Richland doctor urges patients to only seek ER help in emergencies

RICHLAND, Wash. – “We train for crises, we’re prepared for them but we thought of the crises that sudden surge that we go in, we take care of it, and it’s over two years into it, it’s long it’s hard but we have a job to do,” Dr. John Matheson, ER Director of Kadlec in Richland said.

Dr. Matheson said healthcare workers are being stretched thin as they face the Omicron COVID-19 variant, and the emergency department at Kadlec in Richland isn’t immune.

He said the ER is filled with sick patients, and you may want to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

“We want to be a resource, we do not want to discourage anybody who has a serious medical condition certainly, anything that they believe to be an emergency, that is why we are here,” he said.

If you go with the sniffles, you could leave sicker with the virus itself, even with prevention measures.

“Not only are the public getting sick but we have caretakers who get sick and it causes a strain on staffing,” Dr. Matheson added.

So, when should you go to the ER?

“Chest pain, difficulty breathing, mental status changes, confusion; things that are true emergencies should come to the emergency department,” he explained.

Notice a COVID-19 test is not on that list.

Matheson said they want everyone who needs it to have access to testing and care but the ER is not the place.

“The emergency department is not a testing center and not an appropriate testing center, we simply do not have the resources to do so — not because we don’t want to but we simply don’t have
the resources,” he said.

If you have a deep cut that may need stitches or a sprain, Dr. Matheson said it may be best to reach out to your primary care doctor, an urgent care or Kadlec Expresscare.

Kadlec also offers Telemedicine appointments; you can visit with a doctor from a couch.

“For the routine minor things that can be seen elsewhere it’s probably more appropriate, for the resource limitations that we have now, we have to ask that you try to do that when appropriate,” he said.

For more details on when you should go to an ER, visit Kadlec’s website.

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