May 18, 2020
Honorable Governor Andrew M Cuomo
Albany, New York 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo:
On behalf of the New York American College of Emergency Physicians (New York ACEP) representing physicians staffing emergency departments throughout the state of New York, we want to thank you for your thoughtful approach as you navigate New York residents through this COVID-19 pandemic. As physicians on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, we pride ourselves on providing excellent care to all patients 24/7/365. It is on behalf of our patients that we are writing to bring your attention to a major issue Emergency Departments are facing in the state.
A recent poll conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians shows that:
- Four in five adults (80 percent) say they are concerned about contracting COVID-19 from another emergency department patient or visitor if they need to access medical care.
- Nearly a third of adults (29 percent) have actively delayed or avoided seeking medical care due to concerns about contracting COVID-19.
Patients accessing medical care are down 30-60% throughout the state. Our members are seeing patients present later in their disease course for emergent conditions. This represents a significant danger to our state’s health on top of the COVID-19 crisis. For example, in strokes, time to intervene with a clot busting medication is limited if we hope to save patients from permanent disabilities or death. For heart attack patients, the longer they wait, the more damage is done to the heart, the greater the chance of death and the more profound the long-term detriments to quality of life.
The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) reported a nearly 400 percent increase in cardiac arrest home deaths in late March and early April. This is very concerning to emergency physicians. Many measures have been implemented within Emergency Departments in the state to ensure patient safety if they need to seek care in the Emergency Department including the creation of separate facilities and treatment areas for coronavirus patients to reduce potential contact and the implementation of aggressive cleaning measures.
It is important to stay home and follow social distancing guidelines, but the public must be reminded that they should not delay or avoid medical attention, especially in an emergency. Hospitals are safe.
New York ACEP is asking you to use all available resources to strongly encourage the public to seek care in the Emergency Department if they have any illness of significant concern and to assure the public that Emergency Departments are a safe place to seek care.
New York ACEP stands ready and willing to assist you in any way we can. Equally important to emergency physicians is the need to ensure our patients, your constituents, are cared for in their time of need and remain healthy.
Jeremy Cushman, MD FACEP
CC: Howard A. Zucker, MD JD, New York State Health Commissioner
Robert F. Mujica, Jr., MGA JD, New York State Director of the Budget
Paul Francis, JD, Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Health and Human Services
Megan Baldwin, BS MBA, Assistant Secretary to the Governor for Health