UAB separates ER into two groups to prevent COVID spread

Emergency room visits during pandemic

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - In a health emergency, time means everything, and UAB's ER says they're prepared to help. The emergency room is open, and doctors don't want patients who are in need of urgent help to be scared to get help.

“We have seen quite a big influx in patients who are scared or fearful,” says Dr. Blayke Gibson, UAB’s emergency department medical director.

Dr. Gibson says they try to comfort and reassure patients as best as they can.

“We are absolutely prepared and happy to help patients if they feel they have anything life-threatening, I think the environment right now is scary and that’s understandable,” she said.

The key -- life-threatening.

Patients who suspect they have COVID-19, or those who have an illness that's troublesome but not urgent, should consider other options.

“We prefer patients contact their primary care physicians first if they do not have a life threatening condition,” said Gibson.

For those who need immediate care, UAB has changed the way the ER system operates.

“We have completely separated waiting areas, for patients who have symptoms for an influenza like illness or COVID, and so patients who have none of those symptoms should never be, or encounter, patients who do,” said Gibson.

And of the embattled healthcare heroes: “They are some of the most resilient, caring people I know,” said Gibson, adding it is an honor to work beside them every day.

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