Doctors warn against putting off emergency needs

Dr. Barry Mangel

With the coronavirus pandemic scare, many people have put off time-sensitive essential health issues.

Many healthcare workers are concerned that people are neglecting their health in an attempt to avoid the emergency room.

Hospitals have implemented new and expanded infection prevention to assure patients that emergency rooms are safe.

“We have seen a reduction in the number of emergency room visits,” said Dr. Barry Mangel, Chief Cardiology Officer at Wellstar Health System. “Some people are ignoring the signs of heart attacks and strokes and putting it off. If you wait too late in the process, you cause damage that can’t be reversed.”

Mangel estimates about a 40-50% in reduction of patients going to the emergency room with time-sensitive issues, especially those that are experiencing signs of a heart attack or strokes.

He said seeking help early is crucial to the healing process.

“Getting help early is a critical time for patients that are experiencing a heart attack or stroke,” Mangel said. “The heart is a muscle, and you can lose critical time early. It has some functions that you can’t get back. Treating it early will help in the long term.”

On Monday, Wellstar Douglas Hospital and other hospitals in the Wellstar Health System started the process of letting patients begin having elective surgeries.

The hospital has put safety measures in place for those that will be having non-emergency surgery.

According to a hospital news release, under the new safety guidelines, patients will be screened by telephone for COVID-19 related symptoms four days prior to surgery.

On the day of surgery, COVID-19 negative patients will be re-screened and required to wear a mask before entering a Wellstar facility, and will follow a separate pathway, including the doors they enter and exit from, the operating room used, and attending personnel, to ensure separation from COVID-19 positive patients.

“As effective social distancing measures continue to help stabilize the influx of COVID-19 cases, Wellstar is prioritizing the health and well-being of patients with emergent and time-sensitive needs to avoid worsening conditions and potential harm,” said Dr. William Mayfield, chief surgical officer, Wellstar Health System. “Although we are not performing any and all procedures at this point, resuming a number of these time-sensitive, essential surgeries will enable us to safely care for patients with health needs that can be addressed with medical interventions. We remain focused on quality and safety for each and every Wellstar patient, no matter their medical need.”