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Health Letters to the Editor Reader Contributed

Letter: By Doing Our Part, We Can Save Lives

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To The Editor:

Over the years when I have spoken to patients about their experiences at busy emergency departments (EDs) I often hear about how they had to wait for hours, how they did not get seen for a long time, or how they got “stuck in a hallway” for hours before being taken up to a room. That is unfortunate, but is often unavoidable. You cannot time an illness around a large accident on the roads or when multiple people with gunshot wounds come into an ED.

Last year, however, I heard worse stories. And it was all because the EDs were overwhelmed with sick COVID patients. It was an unsettling time I thought I would never live through again.

I also saw people in the office or talked to people on the phone who needed to go to the ED but refused to because of fear of exposure to COVID. That was scary. (They eventually went, and waited for hours.)

Now hospitals and EDs are filling up again here in the Northeast and in other regions of the country.

Remember when we joked about saving lives by sitting on our couches back in March and April of 2020? It actually was no joke.

But now we have multiple ways to save lives.

  • Avoiding large indoor gatherings – which is why some recent events have been canceled
  • Wearing a mask in public
  • Getting vaccinated and boosted if/when eligible
  • Getting tested even for “common cold” symptoms
  • and following the guidance of our public health officials as found at www.cdc.gov or https://portal.ct.gov/DPH

When people view these measures as just “personal choice” they may not realize that our system is not able to handle massive levels of illness all at once. And it may be they themselves or a loved one on the gurney in the hallway for hours suffering and waiting for care because of too many people’s failure to take at least some of the reasonable actions listed above.

Elizabeth S. Freedman, MD
West Hartford

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