COVID-19 fears keeping Houston area patients from using emergency care

Masked caregivers and mostly empty Medical Center streets – a consequence of the campaign against Covid-19.  There have also been other consequences of the near total focus on the pandemic, the unintended kind – that is, a massive number of Texans with serious, non-Covid-19 conditions have avoided critical care.

“Are people avoiding the emergency problems and is it leading to negative outcomes in terms of their health? And the answer to that is absolutely,” said Dr. Jeremy Finkelstein, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Methodist Hospital.

Finkelstein says that since the onset of the pandemic, patient volume in his ER is down better than 50% - which means too many people with life-threatening conditions are forgoing vital care.

And there’s no question in his mind, that some suffering strokes, heart attacks and cancer complications have paid the price with their lives.

‘Those patients would normally call 911 when they were having chest pain or other symptoms prior to a cardiac arrest. Those patients are basically dead on arrival when the EMS gets there,” said Finkelstein of recent fatalities reported by his 150 emergency medicine physicians.

With the number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 here in steady decline and extraordinary segregation and disinfection efforts standard, Finkelstein insists those postponing treatment should strongly reconsider.

“So our message to folks is, it’s safe to come to the hospital. We have plenty of bed capacity to handle patients with any conditions they present to emergency departments,” said Finkelstein.

Bottom line – there’s no reasonable justification for non-Covid-19 patients becoming collateral damage.

Those who need treatment, should seek treatment, sooner rather than later.