During a time when COVID-19 has dominated care at U.S. hospitals, local medical facilities are trying to make sure non-COVID patients are getting proper medical care.

Tyler Memorial Hospital in Tunkhannock has taken extra precautions in its emergency room to keep patients who are seeking medical care safe.

Dr. Kim Kross, Emergency Medical Director at Tyler, said that although mask wearing and eye protection have become parts of the requirements for all staff, the emergency room has taken other precautions as well.

“Tyler has downgraded its ER wait times drastically,” Kross said. “People who are showing any sort of COVID symptoms, or are in the COVID high risk category, are immediately put into an isolated room and cared for appropriately.”

In the past year, Tyler has seen a decrease in the volume of patients showing up to the emergency room to seek medical care. Kross said that the pandemic has played a major factor in this, and it is a trend that has been seen across Commonwealth Health hospitals.

“There’s no question that the pandemic has put great fear in a lot of people, especially the older population that is more at risk,” Kross said. “However, there is no reason anyone should be afraid to seek medical care. They should be more afraid to not seek medical care.”

February is American Heart Month, and Tyler has done a lot of work in is cardiac screenings and emergencies. Kross said that during the pandemic nothing has changed in the way that these types of treatments are done.

“As soon as someone comes into the ER with chest pain, that person is brought back immediately to be evaluated just like they would be if the hospital was in normal operations,” Kross said. “The heart is the biggest and most important muscle in the body, so we haven’t changed any procedures for how we do those types of screenings.”

When a patient comes into Tyler’s ER complaining of chest pain, they are immediately taken back to be evaluated. Tyler uses electrocardiogram technology as a starting place to check for heart attacks.

“Sometimes heart attacks could show up on the EKG readings right away,” Kross said. “Sometimes, the patient will have to be given more tests or sent to other physicians, but the EKG technology usually provides good readings into the patient’s health.”

If a patient is showing cardiac abnormalities, they are then given proper treatment and placed on a heart monitor so the physicians and nurses can monitor the patient at all times. If the patient requires more treatment than can be provided, they will be quickly transferred to Regional Hospital of Scranton or Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

Tyler’s ER is also fully recognized as an accredited chest pain center by the American College of Cardiology, which shows that the hospital meets the quality measures of care put forward by that group. Kross said that the accreditation should give people a sense of security when going to be screened.

“In the past year, we have seen some patients come in to get checked out later than they probably should have,” Kross said. “Some of them would have had better outcomes if they showed up earlier. It’s a scary time.”

Kross had one final message for the people of Wyoming County who still may be a little hesitant about going to the hospital.

“You will be safer at Tyler than you will be staying home, and taking a chance with chest pain or any other type of sickness,” she said.