Toolkit: Seasonal Illnesses and Strain on Emergency Departments
Emergency departments at many hospitals throughout Pennsylvania and nationally are strained as seasonal respiratory illnesses—particularly RSV—are circulating stronger and earlier than usual. Some emergency departments are at or approaching capacity and these challenges are likely to worsen as the season progresses.
Use this toolkit to help communicate about these challenges. HAP will continue to update this toolkit with additional assets and resources.
- Hospital emergency departments are strained—with some approaching or at capacity—as seasonal illnesses, the flu, and COVID-19 spread in Pennsylvania communities.
- RSV—which can be particularly dangerous for young children—is spreading much stronger and earlier than in the past, putting particular strain on children's hospitals and pediatric units.
- Two national crises are compounding this strain. There is a historic shortage of health care workers. At the same time, emergency departments are caring for more patients experiencing mental health emergencies and those patients are staying in the hospital longer because there is a shortage of services that provide post-acute care.
- Be prepared to possibly experience long waits in the emergency department. Please be patient and understand that hospitals and their staff are doing the best they can to navigate these challenges to provide high-quality care for patients.
- Consider your primary health care provider, urgent care, or telehealth for non-emergency care. Always go to the emergency department for emergencies or life-threatening illnesses and injuries and call 9-1-1 if you need immediate medical attention.
- Make sure you and your family are up-to-date on your flu shots and COVID-19 boosters.
- Flu shots are recommended every year for adults and kids 6 months and older.
- COVID-19 vaccine boosters are recommended for adults and children 5 years and older if it has been at least two months since their last vaccine dose. People who recently had a COVID-19 infection may consider delaying their booster until three months after the first positive test or when symptoms started.
- Please treat health care workers with respect and appreciation. Clinicians and support staff are under enormous strain and are working as hard as possible through challenging circumstances to ensure that all patients receive high-quality care. Violence and abuse against health care workers is never acceptable.
Many #pahospitals are strained as RSV, the flu, COVID-19, and other seasonal illnesses circulate in our communities. There may be long ER waits. Please be patient and know hospital staff are working to make sure all patients get the best care.
Feeling sick? Urgent care, primary care, and telehealth are great options for non-emergency care. Always go to the hospital ER for emergencies or life-threatening illnesses and injuries and call 9-1-1 if you need immediate medical attention.
If you haven’t had a flu shot this year or a COVID-19 booster in the past two months, it’s time to get protected for fall and winter. Learn how to protect yourself and your family and find vaccines near you: https://www.vaccines.gov
#DYK flu shots are recommended every year for everyone 6 months and up and new COVID-19 boosters are recommended for everyone 5 and older? Learn how to protect yourself and your family and find vaccines near you: https://www.vaccines.gov
Social Media Assets
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Using HAP as a Resource
HAP’s communications team is ready to assist and support your communications efforts. Please don’t hesitate to contact Liam Migdail, HAP’s director, media relations, for assistance.
Topics: Access to Care, Emergency Preparedness, Public Health
Revision Date: 10/21/2022
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