Emergency room visits in Hampton Roads continue to decline, doctors say it's a 'dangerous' trend

Posted at 11:30 PM, May 06, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - Emergency departments are usually filled with patients in need of immediate care, but doctors say ever since COVID-19, it’s been quiet.

“To be honest, everything is down across the board,” said Dr. Jordan Asher.

From March 15 to April 15, 2019, Sentara Emergency Departments saw 70,134 visits. Since March 15 of this year, they’ve had over 42,000. That’s almost a 40% decline.

Dr. Asher is the chief physician with Sentara Healthcare. He says this decreasing trend of patients coming is dangerous.

"The two major areas that’s really concerning to us is are heart attacks as well as strokes,” he adds.

Other doctors in the region share the same concerns.

“I’ve heard patients state that they were concerned they would get COVID-19,” said Dr. Gary Kavit. He’s the Medical Director of ED at Regional Medical Center.

He says your chances of dying from a chronic illness is higher if you wait.

“If your complaint is that you are having chest pain, you are much more likely to die of a heart attack than COVID-19,” adds Dr. Kavit.

Doctors say they are glad the community is listening to the advice to stay home, but if you feel like you're having a medical emergency, you should go to the emergency department right away.

“Especially something like appendicitis - if you wait too long and your appendix ruptures, you’re going to have more complications,” adds Dr. Kavit.

He says people who are concerned about going to the ED with fears of catching COVID-19 have nothing to worry about.

“We keep our respiratory COVID-19 patients in a separate area of the emergency department. All of our patients are in private rooms. There are no closed off curtains,” said Dr. Kavit.

Sentara is reminding the community that all of their EDs are open and prepared to safely care for all medical emergencies.

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