ER visits plummet over fears of contracting coronavirus.

ER visits plummet over fears of contracting coronavirus.

30-03-2020M. À. Cañellas

Caution and fear of contagion have reduced ER visits in the Balearic Islands by almost half.

In March 2019 an average of 418 visited the ER at Son Espases Hospital compared to 275 a day in March this year which is a drop of 44%.

Dr Bernardino Comas says the decrease is “worrying" and he fears that the main cause is that patients are scared of contracting Covid-19.

"If someone has an acute condition that requires hospital treatment they need to go to the hospital, because we guarantee their safety," he says, "people have to stay calm, Covid-19 patients are treated in a different area from the rest.”

There has been a reduction in cases of strokes, heart attacks and digestive pathologies and when patients do eventually go to the Emergency Department "they are more aggravated," says Dr Comas.

"Generalizing is delicate but we have seen neurological or coronary pathology patients that have stayed at home instead of coming to the hospital," he explains, "but in the last week there has been a slight rebound in patients who are not Covid-19."

"They had chronic pathologies that have worsened so they had no choice but to go to the ER,” he says.

061 Emergency Service Personnel usually attend to an average of 1,400 patients a day but that’s dropped to around 500.

With a progressive decline in coronavirus cases, Son Llàtzer Hospital has already closed one of its Intensive Care Units, Inca Hospital has shut down Zone M and other hospitals are considering closing units that were dedicated to Covid-19 patients.

Son Espases is already working draft de-escalation plans by dedicating a specific area of the ER to coronavirus patients "so that whenever there is a patient we can identify and isolate them and there will also be a specific waiting room for Covid-19 patients which will be reduced as time passes and the number of cases declines," says Dr Comas.

On Friday, the Intensive Care Units for critically ill coronavirus patients in hospitals in the Balearic Islands were 50% full and only 12% of the Melià Palma Bay beds were occupied.

"There is control of the care pressure but our guard will not drop next week, or in a few weeks, or in the coming months," said the Health Minister, Patricia Gómez.

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