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Why You Should Not Be Afraid To Go To The Emergency Room

Safety measures are in place to separate people with respiratory illnesses.

 Sponsored by Baptist Memorial Hospital – North Mississippi

With COVID-19 – the illness caused by the novel coronavirus – still present in Oxford and Lafayette County, and with the whole state of Mississippi under a shelter-in-place order, it’s natural that people should feel afraid.

However, one thing that people needn’t fear is visiting the hospital in an emergency – although there are worrying signs that this is what’s happening.

Visits to Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi’s emergency department are down by almost 50 percent, according to its medical director, Dr. Jason Waller.

This drop in patient numbers began in mid-March, around the time that the first cases of the new virus were diagnosed in the area. The consequences of this fear could be deadly, particularly in the case of a suspected heart attack or stroke, where time is of the essence when it comes to treatment.

“I am afraid that people are not seeking medical treatment, because they are concerned that they may be exposed to COVID-19,” Waller said. “These conditions are extremely time sensitive and better outcomes are achieved with earlier treatment. Delayed treatment could be life threatening.”Dr. Jason Waller DO - Baptist Memorial Hospital - North Mississippi

He stressed that Baptist Memorial-North Mississippi is “taking all precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” to ensure the hospital is safe for anyone seeking emergency treatment.

Symptoms of the coronavirus include high fever (100.4 degrees or higher), dry cough, muscle aches and fatigue and shortness of breath.

Everyone who enters the hospital is screened for these symptoms by having their temperature checked and answering a series of questions, Waller said.

Visitor numbers have been “severely limited,” and those who do enter the hospital are given a face mask. Anyone seeking emergency treatment who has symptoms of the virus will be sent to a separate area to be evaluated and treated.

“We are being careful to separate patients that have respiratory symptoms from all other patients,” Waller said.

He urged anyone experiencing a suspected heart attack or stroke not to delay evaluation of symptoms.

For a heart attack, the most common warning sign is chest discomfort, which could feel like pressure, tightness, pain or a squeezing sensation. Other symptoms include: discomfort in both arms, the back, jaw or abdomen.

Typical symptoms of a stroke include facial drooping, arm weakness or numbness and speech difficulty.

“I encourage anyone with these symptoms to seek immediate medical attention,” Waller said. “We are prepared to see these patients any time of day or night.”

Striking a more positive note, Waller said the local community has done an outstanding job in adhering to social distancing practices.

“I applaud our mayor, aldermen and county supervisors for their swift action when this disease first struck our community,” Waller said. “I believe that we have seen a flattening of the curve in our area due to these vigilant efforts.”


For more information, on emergency services at Baptist Memorial Hospital – North Mississippi go to

For more information about Baptist Memorial Hospital – North Mississippi link to






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