Emergency room visits decline at some Mid-South hospitals; Doctor blames COVID-19 fears

Updated: Apr. 22, 2020 at 9:35 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Things are now looking a lot different in emergency rooms across the Mid-South.

“It’s been a little less hectic than what I’m typically used to,” said Dr. Kimberly Brown, who works at Baptist-Desoto Hospital.

According to numbers provided by a Baptist Hospital spokesperson, ER visits between March 15 and April 15 of this year are down 27% in comparison to this time last year.

Those numbers represent the entire Baptist hospital system.

Dr. Brown doesn’t think there are less people who are sick, but people who are afraid of going to the emergency room out of fear of catching COVID-19.

“One of the concerns that I’m having is people are staying at home with conditions that could be pretty easily treated in the hospital, and unfortunately, they are dying at home," said Brown.

For those that do go to the emergency room, Brown has noticed an uptick of patients now coming in very sick.

More patients need to be admitted into the hospital versus being treated and released.

Brown says it’s important to note that Baptist is taking extra precautions, including checking everyone’s temperature, special screening for COVID-19 symptoms and giving everyone a mask.

Plus, possible COVID-19 patients are treated on a different floor.

“Just because there’s a pandemic going on doesn’t mean other emergencies don’t happen, and yes, we’re all concerned about COVID-19, but we’re also taking care of other emergencies that you may have as well,” said Brown.

A spokesperson for St. Francis Hospital is offering a similar message.

“We continue to treat all patients that require care and present at our hospital, and we want our community to know it is safe for patients to come to the hospital and our emergency department,” said St. Francis Hospital spokesperson Shelly Weiss.

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