With limited resources and capacity, Dr. Sanford Vieder urges patients to avoid the ER unless experiencing significant shortness of breath.
With the first two confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) hitting Michigan on March 11, many local hospital emergency rooms have seen a flood of people coming in asking to be tested for the disease.
But unless you have significant shortness of breath, coming to the ER is doing more harm than good, according to Dr. Sanford Vieder, D.O., Director of Emergency Trauma Center at Beaumont in Farmington Hills.
“There is no reason to go to an emergency room or urgent care unless you are having significant breathing difficulties or chest pains,” Vieder told the Jewish News. “We can’t test for COVID-19. No hospital in Michigan has the test. Only the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Laboratories in Lansing has the ability to do so.”
At Beaumont, Vieder has seen a significant spike in the number of patients coming in asking to be tested. If they do ask for a test, Vieder and the staff are declining them because the state health department has very strict guidelines on who should be tested as of now.
“There is a limited number of the test itself, so we’re not going to do tests on just anybody, especially since a majority of them have mild symptoms,” Vieder said. “The process of getting tested is quite complicated and it is not something that a physician’s office or urgent care can do quite yet. Also, the experience thus far is that the vast majority who do have symptoms don’t need hospitalization.”
“Worried-well” are people who are perfectly healthy and do not need medical treatment but visit the doctor or emergency room out of an abundance of caution.
“You have to keep in mind that if we are overrun with the worried-well, then we can’t help those who really, really need it. We have limited resources and limited capacity, so we really want to reserve our ERs and our hospitals for those people who really need it,” Vieder added.
Vieder understands the concerns of the community, but stresses that the most important aspect to take away is that a majority of COVID-19 cases are accompanied by mild or moderate symptoms that will go away in a couple of days.
“The vast majority, 97-98% or more, of people who contract the coronavirus will just have a mild, flu-like illness, and there is no specific treatment for it,” Vieder said. “The only people we want to see in the ER or in the urgent care setting are those who are having trouble breathing, because that is someone who should be seen, regardless of it is coronavirus or not.”
“Unfortunately, those people who have higher risks, like the elderly and [those with] other underlying health problems, are the ones more likely to have the complications requiring hospital care,” he added.
Vieder recommends cleaning and disinfecting your home, office, commonly touched surfaces and little nooks with disinfecting wipes, such as Clorox, regularly. Washing your hands properly with soap and water is also a key factor in preventing the spread of not only COVID-19 but also other diseases, such as influenza.
“Drink lots of fluids, get plenty of sleep, take some Tylenol or Motrin for the fever and that is all you need to do,” Vieder said. “If you’re sick, wash your hands, stay home and eat Jewish chicken soup.”