Valley doctors seeing dip in emergency room visits

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Despite a gradual rise in COVID-19 cases, local hospitals say they've seen a dip in emergency room visits.

By now we've all seen pictures of packed emergency rooms due to the global pandemic, but local doctors say they've actually seen an alarming drop in hospital visits as of late.

"ER's as a whole in the Central Valley are experiencing a decline in the volume of patients with non-COVID related emergency care needs," said Dr. Manav Sidhu at UCSF Fresno.

Dr. Sidhu wants patients not to be afraid to seek medical attention for a serious issue amid the outbreak. The concern is that people with emergency room-type health complaints are staying at home or delaying care for fear of getting COVID-19.

Experts say failure to act quickly could put some at higher risk than even the coronavirus.

"If we look at an appendicitis, for instance, the appendix could rupture, leading to a severe infection. Now had you presented earlier, it would be easier to take out that appendix with a smaller incision, but now it's going to be a large incision, and you're probably going to be on antibiotics for an extended period of time."

Experts say California's early shelter-in-place order bought time for hospitals to prepare for the potential influx of COVID-19 patients while still being able to treat non-COVID-19 patients.

"If you're presenting with symptoms that we are suspecting COVID in, then there's a different place you would go. Different areas of the ER you would go as well that are separate from people that have non-COVID related complaints," Dr. Sidhu said.

If you do experience a serious health issue, doctors say not to hesitate and seek medical attention right away. That decision could save your life.
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