Chautauqua County Medical Director and family doctor offers practical guidance for when to use emergency services
By Dr. Robert Berke
For a long time, hospital emergency rooms have been filled with people whose medical or mental health issues are not at the level of tolerated visits that might not have actually risen to what health care providers would consider appropriate for the urgent care and emergency services. As we anticipate the eventual arrival of COVID-19 cases to the county, unnecessary visit to the ER and calls to 911 need to stop now.
I understand that when it comes to your health or your family’s health, the bar is lowered on what counts as urgent, but I am stressing that as a small community facing a global pandemic, we need to be very clear about how we tap our emergency health resources.
To help you make a more confident decision, here’s a list of the top reasons to call 911 or visit your local urgent care or emergency room. These list are not exhaustive and you should continue to use your best judgment.
Call 911 or Go to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care
- Heart attack
- Broken bone
- Blinding headache
- Significant injury (gunshot wound or deep cut)
- Diabetic coma
- Severe shortness of breath
- Alcohol or drug overdose
- If you’ve developed a plan to kill yourself*
*For Mental Health, call the Crisis Hotline 24/7: 1-800-724-0461
DO NOT Call 911, DO NOT go to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care
- Ear ache
- Sore throat
- Minor headache
- Low-grade fever (under 101F)
Call your doctor if you have any of these ailments. Your health care provider is increasing their ability to provide telemedicine through apps like FaceTime and has procedures to help address your issue.
Additionally, it is vitally important that you do not visit any healthcare provider in person if you are sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19. We are trying to keep our healthcare workers safe and urging people to call their doctor if they are concerned.
If you do not have a primary care doctor, please call the County Health Department at 1-866-607-6789 who can help you find one.
Dr. Robert Burke is the County Physician.
COVID-19 and Children: A Message for Parents
By Sarah Gipson
If there is one word that defines what we are all experiencing right now, that word would be “uncertainty.” We are in the midst of a situation that is unfamiliar, and it is easy to feel that we are in control of nothing that is happening around us. Schools have been shut down, kids are home all day, play dates are no longer a safe option, and, of course, the health of your children is very high on your worry list.
“As a parent, your feelings of anxiety are valid, but the more you focus on the concrete factors you can control, the easier this situation will be for you and for your community,” says Jamestown Pediatric Associates pediatrician Dr. Lynn Dunham.
She adds that while reassuring data from around the world indicates that children who contract COVID-19 are less likely than adults to suffer from serious symptoms, this also means that children could carry the virus and still feel completely fine. This is why it is so important that parents ensure children practice social distancing.
Her practice lists some simple steps to safeguard the health of your children and anyone they might come in contact with:
- Avoid large groups of people and crowded public places,
- constantly wash both your kids’ hands and your own,
- make sure everyone is getting adequate sleep,
- maintain a healthy diet,
- spend time outdoors,
- limit screen time
- continue immunizing your children against preventable diseases.
- Teach your kids that they have a part to help protect the most vulnerable.
In addition to these measures, there are resources in our community to help parents keep their kids as healthy as possible. “Jamestown Pediatrics, as well as most other offices in the region, will continue to be available 24/7 to meet our patients’ needs. Our goal right now is to avoiding bringing sick kids into the office for visits, but instead provide telemedicine visits to keep our office as safe as possible so that healthy kids can continue to receive routine services, such as immunizations and well-visits,” says Dr. Dunham
If your child is sick, call your provider first. Do not bring them to the hospital, urgent care or emergency room. If you do not have one, call your insurer or the Chautauqua Health Network who can put you in touch with a practice in your area. (Emergency room Go/NoGo)
-Sarah Gibson is a first-year medical student from Jamestown, New York. She recently started the Facebook group Chautauqua County Students in Health Care. Her mother is a pediatrician.
COVID19 and Your Oral Health
By Shelby Adams
Dental facilities around the area remain open but are only taking emergency cases at this time! Any patients experiencing an emergency with their oral health such as bleeding from their mouth, loss of teeth from trauma, or pain and swelling in their mouth should visit their dentist or The Chautauqua Center.
If you are wondering if you have a dental-related emergency, call your dentist first. They can advise you on the best way to proceed with the necessary treatment. Patients experiencing any sort of non-emergent oral health symptoms are also advised to call and not visit their dentist.
Because of risks to healthcare workers we strongly advise that you do not visit hospitals or urgent care facilities if you have a dental-related emergency
Dr. Erin Pender of The Chautauqua Center and Mayville Dental Art says dentists can help by ensuring patients know about their updated policies for in-person visits and check on their personal protection equipment supplies. “While we are experiencing a slowdown of patients, your donation of any extra PPE is extremely valuable,” says Dr. Pender.
The Chautauqua Center is hosting drop-off sites for PPE donations. These items will be distributed to healthcare offices in the area helping fight COVID-19.
Shelby Adams is a Dental Candidate at the University at Buffalo, SDM 2022
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