Don't Let Fear Keep You From Seeking Emergency Care

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By News Team on April 21, 2020

They say that every cloud has a silver lining. As we all huddle together under the storm of COVID-19, one silver lining is notable: fewer people are rushing on the roads from place to place, so emergency departments (EDs) across the country have seen a significant decrease in major traumatic injuries.

Level 1 Trauma Centers like Carilion Clinic see any reduction in the need for trauma care as a good thing.

At the same time, however, EDs are also seeing a decrease in people coming in with the kinds of medical emergencies that can’t be treated properly anywhere else. And that has medical experts concerned.

It makes sense that COVID-19 is affecting the number of traumatic injuries that we see. But heart attacks and stroke don’t decrease in challenging times.

Why to Go to the ED
Much is still unknown about COVID-19 and the prospect of contracting it is worrisome for everyone. But we do know how to prevent the spread of infection, and no place is more skilled and practiced at prevention than hospitals.

Since the emergence of COVID-19, Carilion Clinic EDs are putting new prevention protocols in place every day that build on a long history of award-winning safety and quality measures intended to protect patients, families and staff.

image listing the signs of a heart attack in bright colors on red background
Don't hesitate to seek emergency care when you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms of heart attack. Women may experience fatigue and flu-like symptoms as well.

"Carilion Clinic EDs have created separate treatment areas to distance those patients with known or suspected COVID-19 illness from those whose emergency is not COVID-19 related," said John Burton, M.D., Carilion Clinic's chair of Emergency Medicine.

"Our staff have been trained in extensive screening techniques for distinction of COVID-19 related emergencies," he said. "And Carilion ED staff are sensitive to the concerns that patients and their families have with regard to all emergencies in this time of heightened concern for infection and illness."

Ignoring injuries or symptoms of serious illness can result in a longer, less complete recovery, or worse.

Don’t let fear of coronavirus keep you from getting the care you need in an emergency.

When to Go to the ED
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women, and stroke is the leading cause of disability. Even in the midst of a pandemic, you should not ignore the signs of heart attack and stroke: call 911 or come to the ED immediately.

    Call 911 immediately if you or a loved one experience the signs of stroke: unsteady balance, eyesight changes, face drooping, weakness or numbness in the arm or speech difficulties.

    If you or a loved one experience any of the following, call 911 or come to the emergency room:

    • Allergic reactions
    • Changes in mental status or confusion
    • Chest pain
    • Severe shortness of breath
    • Seizures
    • Severe difficulty breathing/respiratory distress
    • Severe pain
    • Stroke symptoms
    • Uncontrolled bleeding

    Do not delay treatment for trauma-related injuries either. Call 911 or come to the ED if you or a loved one experience:

    • Major trauma/injuries
    • Injuries following a motor vehicle crash or a fall from a height
    • Serious head injury (with vomiting, loss of consciousness and/or changes in normal behavior)
    • Burns with blisters or white areas or over a large area
    • Obvious broken bone

    Recognize COVID-19 Symptoms
    Call your primary care provider if you experience the classic symptoms of COVID-19:

    • Dry cough
    • Fever
    • Mild or moderate shortness of breath

    Emergencies don’t stop. Neither do we.

    We will get through this. Let’s be stronger and healthier when we do.

    Carilion Clinic message saying wash your hands and stay home when you are sick
    Visit for up-to-date information about our response to COVID-19. Call our Community Hotline for general questions about symptoms, resources, guidelines and more.

    COVID-19 Community Hotline

    Monday - Friday, 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

    Do not call the Community Hotline to make appointments, or to request testing or test results. For information about COVID-19 and your personal health, talk with your primary care provider