WakeMed said the community is following stay-at-home guidelines and avoiding hospital emergency rooms for anything other than life-threatening symptoms or traumas.
But some officials are concerned that people suffering heart attacks or strokes–where timing is critical–may be delaying care, WakeMed spokeswoman Kristin Kelly said.
The American Heart Association of the Triangle posted a video on its Facebook page saying, “Even during a pandemic, emergency systems are ready to help. Serious symptoms like those associated with a heart attack or stroke are still considered urgent.”
Dr. Fernando Gonzalez is the co-director of cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery and a professor of neurosurgery at Duke University. He said the B.E. F.A.S.T. acronym could help you know if you’re experiencing a stroke and need to get immediate care:
- B is for Balance–sudden dizziness
- E is for Eyes–having trouble seeing
- F is for Facial weakness
- A is for Arm weakness
- S is for Speech that is impaired or slurred
- T is for Time
“Yes we need to have the social isolation as a number one priority but at the same time, the trade-off is gigantic,” Gonzalez said. “Missing the opportunity to treat a patient with a stroke in a very narrow window, it’s a huge missed opportunity. If you’re a patient and you’re watching me and you experience one of these symptoms, please call 911.”
For patients who may be afraid to get exposed to COVID-19 if they go to the ER, Kelly said WakeMed has triage tents, where patients with COVID-19 symptoms go. They are separated from non-COVID 19 patients.
“Once you are in the hospital, the precautions that we have are huge,” Gonzalez said. “Everybody’s wearing a mask right now in the hospital. Even the mental personnel and the visitors–the limited amount of visitors that are in the hospital–are wearing a mask. Patients are wearing a mask. That reduces exposure.”
Kelly said hospitals are safe and not to delay care if you have symptoms other than COVID-19, especially when time is critical.
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