People in the Los Angeles metro area are putting off hospital visits for fear of catching COVID-19 — even though some of them turn out to have the virus anyway, ultimately worsening their condition in the long run, doctors said in a new report.
Most of the emergency room patients at Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood — where about 40 to 45 percent of patients have COVID-19 — are experiencing respiratory issues, Dr. Paryus Patel, chief medical officer at the facility, told CNN.
“What we are seeing is a lot more sicker people now coming in that qualify for an inpatient stay,” Patel told the network. “So typically, we used to see on a non-COVID day about 150, 180 patients a day. We are seeing about 90 to 100 [patients] — averaging out. Most of them come in for an acute medical need which will require hospitalization.”
At Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the coronavirus patient volume has been stable for two weeks, with about 120 to 130 people battling the illness, according to the report.
But even with those patients, the hospital’s emergency room is seeing about half its normal volumes, Dr. Jeff Smith, chief operating officer at Cedars-Sinai, told the network.
“Right now, we’re taking care of about 400 or so non-COVID patients,” said Smith. “We’re still caring for three to four times as many non-COVID patients as we are COVID patients, but we still have a lot of capacity because patients have chosen to avoid the hospital.”
Smith urged people not to shy away from the hospital.
“It really just comes back to if you have an urgent or an emergent need, we can care for you safely at the hospital,” Smith said. “And you should come.”
Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, FDNY statistics showed earlier this month that the number of New Yorkers who refuse to be taken to hospitals has more than doubled amid the coronavirus crisis — with EMTs blaming the situation on fear of contracting the deadly disease.
One FDNY paramedic said some 911 calls about potentially life-threatening symptoms — such as chest pain — were resulting in patients willing to risk death rather than go to a hospital.
In Los Angeles, there has been a total of 13,816 coronavirus cases and 617 deaths reported, according to statistics last updated Monday.