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Hospitals shouldn’t turn away non-COVID-19 patients

Hospitals shouldn’t turn away non-COVID-19 patients

Hospitals shouldn’t turn away non-COVID-19 patients
April 25
11:00 2020

With the U.S. currently leading the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, there is a mounting pressure on the American healthcare system. Makeshift tents for COVID-19 screenings have replaced entrances at many hospitals, there are entire wings for COVID-19 patients and family members are not allowed to be with loved ones who enter the wing due to safety precautions. Because of this outbreak, the virus has become the first priority for the American healthcare system. Unfortunately for people with other health issues, their concerns have to take a backseat. This is a major flaw with the system’s handling of this outbreak.

Last month, my older brother developed a fever with chills and shortness of breath. He tried going to Baylor Scott and White in downtown Dallas for a test but was turned away by staff members because his symptoms were too mild. He was told his symptoms had to essentially warrant him being on his death bed for them to test him. He tried getting tested again by going to the American Airlines Center when his symptoms worsened, but he wasn’t able to due to the number of tests having reached the limit for the day. He was able to get a test the next morning, but was admitted to Baylor Scott and White later that night.

There he was diagnosed with pneumonia and sepsis and got tested again for COVID-19. He tested negative and was discharged the next day from the hospital without any signs of his symptoms getting better. He wasn’t provided an oxygen mask during his stay and the only help he received there was a test and an IV. My mother took him to Baylor in Sunnyvale where he found out he had been misdiagnosed with sepsis though he still had pneumonia. He was provided with an oxygen mask, got an IV and was given various medications to fight the infection. He took a third COVID-19 test and tested negative again. Due to the negative result, he was discharged from the hospital and was prescribed medication. Though it’s been a long journey, he’s on the road to recovery and is showing improvement every day.

My brother is one example of the patients who are turned away from hospitals because they do not have COVID-19. Patients with other forms of illnesses are put in jeopardy due to the closing down of non-emergency health offices and the cancellation of non-essential services according to an article by CNN. Dr. Arthur Caplan, a CNN medical analyst, said he expects people who are in the early stages of cancer to die due to the lack of availability of treatment.

Not only are people with health issues that range from diabetes to cancer at a precarious position right now, a lot of them are afraid to go to hospitals because they don’t want to contract something much worse. With weakened immune systems, these potential patients would have no way to fight back against COVID-19. Yes, the healthcare system has quarantined COVID-19 patients in different wings of the hospital but people are still afraid to touch surfaces COVID-19 patients might have already touched or go to areas where COVID-19 patients might have sneezed or coughed.

It is an understatement to say that the American healthcare system was not prepared for an outbreak of this magnitude. What made matters worse is how the virus was downplayed by leaders which led to ignorance from the general public. The healthcare system has hit a panic button, but at what cost? There could be an increase to potential fatalities that could’ve been avoided if our leaders hadn’t been so complacent to believe the virus could be contained quickly even as it was spreading around the world at a rapid pace.

Though healthcare workers should be applauded for putting themselves on the front-lines of a deadly global pandemic, they could’ve taken steps to avoid endangering non-COVID-19 patients. One can only hope that the COVID-19 outbreak is going to positively change the healthcare system by finding a balance to take care of outbreak victims without ignoring patients who aren’t affected by the outbreak.

Featured Illustration: Isabel Balabuch

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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