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Emergency Rooms Prepare for Surge During the Eclipse –

Liv Osby , wltx 8:58 PM. EDT August 20, 2017

(Photo: Getty Images)

Emergency room doctors around the country are gearing up for a surge in patients Monday in states like South Carolina that are in the path of the solar eclipse.

I suspect there will be an increase in patient traffic to ERs, especially in areas expecting a large influx of eclipse-watchers, such as Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina and Missouri, said Dr. Becky Parker, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Total Solar Eclipse – Everything You Need to Know

When a population surges, even temporarily, ER visits tend to rise, she said. Anything out of the ordinary that shakes up a regular routine, like this eclipse, or daylight savings, can lead to more vehicle accidents.

In addition to accidents, there could be an increase in heat exposure as well as eye injuries from looking at the sun, according ACEP.

Greenville Health System is checking its ER staffing levels and its command center will be manned to monitor the patient census and any issues that could arise, spokesman Dudley Brown said.

The Upstates extra visitors could impact phone lines and Internet service, he said. We will monitor those communication tools and schedule briefings throughout the day to make sure GHS providers and departments are aware of any issues taking place that could impact communication or the larger population visiting the Upstate.

Bon Secours St. Francis Health System is also making preparations.

We are participating in the health system preparations for the eclipse, said Greta Gue, administrative director of emergency services. With the influx of people coming into Greenville, we do expect to have a higher volume and some incidents.

Rural ER physicians, especially those in the direct path of the eclipse, expect to see an increase in people seeking care, putting pressure on providers, ACEP reports.

Like many experts have said, emergency physicians remind the public that its extremely important to protect your eyes during this eclipse, Parker said.

If you choose to look at it, you must use proper eye protection for safe viewing from a reputable manufacturer,” she added. “Staring at the sun even for a second can cause severe, permanent loss of vision. Remember, regular sunglasses do not offer enough protection.

The Greenville News

Emergency Rooms Prepare for Surge During the Eclipse –


Millions of Americans live nowhere near a hospital, jeopardizing their lives – CNN

She is one of many medical providers working in towns 30 miles or more from a hospital, a distance that can make the difference between life or death.

The recent debates over the Affordable Health Care Act raised concerns that millions of Americans could lose access to health care. But already, there are many Americans who live in areas where critical-care services are lacking.

Dr. Jeremy Brown, director of the National Institute of Health’s Office of Emergency Care Research, said treatments for heart attacks and strokes are most effective when done quickly.

“Every minute that you can get the patient into treatment sooner will represent some brain cells that are saved,” he said.

Areas without hospitals are called “hospital deserts.” The deserts are biggest in Western states. In Nevada, for instance, there are only 13 hospitals providing critical-care services to rural areas.

The 2,400 residents of Tonopah, Nevada, who live halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, must travel more than 100 miles to get to a hospital. It was one of the most extreme examples that CNN found outside of Alaska.

Jessica Thompson, a registered nurse there, has family roots in the community dating back more than a century.

“I’ve been told multiple times that’s what I get for (choosing) to live in rural Nevada and that really upsets me, because that isn’t the choice I made. I was born in a hospital and I had a hospital my entire life up until two years ago,” she said.

Thompson worked at the hospital before it closed. She said the loss of the hospital was devastating, evoking lots of emotion.

“People angry, people sad, people scared,” she said. “You know the fear of, ‘Will I make it to another facility if something bad happens?’ “

Irene Carlyle said she and her husband moved from Los Angeles in 2005, hoping to stay in Tonopah. But now she doesn’t know if that will happen.

“We’re both on Medicare,” she said. “I said (to my husband), ‘You know, at some point, we’re going to have to move.’ It’s going to come. I mean at some point you get sick.”

Last year, the nonprofit Renown Medical Group began leasing space to provide primary care services, but for now, there are no immediate urgent care options.

Other parts of the country are dealing with similar problems, including pockets of Florida, Texas and New York.

A report last year by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation predicts that the problem will worsen as more rural hospitals are likely to shut down. This is in part because rural towns are losing population and becoming poorer.

Republican hopes to repeal and replace Obamacare could make the problem much worse, experts say, if millions of American lose their health insurance. That would put even more pressure on rural hospitals.

Some in Congress have proposed efforts to try to save rural hospitals. A bipartisan group of senators led by Iowa Republican Charles Grassley introduced a bill that would change Medicare rules to allow rural hospitals to have an emergency room and outpatient care, without the need for hospital beds.

“A car accident or a heart attack is dangerous under the best of circumstances, but it’s a lot more dangerous for someone who’s far away from an emergency room,” Grassley said. “When a rural hospital closes, its emergency room closes with it.”

Thompson, the nurse in Tonopah, believes something needs to be done.

“There’s a lot of people out in the rural community who feel like they’ve been forgotten,” she said.

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Millions of Americans live nowhere near a hospital, jeopardizing their lives – CNN