'What made you wait?' Don't avoid hospital over virus fears, doctor says

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

(Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- While COVID-19 cases are still increasing everyday, local hospitals are seeing fewer visits for just about everything else. Why? Patients might rather deal with health issues at home than risk catching COVID-19 in hospitals.

The rush at hospitals came the minute COVID-19 testing ramped up. But inside Dr. Christopher Hogan's trauma unit -- it was eerily quiet.

"Since the virus came around, the ER did see about a 40 percent decrease in people arriving, and that included traumas," said Dr. Hogan, Medical Director, Trauma and Critical Care at Doctors Hospital.

AU Health saw a 40 percent drop, and University Hospital, a 20-percent drop. 911 calls at Gold Cross are down 25 to 40 percent.

"I would always ask, what made you wait? 90-95 percent of the time it was because they didn't want to be exposed to the virus," Hogan said.

Dr. Hogan says some people were waiting more than three days to get treated for appendicitis.

"I had three on one Sunday, that all came on Sunday but had been hurting since Tuesday or Wednesday," Hogan said.

He saw more perforated appendicitis cases in the last two months then he saw all of last year. And some ruptured, cases that could have been prevented with treatment and antibiotics.

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"The people that waited unfortunately really suffered, they were really sick when they came in and ended up spending an extra day or two at the hospital," Hogan said.

So Dr. Hogan wants to ensure people that a hospital is a safe place, and they can come to the hospital when they are not feeling well for reasons other than COVID-19.

"We have designated floors. The patients that have COVID-19 are all in one location," he said. "The patients that have other illnesses are in their respective locations also and then for surgery, we go a step further, we test."

Dr. Hogan says he's also seen an increase in 'at-home injuries'-- things like ATV accidents with children and broken bones from falling off ladders or roofs.

But in good news, Doctors Hospital and AU Health both report decreases in car-crash related injuries -- especially those related to drinking and driving decreased.

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