Local medical experts in Western New York say they have been surprised by the amount of the decrease in non-COVID-19 patients coming into hospitals.
"The emergency rooms are going to great lengths to make sure that we keep everyone safe and we provide the appropriate care that they need," says Mercy Hospital Emergency Room Medical Director Edward Cosgrove.
Cosgrove says that at the beginning of the shutdown, volume of ER visits dropped almost 50 percent.
According to Kaleida Health, they have seen more than a 60 percent drop in emergency room visits in April compared to the same time last year across the four hospitals.
"And the problem is many of these patients actually need acute care. This Friday alone, we had two patients come in with a heart attack that stated they had delayed presentation because they were worried about COVID. One patient had actually pulled up to the hospital, left, and then came back when the symptoms worsened," says Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital Chief Medical Officer Michael Mineo, MD.
Medical experts say their concern with this type of delayed treatment is that it worsens a patient's long-term health. According to Dr. Mineo, in about the last week, Kaleida Health has slowly seen the number of people coming into the ER increase. They are now up to about 70 percent normal, with some days at 50 percent.
"The problem is these ones that are coming in are still not the normal cases that we had seen. They're the patients who should have probably been seen a week prior. There are many medical conditions where delaying care even minutes could worsen a patient's outcome or even cause them their life," says Mineo.
If you have any life-threatening conditions such as severe headache, chest pain, shortness of breath, or passing out, you're urged to call 911.
"The hospital is among one of the safest places that you can be right now. Everyone who enters the building, including staff and patients, get their temperature checked, and they get questioned to see if they have symptoms. Everyone in the building, staff and patients, wear a mask," says Mineo.
"We follow certain types of standard precautions just to make sure that we wash our hands between patients, etc. So these sorts of things are always done, and just as they were very important before the coronavirus pandemic, they're important now again," adds Cosgrove.
If you have serious symptoms, you should not be afraid to go to the ER. Experts say they are meticulously taking cleanliness precautions.