EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — The number of coronavirus patients in El Paso remains at a near record high. However, even as hospitals are strained due to the pandemic, some health experts are warning that non-Covid patients may be delaying life-saving care.
Dr. Edward Michelson, an emergency room physician affiliated with University Medical Center and Chair of Emergency Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso, said the number of patients in the emergency department is lower than it was a year ago. He cites a drop in non-COVID patients who he believes may be delaying emergency visits due to fears of the virus.
“What we do see unfortunately are patients with symptoms of strokes, symptoms of a heart attack who stay home sometimes for days because they're afraid to come to the hospital,” Dr. Michelson said. “We’re still taking care of those patients, but it’s much harder to get a good outcome when people stay home and they don’t come promptly.”
Dr. Michelson said there is enough room for these patients and safety precautions are in place to minimize exposure risk. He said few members of the medical staff he works with have contracted COVID-19 and he hopes that reassures patients the hospital will work to keep them safe.
Still, Dr. Michelson said the surge of new cases in El Paso over the past few weeks is concerning. Dr. Michelson said new cases typically correspond with new hospitalizations about 10 to 12 days later.
“What many folks don't realize is how many additional beds hospitals in El Paso have added to deal with this pandemic,” he said. “The estimate is somewhere around 500 additional beds have been added across all of the hospitals in our community. 500 additional beds is the equivilant of building two new hospitals, so there's only so much we can continue to grow.”
Dr. Michelson said that University Medical Center alone had added between 160 to 170 additional beds during the pandemic