Commentary: Hoag Hospital is taking exceptional care in the E.R. with COVID-19 patients

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Social distancing and sheltering in place does not apply in an emergency. People experiencing symptoms of an acute condition that requires immediate medical attention, need to seek it.

Tragically, we have seen instances of patients delaying needed care for life threatening issues such as strokes and heart attacks for fear of COVID-19 contamination in the crowded emergency rooms.

The current reality is that, despite dire warnings, our emergency rooms are exceptionally orderly and possibly the safest places one can venture, particularly when emergency care is required.


At Hoag Hospital, we have established careful processes to keep all of our patients safe as they receive care for any health issue they are experiencing.

Those suspected of COVID-19 are isolated immediately upon arrival. Surfaces are cleaned 24/7 and appropriate shielding of personnel is used to protect themselves and to prevent infection of new patients.

As you watch or read the nonstop news about the pandemic, please keep in mind that 85% of those infected with COVID-19 either have no symptoms, or have moderate ones not requiring medical attention, and that well over 99% of patients infected with the virus will recover.

The same cannot be said with certain other conditions such as acute stroke, heart attacks, bowel obstruction and gastrointestinal bleeding.

If you experience acute onset of crushing chest pain, sudden loss of speech ability, develop face or arm weakness, loss of balance or inability to walk, call 911. Please call your doctor if you develop severe abdominal pain and vomiting, especially if blood is noted.

These are uncertain times, but it is important that people not let undue fear paralyze common sense. If you would normally seek medical attention for a threatening condition, continue to do so today.

We are here for all our patients as always, and we dare to provide incomparable care not just to those with COVID, but all urgent conditions in the safest and most effective manner available anywhere.

The writer is a senior physician executive at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach.