ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Erie County Department of Health wants people to consider all their options before deciding if a trip to the emergency room is the right move.

Emergency rooms across Erie County are seeing an influx in patients and Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein says those with less severe illnesses should look for alternative treatment.

ECDOH suggests people with minor ailments consult with their primary care physicians, medical practices and specialty physicians. They also suggest visiting an urgent care center, walk-in clinic, seeking virtual medicine/telemedicine through a hospital emergency department, medical practice or health insurance company.

“We do not want to discourage people from seeking medical care,” Dr. Burstein said. “However, emergency department resources are finite, and are not designed to diagnose chronic conditions or treat minor illness. When patients with minor illnesses that could be treated by a primary care physician or telemedicine visit emergency departments, it delays and diverts medical resources from people with heart attacks or strokes, women in labor, vehicle accident victims, and children with serious illness.”

Here’s a list of medical conditions that require emergency care:

  • Accidental or sudden injury – vehicle accidents, burns, smoke inhalation, deep or large wounds, falls or head trauma
  • Bleeding that will not stop
  • Breathing problems (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath)
  • Change in mental status (unusual behavior, confusion, difficulty arousing, slurred speech)
  • Chest pain
  • Choking
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Feeling of self-harm
  • Head or spine injury
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness, or change in vision
  • Swallowing a poisonous substance
  • Severe abdominal pain or pressure

If you believe a trip to the ER is right for you, here’s more information about local hospitals:

  1. Bertrand Chaffee Hospital
  2. Catholic Health
  3. Catholic Health, Telemedicine
  4. Erie County Medical Center
  5. ECMC, Telemedicine
  6. Kaleida Health
  7. Kaleida Health, Telemedicine
  8. Erie County Department of Health

Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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