Emergency Services Taking Steps to Protect Patients With Non-COVID Health Crises

Lake Huron Medical Center and Tri-Hospital EMS want to assure the public that it is safe to seek emergency care if they are experiencing a non-COVID-19 health crisis. In light of the current pandemic, hospital emergency rooms and EMS services are seeing a decrease in the number of patients seeking care. Some of that is related to the Stay Home, Stay Safe order, and the lack of travel-related emergencies, but some patients are delaying or dismissing medical problems because of fear of coming in contact with COVID-19 patients. Delaying treatment can result in poor outcomes, especially for those experiencing a heart attack or a stroke.

Jose Kottoor, Chief Executive Officer of Lake Huron Medical Center said, “Our Emergency Department remains open, safe and ready to serve patients and our community, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. We are well prepared to handle non-COVID emergencies as well as able to deal with an influx of potential COVID-19 cases, and are following all state, local and federal guidelines to safeguard our staff and other patients from exposure.” 

Lake Huron Medical Center emergency room instituted a pre-screening system to separate patients who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms from those with other conditions. Their triage staff routes COVID-19 patients to one area of the ER and non-COVID-19 to another. Patients are also treated by a designated team of medical personnel assigned to their area.

Ken Cummings, President and CEO of Tri-Hospial EMS, said ambulance workers have had safety practices in place to protect patients long before COVID-19 came on the scene. “Our ambulances are completely decontaminated after every run,” said Cummings. The process involves spraying every surface in the truck, removing and decontaminating stretchers and any equipment used, and letting sanitizer sit for the recommended period before it is wiped off. Cummings also said that the hospital is notified at the scene to give them a 15-20 minute prep period if a patient being treated has symptoms of COVID-19.

Cummings feels their safety practices are solid. “We have transported around 60 COVID patients since this situation began, and, so far, none of my employees have been infected with the virus, ” he said. Tri-Hospital EMS is also following the CDC recommended procedures for PPE for its staff and putting masks on patients as well.

Reporting for WGRT – Jessie Wiegand