Alternative health care options if you want to avoid hospitals amid pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Pandemic fears stretch beyond panic buying and isolation.

As positive cases of COVID 19 surge across the country, many worry the very place they would typically go for emergency treatment now puts them at risk of catching the virus.

But when it comes to health care, you have options.

"I would say about 80% of ER visits, we can take care of in urgent care," says Dr. Dominic Dizon. "It's the 20 percent accident, stroke, traumas that need to go to the ER."

Dr. Dizon, President and Co-founder of Dizon Medicine, says in addition to telehealth visits, urgent care centers like his offer quick wait times and small waiting rooms to limit exposure.

Many urgent cares across Fresno County also provide COVID-19 testing for those who believe they've been exposed or are showing symptoms. Dizon says testing is a way to protect yourself from the virus.

"If you already know you're positive or you've been exposed, it cuts a lot of anxiety and it helps with curbing the spread," he said.

That spread is straining our healthcare and EMS systems.

"Sometimes, patients have to wait in the ER room," Dr. Dizon said. "Sometimes, the ambulance personnel have to wait before they can hand off the patients."

"It's causing delays in turnover," says Edgar Escobedo, Director of Field Operations for American Ambulance. "We often have crews that are stuck in the hospital for an hour to two hours, maybe even longer, so that decreases the amount of resources."

Escobedo says the COVID impact on American Ambulance isn't the call volume, but the toll it takes on staff.

"As everyone in the community, we have employees, hospitals have staff and employees impacted by COVID that are off sick because of COVID or are in isolation becuase of COVID," he said.

He says 40 staff members have tested positive for COVID 19. With 12 currently out, any certified paramedics, even those who typically work in the office, are now out in the field.

"We care for a number of COVID patients, we have PPE and we're doing everything we can to protect our staff but COVID is a very communicable disease," he said.
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