Indy Fire/EMS, Labette Health issue reminder about ER usage
Leaders with the City of Independence Fire/EMS department and Labette Health’s Independence Healthcare Center have a message they would like to share with the Independence community during the COVID-19 pandemic: Emergency rooms are safe, and first responders are taking every precaution when handling emergency calls.
David Cowan, the city’s Director of Safety and Code Enforcement, said recent data shared by hospitals and emergency response organizations around the nation show that, since the onset of the Coronavirus scare, there has been a drastic reduction in the number of emergency calls and visits related to common life-threatening situations, like heart attacks and strokes. Cowan said health officials attribute the decline, in part, to a generalized fear among the public to enter health facilities because of a perceived risk of COVID exposure.
“People need to understand that our ER’s, our health facilities are safe,” Cowan said, “and our EMS crews are being extremely careful and taking every precaution to ensure the safety of their patients and themselves.”
Cowan noted that some hospital estimates indicate a 40 to 50 percent decrease in emergency cardiology and neurology cases. The concern, he said, is that individuals may be avoiding or delaying necessary emergency care, which can result in long-term disability or death, particularly in the cases of heart attack and stroke.
Trauma cases also are down in hospital ER’s across the country, Cowan said, which is understandable because of the current reduced level of driving and travel.
Becky Mitchell, director of Labette Health’s Independence facility, said the local ER is experiencing similar trends in emergency cases.
“Our ER is safe, and we are open 24/7,” Mitchell said. “We are screening every patient, visitor, contractor – every person – who enters the building, using all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and maintaining a clean facility.”
She noted every person is screened for fever and asked a set of screening questions upon arrival, and staff temperatures are checked multiple times daily. She also noted the facility has ample capacity to care for conditions other than COVID.
Cowan said EMS personnel also are screened regularly and are equipped with the necessary PPE. Additionally, ambulances are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after every call. He encourages individuals who believe they are experiencing a heart attack, stroke or any other true emergency to call 911 immediately. He said emergency dispatchers will ask a set of questions, including questions related to COVID-19, to best assess the situation and ensure EMS crews are prepared to respond appropriately.
“While our dispatchers are asking questions, EMS is already on the way, and our dispatchers will stay on the phone with you, give you instructions and support you until EMS arrives,” Cowan explained. “Please don’t take chances with your health. If you need us, call us!”