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(Denison, IA) – A review of month to month emergency room visits at Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) shows a steady drop in usage since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Erin Muck, CEO and President of CCMH, said the message to residents is a simple one: “Our emergency room is open and safe; please come if you feel you are experiencing an emergency.”

Muck, a former Emergency Room nurse, commented it seems many patients with serious conditions were delaying seeking emergency care.

CCMH is not alone in this observation. Many emergency room physicians nationwide have reported anecdotal drops in admissions for conditions like heart attacks and strokes, suggesting that patients are putting off or avoiding ER visits over fear of contracting COVID-19.

Muck noted that fear is certainly one component of the response.

"I think fear is certainly part of it. Everyone thinks they're going to catch COVID-19 if they show up in the ER”, said Muck.

Across the United States, hospital admissions for certain health issues — inflamed appendices, infected gall bladders, bowel obstructions, chest pains and stroke symptoms — have dropped, according to some physicians and preliminary research. Some physicians predict they will soon see more patients who delayed care until symptoms became unbearable.

Muck listed the sorts of emergency symptoms when patients may call ahead or dial 9-1-1 and immediately come to the ER:

  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Serious accidents
  • Fall on, or hit to the head, followed by confusion, blurred vision, or headache
  • Loss of consciousness • Sudden and severe abdominal pain or headache
  • Seizures
  • Poisoning or suspected poisoning
  • Bleeding that will not stop or deep cuts
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings

"We've had zero cases of healthcare-acquired COVID-19 at CCMH, everyone is trained, we have no shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and our processes are solid," Muck said. "We just need to remind people that if you're having serious health symptoms, don't be afraid to call ahead or dial 9-1-1 and come in."