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More people showing up in Mid-South emergency rooms complaining of new COVID-19 symptoms

Updated: Aug. 17, 2020 at 8:40 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Back in April, emergency rooms across the nation saw dramatic drops in people seeking treatment.

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Baptist Memorial Hospital-Desoto emergency room physician Dr. Kimberly Brown says people were afraid of catching COVID-19 so they avoided hospitals, even if they were having true emergencies like heart attacks or strokes.

“I’d say over the past month or so, it’s picked up significantly,” said Brown.

Baptist-Desoto’s ER saw a big drop in patients from March to April. There were nearly 2,200 fewer patients seeking emergency help.

Last month the hospital was closer to pre-COVID-19 numbers.

In July the hospital had about 650 patients below where they were in July 2019.

“The fear has gone down tremendously in the community,” said Brown.

However Brown’s job is far from back to normal. In fact, it’s changed quite a bit thanks to the ever-evolving novel coronavirus and its continued spread in the community.

“So this virus is the great masquerader,” said Brown. “It comes and it looks a lot of different ways and it’s not just the shortness of breath that we were speaking of at the start of the pandemic, it can be a multitude of symptoms.”

The CDC lists about a dozen different symptoms for COVID-19 including cough, sore throat or loss of taste or smell.

It’s not an all inclusive list; however, Brown says she’s seeing more atypical symptoms caused by COVID-19 such as neurological issues and stroke-like symptoms.

She’s also seen an increase of patients complaining of abdominal pain.

“I’ve had several patients from any doctor if you described your symptoms to them you would think the patient was having an appendicitis and they would need their appendix taken out, but when we do the studies to take a look and see what’s going on with the patient’s abdominal pain, their appendix is perfectly fine. But we’re seeing signs and symptoms they may have COVID 19 in their blood work,” said Brown.

She says now everyone is treated like a potential COVID-19 patient no matter the symptom.

She says it’s a task she and her staff are prepared for.

“If you need an emergency visit then you need to come to the ER and I’m still here to see you with a face shield between us now,” said Brown.

The CDC says persistent pain in the chest, confusion, bluish lips or face or inability to stay awake are just some of the COVID-19 symptoms people should immediately go to the emergency room for treatment.

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