Baylor Scott & White treating COVID-19 patients virtually to avoid overcrowding ERs

The omicron surge is overcrowding hospital emergency rooms, and they don't want you coming to ER unless you are seriously ill.

One hospital system is coming up with a way to be with you on your COVID journey virtually.

There is an influx of ER patients like never before. Many people are coming for tests. Some have no symptoms at all. Others have minor symptoms.

Baylor Scott & White is keeping up with patients who don't need to be in a hospital and treating people through technology.

"Just like there's not enough room for COVID patients, there's not enough room for people in the hospitals with other issues too," said Dr. Beth Kassanoff-Piper with the Dallas County Medical Society.

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More people are coming to ER now than at the peak of the delta variant spread.

"Some of the staff at the hospitals is out with COVID, just like other businesses," Dr. Kassanoff-Piper said. "So this is a real crisis."

Trying to curb the crisis, Methodist Hospital System is posting a message to its social media, asking people not to come to ER for testing but go to their doctor, a pharmacy or a drive-through testing site instead. They are urging people to keep room in ERs for emergencies.

Baylor Scott & White has gone a step further.

Dr. Ashis Barad says they are urging patients to use the BSW Health App when people are not sick enough to come through the emergency room.

"What you will find is many different ways to interact with us one is what we call an ‘e’ visit," he said.

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People answer questions that help doctors decide what their symptoms may mean.

"Many times, we can just say that these symptoms sound like a non-COVID issue, and you really just don’t need care right now," Dr. Barad said. "But then that can also step you up to a video visit."

If doctors see you and decide on a COVID diagnosis, they will go with you on what’s called a digital journey.

"If you don't need to be in the hospital setting, then you can be at home, and we can then engage with you in a texting kind of fashion where we're asking how you're doing," Dr. Barad said. "And if things are starting to worsen in any way, then we can then step that up as that happens."

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The idea is to keep you home where you're safer fighting a new scary virus.

"A lot of patients if you are having COVID, there's obviously just innate fear," Dr. Barad said. "And if you don’t have a system or providers with you on the journey, you may feel alone. And we don't want you to feel that way."

If they can keep you out of ER, then here's room for some of those other emergencies. But people with super high fevers or those with trouble breathing should go to an ER in those instances, but not just for a COVID test.