Hospitals are where sick people go. Aren’t they? Well, yes and no. During the present pandemic, many hospitals are filling up with coronavirus patients, so they are, indeed, full of sick people. Others in the community, not wanting to risk contracting the deadly disease, don’t go to the hospital even if they should, making hospitals also places where sick people do not go.
That might be all well and good for minor problems, but what about people with infections, the flu, animal bites, head injuries, heart problems or stroke symptoms, for example? These people are all at risk of serious illness or death simply by not getting professional care in time, or at all. It’s a dilemma: Choose your poison.
Englewood Community Hospital’s Emergency Services Director, Kristine Sedra, says her 100-bed hospital is a safe bet during this “perfect storm” of COVID-19 and flu. “We’re a small hospital in a quiet area, with 11 ER beds,” she says. “When this all started the first week in March, we screened people before they got in the door. We go to their car and mask them, and then escort them to a separate waiting room we have created for anybody with a fever or other symptoms of COVID. So they aren’t mixed in with the general public, and then if they require treatment or a stay in the respiratory area, they are treated and eventually discharged from there. We have back hallways and back areas to get them their X-rays, and they are kept completely separate from our general population until their departure.”
Sedra says, “Though we’re very busy, we haven’t had a positive inpatient in May. We’ve been very fortunate in that respect. We’ve been very diligent in our hygiene practices, sanitizing surfaces every couple of hours in the lobby, limiting visitors, wearing masks and full isolation gear when dealing with a potential COVID case, and keeping all high-risk patients who have symptoms completely away from the general public. It has definitely worked.” ECH is well stocked in PPEs and ventilators, and receives what it needs under the umbrella of its parent organization, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). So they won’t be running out of the equipment and supplies
they need to treat their patients. “And we have the capability to create additional ICUs in our hospital if we need to, but we haven’t had to pull that lever yet,” Sedra says.
“If people feel they need the ER, we don’t want them to stay away because they’re scared of COVID,” she remarks. “We have worked hard to make the ER a safe place. We’ve put so much work and effort into it that it’s like Fort Knox. You get your temperature taken, you get screened in a special spot. If you have COVID symptoms, you don’t interact with any other patients in the hospital. We’ve worked very hard to keep COVID out of our hospital, and we’ve been very successful at it. I personally don’t want people to delay care or not get it at all because they’re scared of COVID. I’ve seen too many people come in with heart attacks and strokes that could have been prevented if they had come in earlier.”
Her message is clear. “Don’t delay care. You’re at much higher risk of getting the virus at the grocery store than here. We are safe, and we want people to know we’ve spared no expense or effort to keep them safe.”
So stay out of the storm if you can. But if you have a serious health issue, the ER at our local hospital sure looks like a safe bet.