Healthcare groups ask public to avoid ER unless necessary | News

Local health care providers are supporting state health officials who are warning residents to avoid hospital emergency rooms unless necessary in an effort to curb overcrowding and the spread of disease as incidents rise. of respiratory viruses.

“Emergency departments are suitable for strokes, severe bleeding, chest pain, difficulty breathing, head trauma, severe burns and other situations where every second lost could mean life, disability or death,” said Anitra Galmore, chief nursing officer at South County Health.

“South County Health encourages those with symptoms of minor respiratory illness to call their primary care provider,” he said, or visit a nearby medical center.

With the increase in cases of several respiratory viruses currently circulating in Rhode Island and with the holidays coming up, state health officials issued the warning last week. A primary care physician should be contacted before going to a hospital emergency department, they said.

All of this comes as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association are calling on the Biden administration to declare an emergency to support a national response to an “alarming increase in pediatric respiratory illnesses, including the respiratory virus syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza”.

RSV is described as a very common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most people recover within two weeks – but RSV can be serious, especially for the young or very old and those with compromised immune systems.

Rhode Island and states throughout the region are currently seeing high rates of RSV, a common virus that can be serious for some children and adults at higher risk. RSV cases usually peak in Rhode Island in early January.

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The flu has begun to circulate in Rhode Island as well, and hospitals are still treating patients with COVID-19. The ongoing behavioral health crisis and a national health worker shortage are creating additional challenges for hospitals in Rhode Island as cases of respiratory viruses rise.

Illnesses in ER

Last February, the Journal of Personalized Medicine, as reported on the federal website of the National Institutes of Health, pointed out several other problems due to overcrowded hospital emergency departments.

It has been comprehensively demonstrated by various studies on the subject that hospital overcrowding also causes a delay in the diagnosis process and the initiation of treatment, activating a vicious circle that feeds the overcrowding itself, the newspaper has said

In turn, overcrowding also has a negative impact on the triage process, with an increase in the number of patients who do not access triage, an increase in the triage time itself, and an increase in the duration of stay (LOS), the newspaper. he said.

Triage is the prioritization of patient care based on the severity of the injury, disease, prognosis and the availability of resources to help the patient.

In addition, several studies and meta-analyses have also observed that ED overcrowding is associated with a growing tendency to leave the ED before undergoing medical examination and treatment, he noted.

While hospital emergency departments in Rhode Island are experiencing significant overcrowding and prolonged wait times, the advice to only go if urgent care is needed is a double-edged sword for hospitals.

While it helps relieve overcrowding, reduce the unnecessary spread of disease and cut long waits that are at the heart of persistent criticism of ERs in general, the caution also affects hospital bottom lines because visits to ERs have a high price and are a strong source of income.

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They are often three times or more expensive than a doctor’s office visit charge.

South County Hospital said it is not seeing the increase in respiratory illnesses that other hospitals have experienced. Galmore did not address, however, the overcrowding, boarding and prolonged wait times in his ER.

“South County Health is seeing less than a 10% increase in patients presenting to South County Hospital’s Emergency Department with respiratory illnesses compared to the same period last year,” he said.

Overcrowding in the ER is also a concern because it can lead to greater spread of disease to those waiting for service during prolonged stays in cramped quarters in a waiting room.

Gilmore said South County Hospital, however, has tried to address that concern with various improvements to more than 13,000 square feet of waiting and evaluation areas. It included changes to treat and disinfect airflow in patient care and waiting areas.

In addition to South County Health recommending that people strongly evaluate their need for ER care, Thundermist Health Center provides walk-in service and said its offices are ready to help their established patients and those who do not have a primary care physician to call.

“It is important that we keep our emergency departments clear for people with emergencies. We encourage all Rhode Islanders to follow the guidance of the Rhode Island Department of Health in terms of seeking care in appropriate settings,” said Amanda Barney , Thundermist spokesperson.

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“We carefully monitor available slots every day for care at Convenient Care. If we reach capacity for the day, we post a message on our social media sites,” he said.

Children’s problems

Dr. David Chronley, a recently retired South County pediatrician of 44 years, advised that parents should call their child’s pediatrician before running to an ER.

Respiratory distress means that there is increased work to breathe. Called “belly breathing”, a contraction occurs by using the chest muscles to take in air. A parent or caregiver should take a child to an urgent care center if their regular pediatrician cannot be reached.

At urgent care – often less crowded than an ER – health professionals will know if the child needs to be transferred to a hospital.

“The ERs are so crowded, it’s dangerous for babies and children because of other illnesses present there,” he said. “It’s really a better deal if the regular doctor treats the child because he knows the child better,” he added.

State leaders highlighted health.ri.gov/rightplace. This page has links to lists of primary care providers, urgent care centers and health centers in Rhode Island, as well as guidance on when to go to the emergency department.

State leaders also announced last week that a new temporary health regulation would allow emergency medical services (EMS) personnel to work under the supervision of an on-site health care provider at a hospital or other facility. health licensed in Rhode Island.

This regulation is in response to the shortage of personnel in the emergency departments, which contributes to the challenges of overcrowding in the facilities.



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