FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2021
Health Department and Health Care Providers Urge
Judicious Use of Emergency Care
BELLINGHAM, WA -- With local and regional emergency department capacity stretched by higher-than-normal patient volumes and COVID-19 related hospitalizations surging, the Whatcom County Health Department and local health care providers are urging people with non-emergency health care needs to seek care at primary care, same-day, and urgent care clinics.
“COVID-19 has surged again, driven by the rise of the more highly contagious Delta variant. Our hospital beds and emergency rooms are increasingly being used to treat patients with COVID-19,” said Dr. Greg Stern, Whatcom County health officer. “To keep our hospital available for those who need hospital-level and critical care, we ask everyone to help by going to the emergency department only when truly necessary. We also ask everyone to help by getting vaccinated and using masks to slow the spread of the virus and lower the need for hospitalization.”
“We’re asking people to use other options in our community for health care concerns that don’t require a visit to the emergency department,” said Worth Everett, MD, medical director of the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center emergency department (ED). “Our caregivers and other staff work incredibly hard to provide quality care to all patients of our medical center, but there are times when our emergency department isn’t the best option because someone could get the care they need at an urgent care clinic or their primary health care provider’s office. Freeing up space and keeping wait times down in the ED lets us do what we do best: quickly and skillfully taking care of acute medical emergencies.”
People should use the emergency department or call 911 for serious and life-threatening medical emergencies, like symptoms of chest pain, difficulty breathing, head or eye injuries, severe bleeding, severe burns, sudden loss of vision or blurry vision, major fractures, or loss of consciousness.
In contrast, many immediate but non-life-threatening or minor health care needs can be taken care of by visiting your primary care provider, an urgent care clinic, or a same-day clinic. Visit one of these types of health care providers for concerns like asthma attacks, moderate burns, minor or moderate cuts that require stitches, allergies, sprains, earaches, or cold and flu symptoms.
Urgent care and same-day clinics offer drop-in services, and many are open evenings and weekends. To find an urgent or same-day clinic, ask your health care provider about their locations and hours, or search online for a clinic near you.
This message is supported by local health care organizations Family Care Network, PeaceHealth, and Unity Care Northwest.
This information is also available as a PDF.
Jennifer Moon, Public Information Officer
Whatcom County Health Department
Bev Mayhew, Senior Director Marketing and Communications, PeaceHealth
Michele Anderson, Director of Marketing, Communications & Project Management
Family Care Network
(360) 318-8800, ext. 1322
Chris Kobdish, Director of Planning and Development Unity Care Northwest