Even in the best of times, going to the emergency room (ER) can be stressful. With the current circumstances, you may be even more hesitant about heading to the ER. But when the unexpected happens, it’s vital to get the emergency medical care you need right away. We’re taking extra safety measures to address every emergency quickly, protect you and keep you safe.
Rest assured that AdventHealth is following the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That means there are many new safety protocols in place — from screening everyone who comes to the hospital, to new rules on whether visitor restrictions.
Here are answers to some common questions about going to the ER right now, as well as details on the extra precautions we’re taking to protect you and keep you safe.
What Our ERs Are Doing to Protect You and Keep You Safe
At AdventHealth, patient safety is of the utmost importance. We are following strict infection prevention and control protocols from the CDC to protect all team members, patients and visitors. This includes:
- Temperature checking before patients enter our facilities
- Updated visitor policies for everyone’s safety
- Universal face mask policy for patients and team members
- Frequent and thorough sanitizing of all patient rooms and waiting areas, ER lobby, equipment, high-traffic areas and entire facility
- Placing symptomatic and confirmed COVID-19 patients in a separate area with dedicated medical staff
- Staff immediately washing hands after removing and discarding gloves, and washing hands frequently when not wearing gloves
- Staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times
According to Dr. Regan Schwartz, Chairman of Department of Emergency Medicine at AdventHealth Orlando, “The Emergency Department staff is well-trained to deal with all infections. The number one priority is to keep patients safe. There are procedures in place that keep the environment sterile and germ free to protect our patients from infections. Hospitals have the most experience and practice in stopping disease spread and can safely treat patients with any medical or surgical problem during this pandemic”.
What Should I Bring With Me to the ER?
Leave your valuables at home, and just bring the essentials. If you or a loved one goes to the ER, be sure to take these items:
- A family member’s emergency contact information — this is especially important right now, since new CDC recommendations may mean that you can’t bring anyone to the ER with you
- List of any allergies you have
- List of medications you take
- Photo ID card
- Your medical history
- Insurance card
Should I Wear a Cloth Face Covering to the ER?
Yes. The CDC is advising everyone to wear a cloth face covering in public right now for safety. If someone is bringing you to the ER, they should also wear a face covering. If you are not wearing a face covering when you arrive, hospital staff will provide you with a face covering.
What Will Happen When I Get to the ER?
Our hospitals and ERs are following CDC recommendations and taking each person’s temperature on arrival, regardless of the reason for their visit. When you get to the ER, staff will meet you at the entrance to check your temperature.
They may ask you certain questions to assess whether you need care in a separate area. They may do this even if you are at the ER for a routine health problem, since some people with COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms. We have processes in place to care for patients who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in a separate area, away from other patients. This practice is called patient cohorting, and it helps us keep everyone safe while they get in-person care.
Can I Bring Someone in With Me?
For safety purposes, hospitals are now limiting the number of visitors in all areas of their facilities. In some cases, you may be allowed to have one person with you in the ER. In other cases, no visitors may be allowed. This will depend on the hospital’s procedures.
So, be prepared in case you or your loved one may have to enter the ER alone. In addition, if a visitor is screened and found to have a fever or other concerning symptoms, they will not be allowed in.
Will I Be in an ER Waiting Room Near People Who Are Sick?
In accordance with CDC guidelines, hospitals are separating patients into different areas, depending on their symptoms.
People with possible or confirmed COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough or other upper respiratory symptoms) will be taken to a separate waiting and treatment area with different medical staff. Other patients can remain in the main waiting room.
For all patients, we are taking steps to practice social distancing in our waiting rooms. Look for floor markers for where to stand and seat covers for where to sit, both of which will be spaced 6 feet apart. You may also notice clear, protective shields at receptionist desks.
Will I Be Placed in a Care Area Near People Who Are Sick?
To protect everyone’s safety, hospitals are following CDC guidelines and keeping people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in separate care areas, away from other patients. Dedicated medical staff are treating these patients as well.
How Long Will I Be in the ER?
Emergency room doctors will work with you to assess your specific condition. Their goal, as always, is to get you treated and back home as soon as possible. But if your medical emergency requires a hospital stay, you will be safely moved by staff wearing PPE to a fully sanitized room in another part of the hospital.
When You Need ER Care, We’re Here to Care for You Safely
When the unexpected happens, know that you don’t have to delay ER care out of fear. We’re taking extra safety measures to address your emergency quickly and protect you in our hospitals. 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.