safety at the ER

Don’t let fear keep you from emergency care or an outpatient procedure.

The change in how we’re living these days is intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

But our “new normal” has also had an unintended effect: Many people experiencing symptoms of a life-threatening illness are delaying treatment at their local emergency department for fear of contracting COVID-19.

The decision to wait, says Dr. Lawrence Isaacs, medical director of the emergency department at Lee Health Gulf Coast Medical Center, could cost them their lives.

“Symptoms of a heart attack, stroke or bleeding in the brain should be treated immediately,” Dr. Isaacs says. “In patients with these types of medical emergencies, the sooner they can receive treatment, the better their outcome. Time really is of the essence. You can’t wait on conditions on this.”

Patient safety remains priority one at Lee Health Coconut Point

Dr. Isaacs stresses that patient safety remains a fundamental priority at Lee Health, and the pandemic hasn’t changed this commitment. If anything, he says, it has further strengthened it.

“For COVID-19, we’ve heightened precaution and safety measures at all Lee Health facilities,” Dr. Isaacs says. “We continue to follow the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in health care and emergency medical service settings.”

That means wearing, gloves, gowns, maintaining social distancing when possible, disinfecting and cleaning patient and work areas, and practicing hand hygiene. “We are relentless about following these precautions because we know they work,” Dr. Isaacs says.

These safety practices are in full effect at the Lee Health Coconut Point Emergency Room.

What should I expect when I visit a Lee Health ED?

Patients are screened through a series of questions about symptoms such as shortness of breath, a new cough, and if you have a fever. At each facility, a greeter (who is wearing gloves and a mask) will approach you and ask those questions.

“All patients will be required to wear masks,” says Dr. Isaacs. “Then, it’s on to a triage nurse for further COVID-19 assessment.” If the nurse suspects you might have COVID-19, you’ll be directed to a member of your health care team for emergency treatment and further evaluation for suspected COVID-19.

Lee Health emergency departments treat severe and life-threatening conditions ranging from broken bones to breathing trouble, from chest pain to trauma. To find the emergency department nearest you or to learn more about when to visit the emergency department, visit here.

Outpatient Care Follows Fierce Safety Protocol

Lee Health has resumed many elective surgeries and procedures, and health officials have enacted strict measures to ensure safety for both patients and employees at outpatient facilities such as Lee Health Coconut Point, according to Dr. Larry Antonucci, MBA, president & CEO of Lee Health.

“We are proceeding cautiously, and with surgeries, in particular, will limit procedures to 20 to 25 percent of normal volume as we monitor the impact on the health system,” Dr. Antonucci says. “This measured approach is necessary and helps us ensure we have the personal protective equipment we need to keep our patients and employees safe. Safety, as always, remains our primary concern.”

Elective Procedures and Surgeries

Throughout the pandemic, Lee Health has continued to provide essential lifesaving care to patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and as well as non-infected patients. The easing of mandatory shutdown restrictions now enables patients to receive care for elective procedures and surgeries such as knee replacement, cataract surgery, screenings for cancer, or heart or lung disease.

Dr. Alex Daneshmand, Lee Healthy chief quality and patient safety officer, says the reopening will occur in stages, highlighting Lee Health’s commitment to maximizing employee, patient, and visitor safety by exercising an abundance of caution.

Dr. Daneshmand says safety measures include:

  • All administrative and nursing staff will wear masks to protect all patients.
  • Doctors and other clinicians will wear masks, gowns, and gloves when examining patients.
  • Every staff and clinical member starting their shift at any Lee Health facility will have their temperature checked before they enter the building. They will also be screened through a series of questions to rule out COVID-19. Any employee who tests over 100°F will be sent home immediately and not allowed to resume work until medically cleared.
  • All patients will be required to wear masks.
  • Facilities will continue to limit visitor access to decrease the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
  • Every patient will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 upon entering the building.
  • Screened and cleared patients at LPG offices will have to the option to wait in their cars instead of the waiting room.
  • Waiting rooms will be realigned so that chairs are 6 feet apart, per social distancing guidelines.
  • Patients with COVID-19 who are admitted to a hospital will continue to be separated from other hospital units.

Telemedicine is a phone call away

Telemedicine remains a viable option for many patients.

“However, if you need to see us in person, we remain here for you,” Dr. Daneshmand says. “Every precaution we have put in place prioritizes the safety of our patients and colleagues.”

Learn more at our comprehensive Telemedicine page.

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