Doctor: Don’t fear going to ER because of virus

HARLINGEN — Some people appear to have taken the stay-at-home order too literally, refusing to seek help even for critical medical emergencies.

“ Across the country people have been forgoing or delaying needed medical care,” said Dr. Christopher Romero, internal medicine specialist at Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen.

“ People have been delaying care for very serious conditions, even heart attacks and strokes, because of fear of COVID-19,” Romero said. “From diabetes emergencies to heart attacks, when emergency care is needed people should be confident it’s safe to seek medical care. Not doing so can have life-threatening results.”

Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. mandated stay-at-home orders several weeks ago to stop the spread of COVID-19. Some protested, some thanked him. He spoke several times of his frustration and disappointment that people weren’t complying with the orders. He was especially dismayed at all the Facebook postings of people celebrating Easter with big family gatherings.

However, even he emphasized in a recent news conference that if residents have medical emergencies they can and should go to the hospital.

Romero also spoke to the importance of residents not letting COVID-19 prevent them from seeking medical help.

“ If people delay care because of COVID-19 their problems, being ignored, can often get worse and lead to worse outcomes, sometimes even death,” Romero said. “We have known for a very long time that for serious injuries, heart attacks, strokes and other major health emergencies getting treatment as soon as possible makes all the difference.”

So, what about the danger of contracting COVID-19 at the hospital?

“ Hospitals have put in significant control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “People should feel confident seeking the medical care they need even during these extraordinary times.”

He said Valley Baptist screens anyone entering the hospital for symptoms of the virus and everyone is given a face mask.

“ Any patient suspected of having COVID-19 is kept in separate areas of the hospital with specialized infection control measures for everyone’s protection,” Romero said. “Health care facilities take patient safety extremely serious.”

He said the hospital cares daily for patients whose conditions make them susceptible to COVID-19.

“ We are able to accomplish this by putting in place very strict infection control measures throughout the hospital,” he said. “One of my own family members recently underwent needed surgery even in the midst of this pandemic, and it was important that this care was not delayed.”

twhitehead@valleystar.com