Don't Let Fear of COVID-19 Prevent you from Getting Emergency Care
Just like hospitals across the nation, Highpoint Health has seen a drop in the number of heart attack and stroke patients in its Emergency Department (ED). Why? I suspect patients are fearful of coming to the ED because they’re afraid of contracting COVID-19. While I understand and respect the uncertainty surrounding this issue, I want to assure you Highpoint Health is taking every precaution to reduce our ED patients’ risk of infection.
We have developed protocols to help keep you safe
The key to keeping patients safe is to ensure we’re taking the appropriate precautions with those who are sick. We’re closely following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to prevent the spread of infection.
Here’s what you can expect if you come to the Highpoint Health ED:
- Every patient coming to the ED is masked before he/she enters the building. The patient is quickly registered and then triaged by a nurse wearing a gown, mask, face shield, and gloves.
- If COVID-19 is suspected upon completion of triage, the patient is placed in a room within the isolation area to reduce the risk of spreading any airborne diseases. In fact, our maintenance team constructed a wall to separate these patients from the general population. Staff working in the isolation area wear full PPE and do not cross over to other patients.
- If you require COVID-19 sampling or a COVID-related procedure, you’ll be placed in a negative pressure room to prevent cross-contamination. The only way air escapes these rooms is through a special ventilation system that pulls it up and out the roof of the hospital.
If you think you have COVID-19, it’s always best to call the ED at 812-532-2700 prior to your arrival. Also, please remember this is an evolving situation that Highpoint Health is closely monitoring. If necessary, ED protocol can be adjusted based on the latest information.
Don’t ignore symptoms of heart attack and stroke
The importance of immediately seeking treatment when experiencing the symptoms of heart attack and stroke hasn’t changed with the arrival of COVID-19. The sooner you get to the hospital, the less devastating the impact. And in many cases, it can be the difference between life and death.
Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain, shortness of breath, pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. For stroke, use the acronym FAST. It stands for face drooping, arm weakness, slurred speech, and time to call 911.
Finally, I wrote this update in response to our hospital’s experience with heart attack and stroke patients. Please know it’s just as important to seek emergency treatment for any life or limb threatening emergency. Stay well.