The global pandemic has certainly changed the world and how we now think and react to situations in our lives. Please do not allow this to delay or change your thought process during an emergency. Many hospitals are seeing fewer heart attack and stroke patients, it does not mean those events are on a decline. Recent statistics indicate an increasing number of people are not calling 911, and are delaying or avoiding critical care, due to the presence of COVID-19.
That is extremely dangerous — and possibly deadly. Heart disease and stroke are still the world’s leading causes of death. We certainly hope no one will encounter a medical emergency especially during these challenging times, but should you be faced with one, below are many concerns that run through our minds during the moments that could make all the difference.
MYTH: I can get to the hospital and get treated more quickly if I drive myself.
REALITY: Heart attack and stroke treatment begins in the ambulance. Research shows calling 911 helps patients get treated more quickly. Calling 911 also helps get you to the right hospital that can best treat your condition.
DOUBT: It is probably nothing. I will be fine after I take a nap.
RESPONSE: Take nothing for granted: it can be the difference in saving your life or the life of a loved one. Every minute counts. Symptoms such as chest pain; pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, or jaw; and shortness of breath are still symptoms of heart attack. Sudden face drooping, weakness in an arm or leg, or speech difficulty are stroke symptoms. Any of these symptoms required emergency care in the past. They still require emergency care now.
DOUBT: I do not want to be a bother to busy Emergency Medical Services.
RESPONSE: The ER professionals train for years to help people with heart attacks, strokes, and other medical emergencies. They are committed to saving lives. First responders are trained to avoid spreading germs, being even more careful now. But in some areas, calls to 911 and visits to Emergency Rooms are at historic lows during COVID-19. You need to be seen in an emergency department that’s qualified and capable of taking care of a cardiac or stroke emergency That is true any day, even during COVID-19.
FEAR: I’m afraid of getting the coronavirus. I’ll be safer at home.
RESPONSE: Calling 911 at the first sign of a heart attack or stroke could save your life, or a loved one’s. From dispatchers to first responders, the ER response system is prepared to help you safely and quickly, even during a pandemic. Hospitals are following protocols to sanitize, socially distance and keep infected people away from others. Many now have separate emergency rooms, operating rooms, cardiac catherization rooms and ICUs to separate COVID-19 patients.
FEAR: Afraid of being alone at the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RESPONSE: Of course, it is difficult to be alone in the hospital. There is no getting around that. But it is better to be alone for a week or two than to leave your family forever.
Heart attacks and strokes can be deadly or lead to serious disability. The sooner you get help, the better — and the more likely you will be alive to see your loved ones again.
FEAR: I’m afraid I can’t afford an ambulance or a hospital visit. My insurance might not cover it.
RESPONSE: You cannot afford NOT to call 911. A heart attack or stroke can cause death or lead to permanent disability if not treated quickly.
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act is a federal law that requires anyone being treated in a hospital emergency department with an emergency condition to be stabilized and treated, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.
The federal Affordable Care Act generally requires most health plans to cover emergency services. Any health plan providing benefits for emergency services must cover them regardless of whether the health care provider or hospital is an in-network provider. In addition, the plan cannot impose a copayment or coinsurance on out-of-network emergency services that’s greater than the in-network cost.
It will be safer in the long run to call 911 and get to the hospital instead of allowing COVID-19 to change how we would otherwise react.
Please Be Safe and Stay Healthy!