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Throughout the pandemic, our ERs have remained open to care for our communities. Here’s why it’s safe to seek emergency care when you need it.

Sometimes, no matter how careful we are, emergencies happen. And that means you need to make a trip to the ER — even during a pandemic.

From concerns about burdening emergency room staff to worries about catching the virus, many people have concerns about going to the Emergency Department right now. But if you have a true health emergency, not getting immediate care can negatively impact your health over the long term.

We want you to feel safe and confident should you ever need us for emergency care. So, here are three reasons not to delay a needed trip to the emergency room — and how we’re keeping our ERs safe for everyone.

1. Your health shouldn’t wait.

Making a necessary visit to the emergency room can protect your long-term health. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, such as a stroke or heart attack, it’s important to act fast to get a swift diagnosis and treatment. 

Our ERs are open 24/7, and our teams are ready when you need us. You should go to the emergency room for:

  • Animal bites
  • Broken bones
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • High, uncontrolled fever
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loss of or blurred vision
  • Major head injuries
  • Severe bleeding or trauma
  • Severe burns
  • Sharp abdominal pain
  • Stroke

If you aren’t sure if you should go to the emergency room, call 911. Explain your situation to the operator, and they’ll advise you on how to best seek care.

2. We’re taking extra steps to keep the ER safe for you.

From rearranged waiting and exam rooms to masked and gloved care teams, here are some of the precautions we’re taking to keep you protected in our ERs and hospitals:

  • Isolating those with COVID-19 or related symptoms in separate, designated areas and units.
  • Requiring everyone to wear a mask. Don’t have one? No worries — we’ve got one for you.
  • Limiting the number of people in our waiting rooms and expanding the space between chairs.
  • Arranging our exam rooms to reduce unnecessary contact with high-touch surfaces.
  • Deep cleaning our care sites between patients and multiple times throughout the day.
  • Limiting the number of visitors in our hospitals and clinics. 
  • Screening every person when they come in — patients, visitors and employees — including taking temperatures with a no-touch thermometer. By screening all our employees for COVID-19, no matter where they work, we’re taking significant precautions to keep our staff and patients safe.


3. We’re providing care for non-emergencies through telemedicine.

While there’s no substitute for emergency care, there are situations when a virtual visit may be all you need. Telemedicine appointments provide care through a video or phone call instead of requiring an in-person visit to our clinics or hospitals. This means fewer patients and visitors in our hospitals — and our emergency rooms.

Telemedicine appointments are appropriate for non-urgent treatment, including: 

  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Allergy
  • Rash
  • Sinus infection
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) 

However, know that telemedicine should not replace emergency room care. If you aren’t sure whether you need to visit the emergency room, call 911. They can advise if a visit to the ER is needed, if you should visit urgent care or if you should call your doctor for a virtual appointment.

Knowing when and how to seek care at the emergency room is a key part of taking charge of your health. Because, at the end of the day, you should seek care. And from care at the emergency room to telemedicine visits, we’ll be here for you when you need us.

Next steps:

Upcoming appointment? Learn more about what we’re doing to keep you safe
ER or urgent care? Know where to go
Schedule a telemedicine appointments

Emergency room sign during Covid-19

Geisinger COVID-19 hotline

570-284-3657

Call our 24/7 hotline for answers about care recommendations and more.

Visit Geisinger’s Coronavirus Resource Center for the latest information and helpful resources.

Get virtual care now