KU doctors: Emergency room is for emergencies, not COVID-19 tests

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Posted at 12:47 PM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 13:47:35-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Doctors are reminding patients that the emergency department of the hospital should be used only for emergencies.

RELATED: Where to find a COVID-19 test in Kansas City

During its daily COVID-19 live stream, doctors at The University of Kansas Health System said they've seen people arriving at the ER looking to get a COVID-19 test.

Assistant chief nursing officer for Inpatient and Emergency Services, Gail Schuetz said that a surge in people needing emergency services because of severe COVID-19 illness has increased wait times. There are sometimes 20 patients waiting for a bed, when the normal number is zero.

Staff shortages are also affecting wait times.

Dr. Ryan Jacobsen, an emergency physician at the health system and EMS physician adviser and medical director of Johnson County EMS, suggests anyone hoping for quick care for an emergency that is non-life-threatening visit urgent care.

Doctors emphasized though, if it is an emergency and you need immediate care, still get to the ER at the hospital.

On the other hand, the doctors also reminded people not to be scared to seek medical care for a non-Covid-related illness because they are afraid of contracting the virus. Hospitals and doctors' offices are some of the safest places to be.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Dana Hawkinson also pointed out that the COVID-19 vaccination is not meant to make someone immune to the virus, but rather to reduce severe illness and the chances for hospitalization and death once the virus is contracted.

He said that most of the health system's hospitalized COVID-19 patients are not fully vaccinated.

Mild symptoms can be managed at home, but medical help should be sought for a bad cough, shortness of breath or chest pain.

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