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ER visits nearly cut in half since start of pandemic

June 4, 2020   ·   0 Comments

South Simcoe County residents are heeding the advice of health professionals to only access emergency room services when necessary.

Visits to the ER at Stevenson Memorial Hospital (SMH) are down about 40 percent, according to Chief of Emergency Dr. Matthew Myatt.

“There’s obviously some off times but, in general, you’ll be seen relatively quickly. We try to limit your wait time with other people,” he noted, during SMH’s “COVID-19 Virtual Q&A” this month.

Dr. Myatt said if someone visits the hospital for a non-COVID-19 related issue, such as a broken ankle or sprained wrist, they first go to the front of the hospital to be screened for symptoms.

Afterwards, they would come into the waiting room and triage, as they normally would otherwise, he noted.

“The only difference is they’d be wearing a mask and everyone they see will be wearing a mask,” said Dr. Myatt.

“The triage nurse will be more fully protected with a face shield, some goggles, and a gown on.”

Those who have COVID-19 symptoms, but aren’t struggling to breathe or are facing an emergency situation are asked to visit SMH’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre in the lower parking lot instead of the ER.

“But if you feel sick and you want to come to the ER and you feel like you really need an emergency doc to assess you – we’re more than happy to do that,” Dr. Myatt explained.

Meanwhile, a recent change to the ER since the start of the pandemic is that individuals 18 years of age or older are asked to visit alone, without family members, unless there’s extenuating circumstances.

Those who are less than 18 years old are allowed to bring one parent, and the recent change is meant to limit exposure of the novel coronavirus to visitors, noted Dr. Myatt.

Treatments, x-rays, ultrasounds and blood work is continuing but with enhanced safety precautions to keep patients and SMH staff safe.

“Almost everybody has been very understanding of the new policies and procedures that we’re trying to maintain,” Dr. Myatt said.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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