Don’t ignore heart attack or stroke symptoms: Louisville-area emergency rooms are prepared

Norton Healthcare emergency departments are the safest place to be with heart attack or stroke symptoms.

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During a visit to the Norton Brownsboro Hospital emergency department one recent afternoon, a man was brought in two days after he first started noticing stroke symptoms.

“He’s in the right place now,” a nurse said, reassuring the woman who dropped him off.

He was wheeled to the check-in station and given a surgical face mask. Showing no symptoms of coronavirus disease, the man was taken directly to a room for care — with no wait and no intermingling with patients who had COVID-19 symptoms.

If he had a fever or other symptoms, he would have been taken to a separate set of rooms — marked off with red tape on the floor — where patients with COVID-19 symptoms are treated by a separate staff. If a patient with no COVID-19 symptoms does have any wait, surgical masks are available, and a temporary designated waiting area has been set up just outside the emergency department.

Don’t hesitate if you need emergency care

While emergency rooms in New York have been overwhelmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the Louisville area are quiet. Social distancing is in place in waiting areas, and caregivers are ready for patients.

The number of people sickened by the coronavirus has been manageable, and established procedures keep those with or without symptoms safe.

Norton Healthcare emergency departments are prepared. Everyone who enters is checked for symptoms of COVID-19, given a surgical face mask and treated in one of two separate areas depending on their symptoms.

Medical staff members are assigned to one set of patients and don’t intermingle with others, to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. By using personal protective equipment the right way, when it is needed, the staff has been able to keep supplies — masks, gowns, gloves and protective respiratory devices — sufficient for what’s needed.

“It is very important that if you or a loved one is experiencing chest pain, difficulty speaking, mental confusion or difficulty moving an arm or leg, that you call 911,” said Steven T. Hester, M.D., MBA, division president, provider operations, and system chief medical officer, Norton Healthcare. “It is critical that you do not neglect your health or ignore troubling symptoms during this time. Talk to your provider or use our telehealth services if you are not sure your situation requires an ER visit. We are safely and efficiently treating emergency and urgent health care needs for all patients, not just those with COVID-19.”

Those who survive after putting off care can face lifelong chronic conditions as a result.

A study drafted for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that since March 1, 2020, the number of cardiac catheterizations to treat STEMI heart attacks dropped 38% from the 14 months prior. That’s on top of what could have been an expected increase in STEMI heart attacks, the deadliest type of heart attack, given increased emotional stress and viral-induced heart attacks.

While social distancing has been effective in limiting the spread of the coronavirus, avoiding care for a heart attack, stroke or other life-threatening illness is risking your life.

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