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Where To Go When You Get Sick During the Triple-demic


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the United States is currently seeing the highest levels of hospitalization for influenza at this point in flu season ever. Add to that RSV and a COVID resurgence and people are bound to question if, when and where they should get medical care.

April Alfano, RN, director of Nursing at Bridgeport Hospital and Justin Cahill MD, chair of Emergency Medicine, Bridgeport Hospital break down the best setting for your needs.

Emergency rooms are for breathing difficulties, excessive bleeding, chest pain and stroke symptoms

“Chest pain, difficulty breathing and signs of stroke are all reasons to go to the ED,” said Dr. Cahill. “These are all conditions that need to be addressed as soon as possible with potentially life-saving treatments.”

Signs of stroke include facial drooping, slurred speech or severe dizziness. Chest pain may feel like an elephant is sitting on the chest and may be associated with shortness of breath, sweating or nausea.

“Persistent abdominal pain is another reason you may need to go to the Emergency Department. Conditions like appendicitis, kidney stones, and ectopic pregnancy may present with persistent pain and need to be treated.” said Dr. Cahill.

These symptoms are not exhaustive. If you're not sure, call your doctor's office. For more concerning symptoms call 911.

Urgent Care is for non-urgent ailments

“Urgent care centers are often under-utilized” said Ms. Alfano. “They can treat rashes, cold symptoms, injuries, sprains and strains. They are especially useful when something happens after-hours.”

Alfano also mentioned that in this setting you will likely have less of a wait for these types of conditions as you will not be triaged among people with more time-sensitive emergencies.

“Our Urgent care doctors do a great job taking care of many illnesses. If a referral to the ED is necessary, we work to coordinate with our Emergency Departments by calling ahead to expedite care,” adds Dr. Cahill.

Primary care is for prevention, continuity of care and everyday ailments

“Having a primary care doctor can be vital,” said Dr. Cahill. “Many issues such as a sore throat, urinary tract infection or medication refill can be addressed over the phone or with a quick office visit. Having that relationship really makes the best use of everyone’s time.”

Even if your primary care office is backlogged – it is important to get a wellness appointment scheduled. During this visit you can discuss your concerns, assess your baseline health and you will be screened for mental health needs.

If you need to get swabbed for a virus – use the call center!

Many people are coming to the ED to get swabbed, however there is an easier way to get checked. Yale New Haven Health launched a new program to help patients with respiratory illnesses get tested fast. Call the YNHHS Call Center and a nurse will schedule viral testing for flu, RSV and COVID.

The call center can be reached at 833-ASK-YNHH (833-275-9644).