COVID can still be more deadly than COVID itself,” Leo said.
Although COVID-19 is highly infectious and deadly, it does not seem to infect children to the same degree it does adults, Dr. Andrew Herman, chief medical officer at Atrium’s Levine Children’s Hospital. He said the children’s hospital has yet to see any children hospitalized with the virus.