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Outreach Campaign Encourages People to Overcome Hospital Fears

A new study says since the start of the pandemic, 911 calls for emergency medical services in the United States have dropped by 26% compared with the past two years. (Adobe Stock)
A new study says since the start of the pandemic, 911 calls for emergency medical services in the United States have dropped by 26% compared with the past two years. (Adobe Stock)
August 5, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- New coronavirus cases are climbing in states such as Virginia, but concerns persist that people dealing with other health emergencies may be avoiding the hospital out of infection fears. A new awareness campaign aims to ease those concerns, especially for people of color.

An online survey for the American Heart Association found that 55% of Hispanics and 45% of Blacks said they'd be scared to go to a hospital with heart attack or stroke symptoms because of COVID-19 fears.

Dr. Federico Asch at MedStar Washington Hospital Center said the results mirror fewer 911 calls in recent months, but these warning signs shouldn't be ignored.

"These are situations that can actually kill people, like heart attack or stroke, at a much higher rate than COVID itself," he said.

Health experts have said COVID-19 cases disproportionately have affected certain ethnic groups, which is likely to be creating these concerns.

The Heart Association is launching a public awareness campaign in English and Spanish. Called "Don't Die of Doubt," it reminds people that a hospital is the safest place to go if they're experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.

Asch, who also is a regional board president for the Heart Association, said that while it's reasonable to worry about becoming infected with COVID if you go to the hospital, it isn't likely to happen.

"They have everything possible in place to prevent you from getting infected by COVID," he said.

If stroke or heart attack symptoms are ignored, health officials have said, the next round of symptoms could be much more severe.

More details about the "Don't Die of Doubt" campaign are on the American Heart Association's website.

Disclosure: American Heart Association Mid Atlantic Affiliate contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, Smoking Prevention. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - VA