With COVID-19 fears keeping people at home, hospitals in Montgomery County and the entire region are seeing significant decreases in emergency department visits, writes Harold Brubaker for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Tower Health has seen the number of visits drop from 153,727 in 2019 to 129,744 in 2020, decreasing by 16 percent. Main Line Health also saw a significant decline from 90,519 ER visits in 2019 to 77,871 in 2020 or 14 percent.
A definitive explanation for this reduction in visits is yet to be determined, but the overwhelming consensus seems to be a fear of contracting COVID-19.
“Did a bunch of people find a primary-care doctor and stop going to the emergency room? I don’t think that’s what happened,” said Jack Lynch, Main Line Health’s chief executive. ”I think people are afraid to go to the hospital, afraid to go to the emergency room.”
As a result, there is a chance that some of the skipped visits have contributed to worsening health or even death for individuals who stayed home.
Meanwhile, many hospitals – including Tower Health – have seen a sharp increase in telehealth, which is appropriate for a part of traditional ER visits.
Read more about the decrease in ER visits in The Philadelphia Inquirer.