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If You Need Emergency Care, Don’t Delay


It’s true that many things during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic are different. Events are canceled, parks are closed, and group gatherings must be postponed. But one thing that remains the same is emergency situations and severe symptoms require prompt medical care.

There is a nationwide trend of people hesitating to receive emergency care. In fact, some reports have shown a 40 percent decrease in heart attack patients at emergency rooms across the country. “People are staying at home and not paying attention to their symptoms,” says Ronald Freudenberger, MD, Physician in Chief, Lehigh Valley Heart Institute. “The sooner we treat a patient during a heart attack and open their arteries, the greater the chance of survival and full recovery.”

Emergency rooms throughout Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) are the safest places you can receive help. We follow protocols designed to protect you from exposure to COVID-19, including the use of technologies to check-in patients and place patients suspected of having COVID-19 in separate care areas.

When to seek emergency care

Whether you need care for COVID-19 or not, LVHN continues to provide the same safe, compassionate care.

“Treating patients that have contagious medical infections is not new to us,” says Lindsay Houck, RN, Director of Patient Care Services with Lehigh Valley–Cedar Crest Emergency Department. “We are confident we can maintain the same level of care as we always have and provide the best treatment for all patients.”

Two common emergency conditions are heart attack and stroke. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, call 911.

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Heart attack symptoms

  • Discomfort or pain in chest

  • Shortness of breath or lightheadedness

  • Discomfort or pain in shoulder

  • Jaw, neck or back pain

  • Nausea and vomiting

Stroke symptoms
The acronym BE FAST will help you remember the signs of a stroke and you to act quickly.

  • Balance – Sudden loss of balance

  • Eyes – Blurred vision in one or both eyes

  • Face – Face drooping or looks uneven

  • Arms – One arm becomes weak or numb

  • Speech – Slurred speech or seems confused

  • Time – If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Is the ER safe for people without COVID-19?

Not only are our hospitals safe – during an emergency, our hospitals are the safest place you can be.

“We’ve made every precaution for our patients as well as our staff to be able to take care of patients who don’t have COVID-19,” says Freudenberger. “Our cleaning mechanisms and methodology are very stringent. I personally am very comfortable working in the hospitals as well as seeing patients who don’t have COVID-19 and need to be seen in the hospital.”

When to seek virtual care

If your symptoms don’t require emergency care, it’s true that the best course of action is to stay home. For minor illnesses and injuries, like colds, earaches and rashes, call your provider’s office for next steps. Together you can discuss if a Virtual Office Appointment or if an in-person appointment is best for you.

To read more about the lifesaving care provided at LVHN emergency rooms, visit LVHN.org/ER.