The COVID-19 pandemic has had people jumping in the shadows to avoid infections. People are avoiding places they deem unsafe, and hospitals are at the top of the list. However, various restrictions, guidelines, and practices guarantee hospitals’ safety, and avoiding a visit can have serious consequences.
Every individual entering a hospital is screened. There are no entrances where people can come and go, and patients with flu-like symptoms are diverted to specific entrances away from the public. Ambulances screen for COVID-19 in their routes, and decontamination protocols are firmly in place. All hospitals require personal protective equipment (not limited to masks), and some hospitals even meet patients in full protective gear. Social distancing is firmly enforced, and hospital staff makes sure that every area is frequently cleaned and disinfected. Of course, every trip outside the house can expose you to viruses, so make sure to limit your visits to what’s needed and avoid bringing in the family to minimize the risk of transmission. Of course, doctors still insist on standard protocols for reducing transmission, like wearing cloth masks, social distancing, and frequent washing of hands with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizers.
Almost 80 percent of Americans fear they will catch a disease if they visit the hospital. While mostly untrue, the perception has led to a drop in hospital visits, making wards primarily unoccupied. Hospitals also relegate patients with COVID-19 to separate wings, and another hospital staff is in charge of their care. Staff is also tested regularly, ensuring no point of transmission from staff to patient. As much as possible, discourage family and friends from visiting while you are confined. A few days of confinement should be easy, considering you’ve already spent months at home. Of course, suspecting that you may have COVID-19 is not enough to warrant a visit to the hospital. However, symptoms like having trouble breathing, persistent chest pains, lethargy, confusion, and discolored lips (especially if blue) require an immediate hospital trip.
Contrary to popular belief, hospital procedures have become much safer during the pandemic. With people afraid to go to hospitals, doctors have lighter loads and are not as stressed or tired as before. Well-rested doctors perform better, and an uptick in the success ratios of procedures not involving COVID has been confirmed. Policies related to COVID-19 are also mostly successful, and only the most vulnerable (seniors over 80 and patients with serious underlying medical conditions) are at risk of dying.
Behind the Scenes
Hospital staff is continuously busy ensuring the safety of patients and personnel. Rooms are thoroughly sanitized after use, and scheduled cleaning is performed throughout the day. Doctors are always performing checks on patients, identifying symptoms that may warrant testing and isolation. COVID patients are admitted to single-person rooms and treated by specifically-assigned medical personnel. Used gear and other spent medical supplies are treated in high-heat medical waste autoclaves that eliminate all forms of virus and bacteria before being disposed of.
The Dangers of Putting Off Visits
The US has seen a spike in cancer deaths due to the general aversion to hospitals with delayed diagnosis and treatments. Heart problems and stroke-related deaths have also increased, as people avoid going to the hospitals as much as they can. Doctors advise quick visits or calls to emergency services on signs of heart attacks (chest pain; tingling or discomfort in one or both arms; sharp pain in the stomach, back, or jaw; shortness of breath; or sudden vertigo and nausea) and strokes (drooping on one side of the face, slurred speech, weakening of one arm, sudden numbness, confusion, vision problems, loss of mobility or sudden headaches). Other symptoms that warrant immediate attention are fainting and unexplained dizziness, injuries to the head or spine, uncontrollable bleeding, and severe vomiting or diarrhea.
Hospitals are held to higher standards for hygiene and safety, making them one of the safest places you can visit. Keep your appointments, and don’t hesitate to call emergency services at any sign of trouble.