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Don’t Stop Coming To The Hospital Because Of COVID-19, Local Doctors Say

Outside of the parking loop at Baptist Health, fountain in the center, with an awning covering the entrance of the building. A couple buildings behind the awning, covering some of the sky
Sky Lebron
Doctors from Baptist Health said they've seen a significant decline in people coming to the hospital for issues other than COVID-19

Baptist Health wants people to know they shouldn’t hold back from going to the hospital because of concerns they won’t be seen or they’ll catch COVID-19 while there. 

“For smaller strokes, we’ve definitely seen a decline, and that’s of concern,” said Dr. Ricardo Hanel, a neurosurgeon and director at the Baptist Health Neurological Institute.

The hospital is attending to roughly the same amount of large strokes it did in 2019, but Hanel said the number of people they’re helping with small strokes has significantly declined. 

“It's so important not to downplay the symptoms, because a small symptom could be a warning for a big storm coming,” Hanel said. 

Baptist Health screens people at the door, and if they are suspected of having COVID-19, they are separated from the rest of the hospital population.

“Our patients that go to the intensive care unit from an aneurysm procedure, there's nobody with COVID-19 in that unit,” Hanel said.  

Wolfson Children’s Hospital, which is part of Baptist Health, has seen a decline of 60-70% in its number of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For Dr. Anthony Pohlgeers, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Wolfson, that’s a troublesome figure.

“That's a concerning trend to me because what it leads to is kids coming in that are more ill than they normally would have been if they would have come in sooner,” Pohlgeers said. 

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

Pohlgeers said there’s been such a sharp decline for three main reasons: First, kids aren’t interacting with one another at school, potentially spreading germs and getting each other sick. Second, there are no organized sports, meaning fewer injuries on the field or court. And third, parents are worried about their kids’ catching COVID-19 when going to the hospital. 

Pohlgeers said the decline in non-COVID patients is a national trend, and it can lead to kids’ having to go to the pediatric ICU. 

“Some of the reports we see out of Italy are kids that have come in that were so ill, when they finally did make it to the emergency department that they've had reports of death as a result of of this delay,” Pohlgeers said. 

If patients are worried about catching the coronavirus if they go to the hospital, Pohlgeers suggests virtual visits with physicians.

Many hospitals and private practices are offering telemedicine options, and companies like Teladoc Health and Amwell offer virtual visits with doctors 24/7.

Sky Lebron can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at@SkylerLebron.

Former WJCT News reporter