Medical professionals are asking people to avoid the emergency room so they don’t overwhelm hospitals, or contract or spread COVID-19. But one Bowling Green cardiologist is finding that some patients are waiting too long.
Dr. Jerry Roy, an interventional cardiologist who is Chest Pain Medical Director at TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital, said he's had several patients who have been afraid to come to the hospital because of fear of contracting COVID-19.
He said those suffering symptoms of stroke or heart attack can’t afford to put off getting help, and delaying treatment for more than a couple of hours can cause permanent damage. For example, if a patient has chest pain and their medicine is not effective at any time, they should immediately seek treatment.
“We’ve certainly already had cases where patients are waiting on time sensitive diagnoses, where they would stay at home for more than 48 hours before coming to the hospital when things are more of in a dire scenario,” he said.
Dr. Roy said he has a patient who is over 65 who delayed coming in for treatment.
"They eventually came into the hospital. Thankfully, they’re doing good. The unfortunate part is they did have a significant decline in their heart function," said Dr. Roy. "But thankfully, the patient is still doing well.”
Dr. Roy said the hospital has appropriate protective equipment and separate areas for patients who have COVID-19 or are suspected of having the virus. He said patients should not delay diagnosis and treatment out of fear of contracting the coronavirus.
In addition to the urgency of seeking medical attention for stroke or heart attack symptoms, patients who have diabetes and wounds need immediate treatment. Delaying treatment for wounds could result in unnecessary amputations for diabetes patients.
Greenview Hospital has extensive safety measures in place, including taking a patient’s temperature and providing a mask upon arrival, as well as thorough cleaning of all high-touch areas with anti-viral and anti-bacterial solutions.
The availability of telehealth appointments or outpatient visits to diagnose and treat medical issues before they become more serious makes it's more convenient to seek appropriate treatment in this time of COVID-19.
Dr. Roy said as health care professionals have learned more about COVID-19, they are increasingly prepared to prevent and treat the virus.