Dr. Meg Jack: This is not the time to put your health on the back burner
Over the past two months, we have all have faced one of the biggest challenges of our century. The physicians and staff at Carson Tahoe Emergency Department and Minden Emergent Care are humbled by the love and support the community has shown us during these difficult times. We asked you to stay home for us, and you did! Your actions flattened the curve, prevented our health care system from being overwhelmed, and saved lives. Our Physicians and Staff responded, too, showing up every day to care for our community and putting into place the processes needed to deal with this new disease.
Now we see a new challenge, one we didn’t expect. While some hotspots like New York are dealing with overflowing COVID cases, Emergency Departments across the country are relatively empty. Where are all the heart attacks, strokes, appendicitis, and kidney stones? A recent study showed that in the past six weeks, the incidence of heart attacks has fallen by 38 percent. We know we didn’t do anything to cure heart attacks. Instead, we’re concerned that fear of the virus has caused our patients to stay home, even in the face of worrisome symptoms that demand emergency treatment. This new “fear based” behavior is causing more harm than good as the health of those in need deteriorates.
At Carson Tahoe Health, we’ve taken the steps necessary and are prepared to treat COVID while still maintaining our ability to continue treating the everyday emergencies safely and effectively. We have constructed a military-style tent outside the hospital to screen and disposition patients with mild viral symptoms. Additionally, we created negative pressure biocontainment units in the Emergency Department, Medical Oncology Department, and in the ICU which keep the virus from spreading. We frequently and thoroughly clean the entire facility. These actions allow us to separate any potential COVID patients away from other patients in the hospital. Every one of us at Carson Tahoe Health remains committed to taking every precaution necessary to ensure your safety.
There is no downplaying the effects of this pandemic on all of us. However, despite the tragedy, we remain optimistic that we will find a way past this together. In the interim, we will need to accept a new normal, one that allows our society to re-engage responsibly. During this time, if you are feeling sick, please call your doctor. But if you have severe symptoms that worry you like chest pain, abdominal pain, or trouble breathing, please seek the help you need through the Emergency Department or Minden Emergent Care. We are available at all times to help get you well. We want to ensure that fear will not lead you to ignore severe symptoms and cause more significant problems down the road. We are here for you, we will take care of you, and we will keep you safe in the process.
Dr. Meg Jack is medical director Carson Tahoe emergency department Carson Tahoe emergency physicians.