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Important: COVID-19 Testing, Booster, & Visitor Policy

The ED is Still Here For You

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Laura Zabriskie

November 12, 2020
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people delayed medical care out of fear of being exposed to the virus. Unfortunately, this led to patients not receiving the care that they needed. In this episode of Greater Living Live, Mark Fisher, MSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, Senior Nurse Manager of Emergency and Pediatric Services at GBMC, spoke with Mary Beth Marsden to explain the current situation in the Emergency Department (ED) and provide advice for when people should seek emergency care.

“When the pandemic began, everyone was fearful of the unknown, but as we’ve gone through this, we’ve learned much more about the virus,” said Mark. “The additional information has given people some comfort and we are seeing people return to receive typical emergency care.” He recommended coming to the ED if you develop sudden or unexplained new symptoms. Mark explained that if you begin experiencing symptoms that you’ve never had before, it is important to seek care immediately because it could be a sign of a serious health event. Other symptoms that call for emergency care include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
  • Fainting or sudden dizziness
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden changes in vision
  • Confusion or changes in mental status
  • Any sudden or severe pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal thoughts

  • While patients are once again seeking care, some are still hesitant to call 911 and would prefer to drive themselves to the ED in order to reduce potential exposure to COVID-19. When asked whether it is better to come to the ED in an ambulance or to drive yourself, Mark responded “We want people to use their own judgment, but emergency medical personnel can begin care sooner than you would receive it if you came to the hospital yourself. If you’re having symptoms that could be signs stroke or cardiac issues, I would strongly recommend calling 911 because they can start interventions sooner and time is of the essence.”

    If you choose to drive yourself to the ED, MyChart, GBMC’s patient portal, has a new feature called “On My Way” that will notify the ED that you are coming. This allows staff to begin processing patient information and streamline your care when you arrive. “We’re very excited about the innovation that is happening in emergency care,” Mark expressed. “The app can also recommend that you call 911 if your symptoms require immediate care.”

    The GBMC ED was recently renovated to better serve patients and improve efficiency. “The frontline ED staff, the infection prevention team, and GBMC’s safety team were able to provide input and make this renovation as effective as possible,” explained Mark. GBMC also continues to follow public health guidelines to keep patients safe. In addition to frequent cleaning and mask wearing, the ED has put in place visual cues, like signage and floor stickers, to aid with physical distancing and educate patients on safety best practices.

    “Please don’t put off getting care if you need it. If you feel like you’re having an emergency, call 911 or come to the ED right away,” said Mark. “We are still here for you.”
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