“Many of us have seen at least one or two cases of a patient who has a serious illness but has delayed coming to Emergency. I saw somebody with a heart attack who came in on day two and should have been there a day earlier. There have been cases of appendicitis that ruptured because they were left too long.”
“We want to reassure people that, first of all, we have the capacity to see them. We do have the staff to see patients with acute medical needs, who think they’re having an emergency. We don’t mind them coming in. That’s why we are here.”
Secondly, Dr. Collins says, Emergency Departments are safe. “We’re confident that we can continue to provide a safe environment for people who come in to Emergency Departments and are worried that they’re having a medical emergency,” he says.
Many precautions are in place in urgent care centres and Emergency Departments to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Staff regularly screen patients and healthcare workers, and all are practicing effective hand hygiene. The EDs are being cleaned and disinfected regularly—in fact, “there’s probably no area in society that is cleaned more often than the emergency departments,” says Dr. Collins.
“We have housekeeping coming through almost continuously cleaning all the surfaces. The staff are continuously cleaning as they work. And it is an area that gets a lot of attention from the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) team.”
If you have symptoms that include fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat or runny nose, please speak to a Health Link nurse by dialing 811 before visiting a physician’s office, healthcare facility or lab. This telephone advice and health information service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and inform them that you may have COVID-19.