KEY POINTS

  • Many New Yorkers do not want to be taken to hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic
  • They are afraid they might catch the virus in the hospitals
  • Health officials say they must not be afraid to seek treatment of serious ailments

FDNY statistics reveal that there is an increase of 73% in total 911 calls that led to “refusals of medical aid,” with 37, 968 calls compared to 21,982 in the same period last year. In March, however, when coronavirus started to spread across New York with great speed, RMAs increased to 118%, from 6,777 last year to 14,706 in the same period this year. Early this month, the number further increased to 8,630, which eclipsed last year’s 2,578, or a shocking 235% rise.

Patients Risking Death

According to a paramedic with the FDNY, some 911 calls involving life-threatening symptoms like chest pains have resulted in patients risking death rather than be taken to a hospital. In an interview with The Post, EMT Luis Lopez, said, “There are numerous patients refusing because of COVID-19. People have underlying conditions and are refusing transport.”

Lopez said that after their evaluation, the patient would often tell them they do not want to be taken to the hospital because of fear of COVID-19 infection. The paramedic added, “We always want them to go because if you are calling 911, you obviously felt it was an emergency. But because of conditions [at the hospitals], people are refusing.”

Similar Situations In Other Parts Of NYC

Megan Pfeiffer, another FDNY paramedic, working in Queens, said similar situations are happening in this New York borough because of the outbreak. During an interview with The Post, Pfeiffer said, “I had a few that were non-COVID that were hesitant to go to the hospital but we had to take them.” She said these types of patients are almost more difficult than coronavirus patients.

Recently, Pfeiffer was featured by The Post in a front-page report detailing how the paramedics’ work in the city is being likened to a “battlefield triage.” According to the report, some are saying that EMTs are “pretty much bringing patients to the hospital to die.”

Hospitals Should Not Be Avoided

A Mount Sinai Hospital neurosurgeon has sent out a series of tweets cautioning people with stroke symptoms, including the deadliest called emergent large vessel occlusion should not avoid hospitals. In one of the tweets Friday, Dr. J. Mocco wrote, “People are afraid… past few days we’ve had 3 #stroke patients delay calling EMS for hours because they were afraid to be brought to a hospital.”

The neurosurgeon also tweeted that the number of emergent large vessel occlusion or ELVO cases handled by the Cerebrovascular Center in Mount Sinai has almost doubled. Dr. Mocco said that in his opinion, stroke cases are rising because COVID-19 possesses a pro-inflammatory element. In a direct message to The Post on Twitter Sunday, Mocco wrote, “Right now, people keep hearing they should avoid hospitals for non-emergencies, however, strokes are life-threatening.”