Officials at Norman Regional Health System said since the pandemic started, many patients are waiting too long to call ambulances for medical emergencies.
“There have been some anecdotal times that I’ve heard from the crews, that they’ve gone out and patients have refused transport, making comments that they ‘would rather die at home than get COVID,’” Chief of EMSTAT EMS Eddie Sims said.
Sims said since late March, many patients have been waiting longer than usual to make lifesaving 911 calls.
“Not only in Norman, but across the state and even across the country. Ever since the COVID epidemic really started and there were positives in the ERs, the incidences of heart attacks and strokes either calling 911 or going by private vehicle to the ERs is way down,” Sims said.
Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Angela Carrick said many who do make it to the emergency room are coming in way later than they should.
“When people are coming in later, sometimes it lessens the ability for us to fix the problem, and to treat them and to get them back to normal, especially with things like stroke and a heart attack, and even surgical conditions like appendicitis,” Carrick said.
Based on anecdotal evidence, Norman medical professionals said patients are likely concerned they’ll catch COVID-19 and are therefore putting off a hospital visit.
Both Carrick and Sims said the hospital and the ambulances are sanitized constantly to avoid infection for new patients.
“After we transport a patient, we actually sanitize the entire unit,” Sims said.
Carrick said the sooner medical professionals address emergency symptoms, the better the outcome for all involved.
“Anything that people feel like is very different from normal or alarming to them could be signs of a heart attack. Chest pains, shortness of breath, can’t hold down fluids really weak, or symptoms of stroke, then we want you to come in immediately,” Carrick said.