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PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center emergency entrance (November 2016). Photo: Whatcom News

PeaceHealth reports PNW emergency rooms are experiencing higher than normal patient volumes

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Officials with PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center are asking Whatcom County residents with non-emergent health issues to visit their primary care physician or a drop-in clinic instead of the emergency room (ER). The request comes after experiencing higher than normal ER patient volumes.

PeaceHealth spokesperson Hilary Andrade told Whatcom News they “are seeing an average of an additional 20 patients per day each month since April 2021, returning to pre-pandemic levels of approximately 175-185 patients per day.”

Andrade said the increase in ER patients “has been attributed to a variety of factors, including delayed routine care during the pandemic and more outdoor activities leading to injury.”

Some patients who are arriving in the ER could be using other services instead so that people facing urgent or emergency medical issues can be seen as quickly as possible. To that end, PeaceHealth officials are providing the following guidance.

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The emergency room is the appropriate care location for individuals experiencing serious or potentially life-threatening injury or illness. Examples include: severe burns; serious lacerations; or sudden blurred vision, dizziness, weakness or loss of coordination or balance. The ER also is the appropriate for symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing or severe abdominal pain that may require an extensive work-up– lab tests and imaging–in a short period of time. Vulnerable groups with serious medical issues, such as infants under three months old with a fever, should also be taken to the ER.

Those experiencing conditions that are not life- or limb-threatening should seek treatment at a primary care, urgent care or same-day care clinic.

PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center (July 29, 2021)

They also provided guidance via the following graphics.

More information provided by PeaceHealth about appropriate facilities to go to for care can be viewed by clicking here.

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