If I have symptoms of COVID-19, when should I go to the ER?
While typical symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, Northern Westchester Hospital doctors are also seeing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain in positive-testing patients. If you think you have COVID-19, call your doctor. He or she can monitor your symptoms via telephone or video call if office visits aren’t possible and let you know what next steps to take. With mild symptoms like a fever and cough, home may be the best option, but if you feel you require emergency care, then it may be time to head to the hospital.
“You have to consider that any patient walking in might have COVID,” said Dr. Jim Dwyer, Chair of Emergency Medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital. “Right now, the majority of patients we’re seeing in the ED are sick with fever and shortness of breath, typical symptoms of COVID-19."
“If you have shortness of breath, we want you in the Emergency Department," he continued. "If you’re unable to hydrate yourself, or you’re getting dehydrated at home, we want you to come to the ER. We can evaluate you and make sure you are stable.”
Once you arrive at the hospital, you’ll be given a mask upon entry and a team of clinicians will evaluate your symptoms and determine a plan of care. Unfortunately, you have to do this alone; no family member or friend will be allowed to accompany you.
To that end, be prepared just in case you need to be admitted. According to Maureen Munson MSN, RN, NE-BC, Director of Nursing, Critical Care Division, you should bring along the following items:
- A list of your daily medications
- Phone charger (and your phone)
- Healthcare proxy/advance directives
- A notepad for writing down questions
- A to-go bag packed with anything else you may need
This is an uncertain time for everyone, but the team at Northern Westchester Hospital is here for you. For answers to more frequently asked questions, click here.