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Baylor Scott & White virtually treats COVID-19 patients to prevent overcrowded EDs

Baylor Scott & White virtually treats COVID-19 patients to prevent overcrowded EDs

The microwave is causing the emergency room of hospitals to be overcrowded, and they don’t want you to come to the emergency room unless you are seriously ill.

One hospital system is devising a way to be virtually with you on your COVID journey.

There is an influx of emergency room patients like never before. Many people come for testing. Some have no symptoms at all. Others have mild symptoms.

Baylor Scott & White keeps track of patients who don’t need to be in a hospital and treats people through technology.

“Just as there isn’t enough space for COVID patients, there isn’t enough space for people in the hospitals with other problems,” said Dr. Beth Kassanoff-Piper of the Dallas County Medical Society.

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More people are coming to ER now than at the peak of the delta variant spread.

“Some of the staff in the hospitals have COVID, just like other companies,” said Dr. Kassanoff-Piper. “So this is a real crisis.”

Trying to contain the crisis, Methodist Hospital System is posting a message on its social media asking people not to come to the emergency room for tests, but instead to their doctor, a pharmacy or a drive-through testing site. They urge people to keep space in ERs for emergencies.

Baylor Scott & White has gone a step further.

dr. Ashis Barad says they encourage patients to use the BSW Health App when people aren’t sick enough to get through the emergency room.

“What you’ll find are many different ways to interact with us, one of which is what we call an ‘e’ visit,” he said.

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People answer questions that help doctors decide what their symptoms might mean.

“Often we can just say these symptoms sound like a non-COVID problem, and you really don’t need care right now,” said Dr. barad. “But then that can also be a stepping stone to a video visit.”

When doctors see you and decide on a COVID diagnosis, they will accompany you on what is called a digital journey.

“If you don’t have to be in the hospital, you can be at home, and we can interact with you in a text-messaging way, asking how you’re doing,” said Dr. barad . “And if things start to deteriorate somehow, then we can ramp that up when that happens.”

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The idea is to keep your home where you’ll be safer from a new scary virus.

“A lot of patients when you have COVID is clearly just innate fear,” said Dr. barad. “And if you don’t have a system or providers with you along the way, you might feel alone. And we don’t want you to feel that way.”

If they can keep you out of the emergency room, then here’s room for some of those other emergencies. But people with super-high fevers or those who have trouble breathing should go to an emergency room in those cases, but not just for a COVID test.