Health system urging appropriate use of ER
UNC Health Southeastern is asking the public not to seek care from the emergency department for COVID-19 testing or treatment of mild symptoms.
“We need to make sure that care is appropriate for the need, and the emergency department is intended for extreme medical emergencies, such as heart attack, stroke, trauma and severe injuries,” said Renae Taylor, UNC Health Southeastern Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive.
Seeking care from the emergency room without a medical emergency will result in hours of waiting, as patients who are more serious are treated first.
“When patients come to the emergency room and it is not a true emergency, it makes it harder for us to assess and treat those in more dire situations,” added UNC Health Southeastern President/CEO Chris Ellington.
According to the CDC, individuals who have mild symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate and limit contact with others for at least five days from the onset of symptoms. For non-vaccinated individuals, continue to wear a mask for an additional five days. Because testing resources are limited, individuals should not seek testing unless it is required for their workplace or educational institutions.
Individuals who are at highest risk, such as those with multiple health issues, may need a specific type of COVID-19 test to qualify for treatments, in which cases they should get a test referral or prescription from their medical provider. In most cases, this can be requested as a virtual or telehealth appointment instead of visiting a medical clinic in person. To request a virtual appointment through UNC Health Southeastern, call 1-844-735-8864.
“While the chances of hospitalization are lower if contracting the omicron variant of COVID-19, the sheer number of people contracting coronavirus is placing an extraordinary strain on the hospital’s resources,” added Ellington. “The hospital is limiting elective surgeries due to the current strain we are experiencing due to this wave.”
UNC Health Southeastern is asking all visitors and patients to wear surgical grade hospital masks, which are provided, if needed, when inside any of its facilities. UNC Health Southeastern is also asking patients to wait in their cars, instead of lobbies, at all of its affiliates, to limit the number of people in these areas to minimize exposure.
“The public should avoid in-person meetings and wear a mask, even if is inconvenient, as it may be the small action that can help the hospital be ready when someone is medically in need,” said Ellington.
Individuals may receive COVID-19 testing at the drive-through site managed by NC Department of Health and Human Services located in the parking lot of Southeastern Health Park on Dawn Drive, Lumberton. The type of testing depends on testing supply availability. For more information about this testing site or to register for testing there, call (877) 562-4850.