Some heart, stroke patients not seeking care due to fear of COVID-19
BATON ROUGE - New data suggests that people are so afraid of getting the coronavirus they're not seeking the care they need right now.
Over the last two months there has been a decrease in heart attack and stroke patients at hospitals. Baton Rouge General Medical Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. Johnny Jones says that's not a good thing.
"I think people are scared to come in because of the COVID crisis but often ignoring the symptoms that they're having," Jones said.
The numbers reflect a drastic change. For April 2020, compared to April 2019, BRG is reporting a 39-percent decrease in heart attack patients and a 21-percent decrease in stroke patients. Overall visits to the ER are down about 46-percent. Jones says instead of those patients coming to the ER to seek care, they're suffering at home.
"The sad thing is a certain percentage of them are dying at home, but I think the larger percentage of people that have ignored the symptoms are getting through the initial symptom of chest pain or slurred speech and then developing complications down the line," he said.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner says March 1, 2020 to May 21, 2020, there have been 1,045 natural deaths. Of those, 239 are linked to COVID-19, and 806 are other natural causes. From March 1, 2019 to May 21, 2019, there were 682 natural deaths in EBR parish.
Acadian Ambulance says it's reporting a greater number of patients refusing transport to hospitals for needed care.
"We got to try to talk them into being transported and a lot of them just refuse and get out of our units who don't want to be transported," Chief Medical Officer of Acadian Companies Chuck Burnell said.
Since the start of the pandemic, Acadian has seen an 18-percent increase in patients refusing to go to the hospital after they have been advised to do so. Medics say it's because the patients fear becoming infected with COVID-19.
Instead patients request to be taken to doctors' offices, which are not equipped to handle emergencies. Other patients aren't even calling for help.
"One of the things that we've noticed that is most concerning, what we call our DOA or 'dead on arrival' or 'dead on scene' criteria, that number has gone up. And this is not just unique to Louisiana. This has been a nation-wide trend in a lot of EMS services," Burnell said.
Hospitals and medics have changed their procedures and adapted to the coronavirus, offering masks and performing temperature checks. Hospitals have separate areas for COVID-19 patients to offer the best possible care for everyone.