EMS workers 3

Lancaster EMS clinical providers wheel a patient to the emergency department at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital on April 9, 2020.

Emergency room visits are picking up after slowing down during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to local hospitals.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital said April ER visits were down 46% compared to April 2019. It said May visits are up about 15% over last month.

WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital said after the quarantine began in March, ER visits dropped by about 50%, but have started to climb in the past few weeks.

“As people start to get out more, we are seeing more things such as falls, broken bones and cuts,” Orie Chambers, director of clinical services at WellSpan Ephrata, said in a written statement. “We also are noticing that the sicker patients are actually sicker. That may be because people were concerned about coming to the hospital due to COVID-19, and so were putting off seeking care.”

UPMC Lititz said visits initially dropped about 40% , but its emergency department is now seeing only about 25% fewer patients than before the pandemic hit.

A written statement from Dr. Anthony Guarracino, UPMC Pinnacle chair of emergency medicine, said the hospital believes people are avoiding care because they’re concerned about the virus. He also attributed reduced ER visits to fewer car accidents and injuries resulting from the state’s stay-at-home order.

“In addition to seeing patients suspected of COVID-19, we are also seeing patients with other infectious diseases, cardiac chest pain, stroke, complications of diabetes, etc.,” Guarracino wrote. “Avoiding needed care, whether emergent or chronic, can worsen conditions, cause pain, affect a person's quality of life, and even lead to death.”

All the hospitals reported precautions including personal protective equipment for staff and screening and masking patients.

UPMC Lititz said visits initially dropped about 40%, but its emergency department is now seeing only about 25% fewer patients than before the pandemic hit. A written statement from Dr. Anthony Guarracino, UPMC Pinnacle chair of emergency medicine, said it believes people are avoiding care because they're concerned about the virus — and that it's also seeing fewer visits because there have been fewer car accidents and injuries under the stay-at-home order.

"In addition to seeing patients suspected of COVID-19, we are also seeing patients with other infectious diseases, cardiac chest pain, stroke, complications of diabetes, etc.," he wrote. "Avoiding needed care, whether emergent or chronic, can worsen conditions, cause pain, affect a person’s quality of life, and even lead to death."

All the hospitals reported precautions including personal protective equipment for staff and screening and masking patients. 

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