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ER COVID tests leading to 'dire consequences' amid surge in patients

Doctors say it's only further hindering an already strained hospital.

ATLANTA — As hospitals continue to fill up due to a surge in coronavirus cases, doctors are begging the public to stay clear of ERs and ICUs for COVID-19 testing. 

According to a spokesperson for Piedmont Hospital, it's an issue that's only further handicapping hospital resources, and one ER doctor says there could be dire consequences if things don't change.

“The issue is the resources that are getting drained because of these people," Dr. Mehrdod Ehteshami explained. "There's only one of me that's in the ER, so if my time is being spent with a patient that could have gotten this done at Walgreens, then what happens to the patient next door that's having a heart attack that I haven't gotten a chance to see yet?"

The issue is prompting the Georgia Department of Public Health to get involved. 

DPH put out a call to Georgians to do their part in reducing strain on hospitals, asking them to get COVID-19 testing outside of emergency departments in order to keep hospital beds and ERs open.

“I think sometimes people just start panicking. I get it, this is a disease that’s killing hundreds of thousands of people and now you’re getting concerned about it," Dr. Ehteshami added.

According to the latest White House COVID report, there are 5500 COVID patients currently hospitalized in Georgia, just shy of the state's record back in January. 

Meanwhile, DPH's message comes as Governor Kemp prepares to deploy over 100 National Guard members with medical training to hospitals across the state to help with the surge in COVID-19 patients.