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Can you go to the Emergency Department during a pandemic?

September 2, 2020

Dan Reaven, M.D., Medical Director of the Emergency Department at NCH.

The local news site recently reported that the last COVID-19 death in Arlington Heights was on July 10, 2020 (as of press time). To many, this brings a sense of relief that life is returning to “normal.” However, scientists and medical professionals have long warned of a second wave of the virus, which should definitely keep people on their toes and reminds us to continue to strictly follow precautions like hand washing, wearing masks and social distancing.

At NCH, we’ve been regularly asked in recent months if it’s safe to resume screenings or get medical care. Dan Reaven, M.D. is the Medical Director of the Emergency Department (ED) at NCH. We talked with him about the anxieties community members have when considering their healthcare while COVID-19 is still a concern.

“NCH has gone to great lengths to ensure that all visitors to the ED will encounter a safe and protected environment,” says Dr. Reaven. “We have increased the frequency of all cleaning, using products that will kill off any traces of COVID-19. We have also screened off certain areas of the waiting room and treatment areas and spaced out the department to ensure that we comply with the highest standards. To date, we have not recorded any instances of a patient or visitor to our ED contracting COVID-19 in our ED. I will go on record to state that our ED is safe for any all persons who need care.”

It’s common to not know the difference between an Immediate Care Center (ICC) and an ED in terms of level of care. Life-threatening concerns like signs of stroke or heart attack should be treated in the ED. Symptoms that you would normally take to your primary care physician like a sore throat or earache can be treated in an ICC when your doctor is not available.

Our Immediate Care Centers treat:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Animal bites
  • Broken bones/fractures
  • Cuts, sprains or strains
  • Burns
  • Eye injuries
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Respiratory illnesses and infections
  • Work-related injuries
  • Wounds requiring stitches

“Our ED is equipped to handle every person’s needs. Our ICCs are as well, but they are limited in their ability to perform certain tests,” Dr. Reaven explains. “If you think you need care right now, please come to see us and you will be seen quickly and with the highest quality of care you have come to expect from NCH.”

If you believe you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, we recommend you first call your physician to see what he or she recommends. He or she will advise you if you should go to one of our testing sites or if you are having more emergent symptoms and should go to the ED. Not all patients with the virus will require treatment. “We currently have the ability at our COVID-19 testing site at the Arlington Race Track to get a same-day COVID test. Our ED will also be happy to see you if you feel as though you are having emergency symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, headaches, chest pain or severe muscle aches,” says Dr. Reaven.

“We are here to serve our community,” Dr. Reaven adds. “We have been and will always be your go-to location for emergency care. We have highly trained, compassionate physicians and nurses to care for you and we commit to seeing you quickly, in little or no wait time. Your questions will be answered and your condition will be accurately diagnosed and treated. We are committed to safely serving you whenever the need arises.”

In addition, our Pediatric Emergency Department is staffed with pediatric emergency physicians from Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and is here to care for children with any acute or urgent complaints.

Dr. Reaven explains ED safety to State Representative Tom Morrison on Representative Morrison’s YouTube channel. Watch the interview here.