Seeking Emergency Stroke Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A doctor holding a patient's hand in the emergency room.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to fill our hearts and minds as it affects our day-to-day lives. As you practice social distancing and follow the latest guidelines to protect yourself, you should still call 911 or go to the nearest ER for medical emergencies that may suddenly arise.

That said, we understand many have unsettling feelings about ER care right now. Every medical emergency is stressful, but one during a pandemic can bring even more concern. Will the ER staff be available to treat me? Will I be exposed to coronavirus while in the hospital? These are valid questions — among others — that people are asking.

As the connection between coronavirus and blood clots is being explored, it’s critical that you seek emergency care if you are experiencing stroke symptoms. Most strokes are caused by blood clots.

“We understand the fear of going to the hospital where you may have more direct exposure to COVID-19,” says Dr. Indrani Acosta, Medical Director for Stroke at the AdventHealth Neuroscience Institute.

“However, it’s important if you or a loved one are having any symptoms of stroke that you seek immediate emergency care. Treatment that could eliminate or minimize disability is only available if you get medical attention fast."

Potential Stroke Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

Stroke symptoms will always warrant an immediate call to 911 or a trip to the ER.

Sudden changes in your ability to speak, feeling confused, or experiencing weakness or numbness on one side of the face/body indicate a possible stroke or other serious neurological condition.

A stroke can also cause:

  • Changes in vision
  • Disorientation
  • Drowsiness
  • Sudden and severe headache
  • Sudden dizziness

Seconds matter, so act fast by calling 911 if you experience these symptoms or notice them in a loved one.

B.E. F.A.S.T.

A simple way to remember dangerous stroke warning signs is to use the acronym B.E. F.A.S.T.

Balance - If you notice sudden problems with balance or coordination

Eyes – If you notice sudden blurred or double vision or sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes

Face – If the mouth droops down on one side

Arm – If when both arms are extended, one arm drifts downward

Speech – If speech is slurred, absent or abnormal

Time – If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately

What Our ERs Are Doing to Protect You

First, know that our ER teams are here to serve you and your community 24/7. Our teams are doing everything possible to staff accordingly and accommodate every patient’s needs, whether related to COVID-19 or another emergent condition. There will always be a skilled emergency medical team available to help you.

In addition, our teams have adopted heightened infection control policies to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus to staff and patients. You may notice our staff wearing additional personal protective equipment (PPE), including face shields, gowns, caps and larger or multiple masks.

Other safety measures include:

  • Frequent cleaning of ER lobby, patient rooms and high-touch areas throughout the hospital with approved cleaning solution that eradicates viruses, including coronavirus

  • Frequent hand-washing and proper use of PPE by clinical staff
  • Separate care spaces for suspected respiratory patients away from the general patient population

  • Temperature screenings given by emergency department staff at entry points 


For less-critical injuries and illnesses, we offer video visits through the AdventHealth app. This can help reduce trips to the ER for everyday illnesses such as allergies, colds and minor infections.

Whole-Health Care During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Processing COVID-19 and its daily effect on your life and around the world can take a toll on the body, mind and spirit. But find comfort knowing that our emergency medical teams are here to care for any medical concern throughout this pandemic with compassion — while keeping you as safe as possible. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency like a stroke, don’t delay seeking care.

If you are able to safely get to an ER on your own or with the help of a loved one, locate your nearest AdventHealth ER or dial 911 for immediate assistance.

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