HOUSTON – It's a public service announcement being made to save lives.
The Montgomery County Hospital District released a PSA Tuesday to get out a very clear message to county residents: Don’t let coronavirus scare you from calling 911.
“This is not just a Montgomery County problem,” said Dr. Robert Dickson, medical director for the MCHD EMS. “If you’ve looked deeply into the data this is a Houston regional problem, this is a Texas problem, this is a U.S. problem. It’s a problem likely around the world.”
The hospital district looked at a 60-day period from parts of this past February to May and compared it to the same time frame last year. They discovered a 30% increase in the number of people who died at home, rather than calling 911, from conditions like heart attack, stroke, infections and various forms of trauma.
Doctors directly attribute the rise in the so-called "out of hospital deaths" to people being afraid to call 911. They were afraid because they did not want to wind up at a hospital and potentially expose themselves to the coronavirus.
“Patients have a big phobia and they see lots of images that make them scared of the hospital,” Dr. Dickson said. “We really wanted to reach out and say, ‘Hey. The 911 system is still intact.’”
The hospital district is reminding people that hours and even minutes can make the difference between a healthy outcome and death. They say coronavirus has provided new challenges but the old ones remain.
“COVID has changed a lot of the way we practice,” Dr. Dickson said. “But it hasn’t put a hold on people’s chronic medical conditions.”