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Is it safe to use the emergency room during the COVID-19 pandemic? | 2 Your Well-being

No one wants to be in the emergency room at the best of times. But Cone Health officials are making them safe during the pandemic.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Cone Health doctors reported an influx of patients trying to get emergency care over coronavirus concerns. As busy as they are, Cone Health’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Mary Jo Cagle said delaying care could seriously damage your health. 

"We don't want anyone to delay getting care if you're having chest pains or systems of a stroke,” said Cagle. "The longer you wait the greater the damage can be. And it might even be irreversible," she added.

Cone Health is also taking several steps to keep people safe in their emergency rooms. "We've created a special hospital just for our COVID-19 patients on Green valley," said Cagle. The hospital is specially designed with coronavirus patients in mind. Cagle went on to say they're using special cleaning techniques that include ultraviolet light to disinfect areas in the hospital, including the emergency room. All patients will be offered a mask and all staff will be using masks and gloves. 

So, what can you expect if you had to go to visit the emergency room? Well, your family and friends won't be joining you and it's for their safety. But they'll still be informed Dr. Cagle said, "We're taking a phone number and our staff is texting the family to let them know what's going on with the care of their loved one."

You may be wondering what your chances are of being exposed to coronavirus while in the emergency room. Dr. Cagle said "It's very unlikely for anyone to get COVID-19 if you're six feet apart. So one of the things we're working on all of our emergency rooms is making sure that everyone stays six feet apart. That's why we're also giving people masks. So if you're wearing a mask and the people taking care of you are wearing a mask and you're staying six feet apart from other patients coming in, then your chance of getting coronavirus is virtually non-existent. 

But what about the hospital staff? You can't be six feet away from them. So how likely are you to be exposed to the virus from them? Cagle says in addition to all staff wearing masks and gloves they have an independent group come in to screen and test all staff for symptoms of the disease. If they have them, they'll have to stay home.

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