With increased awareness and fear of COVID-19, some patients have refrained from going to the Emergency Department, even when most needed. Doctors at UC San Diego Health wish to reassure the public that fear of coronavirus should not deter patients from seeking medical care. Life-threatening medical issues, such as heart attacks and strokes, require the highest quality of care in a timely manner with specially trained teams of medical professionals.

“We understand that there is a lot of anxiety surrounding this global pandemic. But we want patients in San Diego County to know that if they are experiencing a medical emergency, it is paramount that they go to an emergency department or call 9-1-1 for care. We don’t want patients delaying care out of fear of the coronavirus or out of concern of adding additional strain to the medical system. That delay could have a serious yet avoidable consequence,” said Ted Chan, MD, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego Health.

“In the case of a stroke, every second counts. From first responders to our hospital staff, we are in this together and equipped and ready to safely serve our entire community for both COVID-19 related and unrelated cases.”

General signs and symptoms that require immediate medical attention are:

  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Weakness/numbness on one side
  • Slurred speech
  • Serious burns
  • Head injury or serious falls
    Confusion, fainting or altered mental status

UC San Diego Health has implemented safety measures and is taking all the necessary steps to reduce exposure to the novel coronavirus in our hospitals and clinics. For example, all staff and patients must wear masks to reduce the risk of exposures. Patients with COVID-19 are isolated from the rest of the patients in the hospital to reduce potential contacts. In addition, UC San Diego Health has implemented a program to test staff for infection to reduce workplace exposures.

Patients also have access to UC San Diego Health’s same-day services, such as urgent care (non-life-threatening medical issues like a broken bone, stitches or a urinary tract infection), express care (minor medical issues like an ear infection or sprain) and telemedicine options to receive care and treatment.

Experts Available:

Ted Chan, MD, chair, Department of Emergency Medicine
Gary Vilke, MD, vice chair, clinical operations, Department of Emergency Medicine

Learn more about emergency care and COVID-19 resources at health.ucsd.edu/coronavirus