Published on April 27, 2020

Nash UNC Urges People to Seek Medical Care When They Need It

ROCKY MOUNT, North Carolina (April 27, 2020) –

With the spread of COVID-19, emergency departments are seeing significantly less non-coronavirus patients than usual, and Nash UNC Health Care is concerned that people are not seeking necessary medical care.

Nash UNC has seen a 45% drop in Emergency Department visits in the last six weeks, compared to a six week timeframe in December and January before COVID-19 was present in the United States.

“Some decline in emergency room visits might be expected in a time where many people are staying home,” said Dr. Chris Brock, medical director of Nash UNC’s Emergency Department.  “Fewer car accidents and sports injuries could account for some of decrease, but our data shows declines in patients with major medical emergencies like stroke, sepsis, and chest pain.”

For the same six week time period comparison previously noted, Nash UNC has seen a 26% drop in patients diagnosed with Sepsis, 20% drop in stroke, nearly 50% drop in abdominal pain, nearly 50% drop in COPD, and 12% drop in heart attacks.

“It’s understandable that people might be worried about visiting a hospital, perhaps out of fear of contracting COVID-19 or burdening the health care system unnecessarily, especially when restaurants and businesses are closed to reduce the spread of the virus,” said Brock. 

Nash UNC Health Care, like many other hospitals, have taken major precautions to prevent the spread of the virus among patients, staff and the community,” he said.

Kim Langston, director of Emergency Services for Nash UNC, explains the process for screening and separating patients at the door to reduce exposure of COVID-19.

“We screen all patients and visitors at the front door, immediately upon arrival,” she said.  “Patients with respiratory or COVID-like symptoms are immediately taken through a separate area, and placed in rooms that are isolated from others and specially designed to treat communicable disease.  All other patients are directed into the normal lobby, to be registered and evaluated, then placed in their appropriate treatment areas – all of this in a completely separate area from where the patients with COVID symptoms are located.”

Additionally, the waiting area in encouraging social distancing, proper hand hygiene and wearing of masks.  Visitors are discouraged from accompanying patients to help ensure social distancing.  No visitors are allowed in the respiratory / COVID cohort unit of the Emergency Department for their protection.

“Our staff also use personal protective equipment throughout the entire care process to protect patients and themselves,” she said.  “Patient rooms and all areas of the Emergency Department and hospital are continuously cleaned.  Emergency Medicine is all about providing the best medical care in the safest way possible.”

Dr. Brock calls attention to several medical symptoms that he urges the public not to ignore:

  • Chest Pressure or Pain
  • Severe Head Injury
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Heavy Bleeding
  • Severe Vomiting or Abdominal Pain
  • Sudden Blurry Vision
  • Broken Bone or Deep Wound
  • Dizziness or Loss of Consciousness

“In terms of a stroke or heart attack, time is very important and waiting can be life-threatening,” said Brock.  “If you are experiencing any of those signs or symptoms, call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency department.”

News Media Contact

Kenyon "K.J." Askew, Jr., Public Relations and Marketing Specialist, at 252-962-8766 or by email.

If calling after hours, please dial the main hospital line at 252-962-8000 and ask to speak with the nursing supervisor on duty and identify yourself as a member of the news media. He or she will be able to assist you.

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