People in the Piedmont Triad avoiding emergency rooms amid coronavirus pandemic

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The number of emergency room visits are declining across the country since the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Emergency room visits are down 50% across the U.S. 

Novant Health Cardiologist Dr. Samuel Turner says ER visits at Forsyth Medical Center have seen a similar decline. They believe the downward intake of patients could be due to fears of contracting the coronavirus. 

“We typically see about 250 patients in our emergency room, but that has decreased to an average of about 130 patients per day,” Turner said. 

Turner says people shouldn’t fear to go into the hospital if they are in dire need, including those patients who are suffering from a heart attack or stroke symptoms. 

Cardiovascular illnesses are the leading cause of death. Heart attack and stroke patients need to get help quickly during those moments and time is of the essence in those situations. 

“Every minute that passes, portions of the heart muscle die, and so the sooner you come in, the more likely you’re going to recover. But if you wait, you’re going to have symptoms long-term of heart failure. You may have problems breathing long-term because of that,” Turner said. 

Other physicians with the Cone Health System have even seen some patients die or lose limbs because they didn’t get treatment quickly enough. 

Turner wants people who are experiencing a heart attack or stroke symptoms to know the hospitals are safe even during a pandemic. 

“Our emergency room is doing an excellent job of protecting our patients from COVID-19…you know there are certain areas where COVID19 are isolated, and if you’re coming in with a heart attack or a stroke, and you don’t have symptoms of COVID19 , you’ll be brought to a different area,” Turner said.  

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