Emergency staff ask for help prioritizing care for patients with urgent or emerging medical needs

As the omicron variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus quickly spreads throughout the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region, Johns Hopkins Medicine reminds those seeking COVID-19 testing that emergency rooms are for emergencies only. Seeking testing at an emergency room — without an urgent or emerging medical need — diverts critical, life-saving resources from people who are truly experiencing an emergency.

This request follows an increase in the numbers of people asking for COVID-19 testing in the emergency rooms at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and other Johns Hopkins member hospitals: Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Howard County General Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital and Suburban Hospital.

Anyone experiencing COVID-19 emergency warning symptoms should go immediately to the nearest emergency room or call 9-1-1. Those symptoms, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds, depending on skin tone

The Maryland Hospital Association and the D.C. Hospital Association recommend that — in the absence of emergency warning symptoms — those seeking COVID testing should:

  • Check the Maryland Department of Health for nearby testing locations (covidlink.maryland.gov/content/testing).
  • Make an appointment with their doctor or go to an urgent care facility.
  • Buy a rapid antigen kit at a local pharmacy and test at home.

Johns Hopkins Medicine urges people not to call the emergency department for medical advice. Staff members in these facilities are unable to take phone calls.

To learn more about patient care, testing and vaccinations, and for information about COVID-19, go to hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus.


Scott E


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