HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn (WDEF) – Like other large cities across the nation, Chattanooga area hospitals are seeing a dramatic decrease in patients seeking medical care.
Doctors say non-coronavirus related emergencies such as broken bones, heart attack, and major traumas have decreased rapidly, and this has them concerned.
The significant decrease in the number of emergency patients is an indication to doctors that people may be risking their health over fear of the coronavirus.
Doctors say avoiding emergency care may, in some cases, be doing more harm than good.
CEO of Erlanger’s Children’s Hospital, Don Mueller, says they have seen a 71 percent decrease in children coming into the Emergency Department, which isn’t always a bad thing.
“Not as many children are getting ill right now because of social isolation. They are not trading germs at school or on the playground. They are also not competing in club sports. So that means kids are not being injured, breaking bones,” says Don Mueller, CEO of Erlanger’s Children’s Hospital.
Cardiologist Dr. Vimal Ramjee, at CHI Memorial, says they are implementing Telehealth visits to stay in touch with all their patients in the hope of preventing any major emergencies.
“ There’s a benefit to help keep those routine visits with patients who are established but also in some instances to see folks who are not doing well. That does help to hopefully reduce the number of people who are just sitting at home, not feeling well, getting sick, and those who really need to go get evaluated,” says Dr. Vimal Ramjee, Cardiologist at CHI Memorial.
Women’s Services Director for Parkridge East, Lori Salmon, says if you are an expectant mother it is completely safe to have your baby in the hospital.
“We know people are avoiding the hospital as much as possible but this is a safe place. We are taking lots of precautions to make sure that we give them safe care , that we give them the best experience. This is such an important time during their life. You do not get this back,” says Lori Salmon, Women’s services director at Parkridge East.
Officials still suggest that patients call their local hospital before walking into an emergency room, but say that if you know you are in need of emergency medical care, there is no need to hesitate.