Know When to Visit – Emergency Care During COVID-19


When COVID-19 first impacted our community, we noticed a significant drop in emergency room visits. Understandably, we realize this was likely due to people complying with stay-at-home orders or not wanting to take any chances of being exposed to the virus.

Today, the situation is much different. We’re noticing increasing emergency room visits at or above pre-pandemic highs. This is probably due to a combination of people feeling more comfortable in public places as well as the increasing cases of COVID that are still developing. As a result, hospital emergency rooms, including the Emergency Department at Caldwell Medical Center, are experiencing some issues with crowding and treatment delays.

To help ensure that medical emergencies can be addressed promptly and properly, we’ve provided some general tips on when it is best to visit the ER, or when it might be more helpful to you and your family to seek care with a Family Medicine or other appropriate provider.

Reasons to Seek Emergency Care
Visit the Emergency Room if you or a loved one are experiencing a medical emergency such as:

  • Chest pain or other heart attack symptoms (i.e. jaw/neck/back pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, lightheadedness)
  • Stroke symptoms (i.e severe headache, difficulty speaking, dizziness, sudden numbness or weakness in a body part)
  • Severe breathing problems
  • Head injuries
  • Passing out or feeling on the verge of passing out
  • Severe burns
  • Broken bones protruding from the skin
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Severe pain (especially abdominal)
  • Any serious life-or-limb-threatening in jury

Knowing When to Visit
In general, if you experience sudden or severe symptoms, go directly to your local ER or call 911.

Please note that Caldwell Medical Center is in no way discouraging the use of emergency room visits for serious illnesses or injuries, and if you’re ever in doubt as to whether or not you should visit our ER, know that “better safe than sorry” is a good rule to follow.

For issues such as cold/flu, sinus infections, sprains, minor cuts and bruises, screenings or tests, vaccinations, and the like, there are other options for getting the care you need and leaving space in the emergency room for severe situations. Additionally, patients visiting the ER will be checked in and seen by a provider in order of the urgency of the medical need, so you are more likely to have a significant wait if seeking treatment for a minor medical issue, and are encouraged to visit an urgent care or family medicine provider instead.

If you or your healthcare provider determine that you need to get emergency care, you can be confident that the Emergency Department at Caldwell Medical Center is taking all the necessary steps to prevent the transmission of diseases like COVID-19. To help us ensure the safety of our patients and our staff, we ask that everyone wears a mask whenever visiting the hospital or one of our clinics. We also encourage being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Rest assured, our ER is OPEN and SAFE, and here to serve your emergency needs safely and as efficiently as possible. Thank you for putting your trust in Caldwell Medical Center!