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Health officials ask those who do not need emergency care to avoid the ER

Posted at 9:15 AM, Jan 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-08 12:15:06-05

Cold and flu season is here and so is a spike in COVID-19 cases.

"Over the last week and a half to two weeks our 14 day average case count has more than doubled," said Michelle Shoresman, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department Public Information Officer.

The spike in cases is increasing hospitalizations and as a result, public health officials are asking those who do not need emergency care to avoid the emergency room.

"It's really important for people to go to the ER if you're sick. If you really need emergency room care, go seek that care," said Shoresman.

By going to Urgent Care instead of the ER allows doctors to focus on those who are in need of immediate medical attention.

"...but if you just have mild symptoms or you just feel like you need a test and you want to go there to try to get it, the ER is really not the best place to do that," said Shoresman.

Patient guidelines for Central Coast Dignity Health Hospitals were updated Wednesday. The updated guidelines show some hospitals including Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, French Hospital Medical Center, and Marian Regional Medical Center are limiting visitors.

According to the updated guidelines, "Patients may be accompanied by one visitor per day (with the exception of Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Units at Marian Regional Medical Center). One visitor may be permitted to accompany emergency patients, at the discretion of ER staff."

Some community members have already encountered problems visiting loved ones in the emergency room.

"I was trying to visit this girl that I was talking to because she was all hurt, but I couldn't," said Jeremiah Shelton, San Luis Obispo Resident."It's just really inconvenient."

Others feel these rules will keep patients safe.

"Well if it keeps people safe I don't see too much problem with it," said Garrett Foster, Cal Poly Student. "At the end of the day we need to do what we need to do to keep people safe."

"There should be limiting, but it shouldn't be cut off completely," said Kai Moy, Cal Poly Student.

One community member pointed out a potential problem with restricting access to visitors.

"For some people that may be their last moment and spending time with that special someone is very important to them because they won't get that back," said Moy.