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Twin Cities Emergency Rooms Seeing Drastic Drop In Non-COVID-19 Patients

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Some Minnesota hospitals worry Minnesotans feel forced to stay away if they have a medical emergency unrelated to COVID-19.

"I think people are afraid to come in because they don't want to get sick," said Dr. Dave Milbrandt, the VP of Emergency Medicine at M Health Fairview.

He says they've seen a 60% decline patients at the ER, which started dropping mid-March.

"My biggest fear is people not coming in to the ER for things that they should be coming in to the ER for, like strokes, like heart attacks," Dr. Milbrandt said.

Dr. Milbrandt says M Health Fairview has made safety protocol changes across all 21 of their ERs.

"We have people right at the door, screening people, trying to identify, trying to isolate people," Dr. Milbrandt said.

He says once patients are approved to be in the ER for non-COVID-19 treatment, they are immediately admitted to their own room and do not wait in a communal space to see a physician.

In the metro east, The Urgency Room turned two of their clinic into "clean sites" where they are only taking in non-COVID-19 related medical needs.

"We felt it was really important to offer the community a space where there was low risk of contracting a COVID infection," said Dr. Kristi Trussell, the Asst. Medical Director at the Urgency Room.

The Urgency Room "clean sites" are located in Eagan and Vadnais Heights. They are they open seven days a week, and you do not need an appointment. On their website, you can find the wait times in real time at each site and you can see all the patients ahead of you. The Urgency Room also screens all incoming patients at the door and admits them to their own isolated rooms to wait for a physician.

"We can see everything from minor illnesses like sore throats or sinus infections, all the way up to things that are really serious," Dr. Trussell said.

She said their clinics have also seen a big decline in patients since the COVID-19 outbreak, and she's seen some dangerous results for people who did not come into their clinics right away.

"We've seen a number of patients who have come in really late in their illness and because of that have had complications and have even needed to be admitted," Dr. Trussell said.

The Urgency Room's third clinic in Woodbury is dedicated solely to treating respiratory concerns and offers limited COVID-19 testing for qualified patients.

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