Doctors: Emergency rooms are ready to treat you safely amid COVID-19 pandemic

Many with serious health issues are wrongfully avoiding ERs out of fear of virus

Emergency room doctors say people do not understand how they are operating amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

DETROIT – There are people with serious health issues who are avoiding emergency rooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic because they fear contracting the virus at the hospital.

Doctors say this is not the right perception of emergency rooms right now, including in Metro Detroit.

“It’s a big problem," said Dr. Dave Donaldson, the vice chief at Troy Beaumont Hospital emergency center. “We’re seeing people stay at home with serious issues like heart attacks, strokes, appendicitis, things like that. They’re staying home. They’re not coming in.”

They’re staying home due to the coronavirus. However, they likely don’t know what emergency rooms even look like right now.

What ERs are like right now

For starters, you’re not even allowed out of your car at the ER entrance. That’s where you are screened for the virus. If you could have it, you are taken into the hospital through a separate entrance away from all others. The rest of the ER is quiet.

There are strict safety protocols in place at ERs right now.

“Our emergency departments are very safe. You’re not going to get COVID by coming into the emergency department,” said Dr. Dave Bauer, the emergency department chief at Ascension Providence Rochester. Actually, the contrary is true -- you will put yourself at risk if you don’t come in."

More people dying at home

In April 2019, 39 people died at home due to health issues in Oakland County. In April 2020, there were 110 people who died due to health issues at home in Oakland County. Experts say the rates are similar in Wayne and Macomb counties.

“I think they could have survived. I think if they had called 911 earlier and not be afraid to come in with these serious medical problems, we’d be here to help,” said Donaldson.

About the Author:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.