BANGOR — As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, emergency departments have been very busy.
A variety of departments within hospitals are becoming overwhelmed with patients, and the starting point for many is the emergency department.
“Just due to the high volume and numbers of folks that need to be seen largely for respiratory issues related to COVID, that has really created a traffic jam at the emergency department,” said Matthew Derosby, a physician assistant for Northern Light Primary Care.
Derosby said it’s important to understand that the emergency department is meant for truly emergent, life threatening issues.
“Things that come to mind include really serious issues, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, allergic reactions when people are having difficulty breathing or swallowing, signs and symptoms of a stroke, traumatic injuries that really serious, such as when people have a car accident, broken limbs,” Derosby said.
According to Derosby, when people go to the emergency department for non-emergent issues, it takes away resources and prevents patients who really need immediate help from being seen.
“We’ve got to try to make sure that we keep people who can be seen at other locations when appropriate be seen at those places so that we can let the emergency department folks take care of the people that really need it there,” Derosby said.
Derosby recommended having a primary care doctor to assist with medical needs.
“Not only is that a great place to get your routine and preventive care, but when you’re having a medical issue, you have a place where you can go to have that evaluated and treated,” Derosby said.
If it is after hours or something that needs quick assistance but isn’t an emergency, Derosby said to visit a walk in or urgent care.
“That once again helps to free up the emergency department to do the really high level things that they need to be focusing on,” Derosby said.
If you are experiencing an extreme emergency, he said to call 911 to get immediate assistance rather than driving.