Courtesy of C-HIT
Yale New Haven Emergency Room entrance (Courtesy of C-HIT)

Emergency physicians and hospital executives are encouraging everyone to practice social distancing, but not delay necessary medical care if it’s an emergency.

“We are still open for emergencies,” Dr. Michael Zanker, president of the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians, said Monday.

Zanker, who works at Middlesex Hospital, said they are still performing apendectomies, gallbladder, and some cancer surgeries with all the proper protection for staff and patients.

He said there are no good statistics, but generally 30% of emergency room visits have dropped off during the past month. At the same time, they don’t know whether they are missing heart attacks, strokes, blood clots or any other serious conditions as a result of the decline in emergency room visits.

He said anecdotally cardiac arrests seem to have gone up, but is it because people are ignoring chest pains or is it a symptom associated with coronavirus. He said it’s too soon to be able to tell.

Whether it’s fear of COVID-19, “people are putting off getting their normal health care,” Kathleen Silard, president of Stamford Health, said Friday.

She said the hospitals have obviously canceled elective surgeries and procedures, ”but people are perhaps neglecting the care they truly need and could create a surge.”

She said on Friday morning the number of non-COVID patients exceeded those of COVID patients and they had to perform some urgent orthopedic procedures for injuries.

“We still can take good care of patients,” Silard said.

No one should avoid going to the emergency room.

“Waiting too long to seek medical attention could make the difference between life and death,” Dr.  William Jaquis of the American College of Emergency Physicians said last week.

Emergency departments across the country are seeing a reduction in patient volume.