One thing that doesn’t change, even during a crisis, is the importance of not delaying your medical care. I want to remind our communities that if it’s a medical emergency, it’s still an emergency during the COVID-19 crisis.

We have worked very hard putting together thorough processes and procedures to ensure patients at Tri-County Health Care are comfortable and confident that they can safely meet with their provider for all of their health care needs. This goes not only for emergency care, but also ReadyCare and regularly scheduled appointments. We aren’t seeing as many COVID-19 cases in our area so this may be the best time of the year to see your provider for regular health maintenance, health screening, and other elective procedures. Safety procedures include screening everyone, including patients and staff, upon entry of the building, wearing masks and other necessary personal protective equipment, and frequent hand washing and sanitizing.

Another high point of focus is on cleaning and disinfecting. Our Environmental Services staff does a great job with their thorough cleaning in all high traffic areas and surfaces. In addition to the enhanced cleaning, we are using an ultraviolet light machine that kills not only the COVID-19 virus, but many other viruses and bacteria that may be present in the exam room. We also have negative pressure rooms in the ER and hospital. These rooms help prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other airborne viruses by filtering the air out of the room.

The reason we have these screening and cleaning procedures in place is to make sure patients are safe and comfortable coming in to receive care. With all of these protective measures in place, and everyone in the building wearing masks, coming in to receive care has a very low risk of transmission.

It is vitally important to seek immediate care in an emergency

Two common emergencies include heart attacks and strokes. Both of these are extremely time sensitive because the sooner you arrive in the ER, the more treatment options we have to minimize any long-term damage.

Heart attacks present as chest pain or discomfort, feeling weak or light-headed, pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back, pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders, and shortness of breath.

Stroke symptoms include trouble walking, speaking and understanding, and paralysis or numbness of the face, arm, or leg. As soon as these very serious symptoms begin, it is important to immediately seek medical care. Technology and treatment have drastically improved, but there is still a limited window where medications work to break up the clots and resume normal blood flow to these vital organs. If these treatments are administered early, we can minimize long-term damage and will save heart and brain function in the long run.

In the case of a stroke, delaying care can lead to long-term disabilities. Additional damage to the heart or brain can have a long-lasting impact on quality of life and slows the recovery process. We prefer to see you return to full health as soon as possible, so we really emphasize the importance of coming into the ER at the onset of symptoms.

Visit TCHC.org for more information on when to visit the ER or ReadyCare. We know your health is essential and that’s why we are always here for your care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.