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Laguna Beach

Volume 15, Issue 11  | February 7, 2023Subscribe

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Guest Column

Our Emergency Department is a safe place to receive emergency treatment care

By Guisou Mahmoud, MD, FACEP

Medical Director for the Sue and Bill Gross Emergency Department at

Mission Hospital Laguna Beach

For many decades, Mission Hospital has provided vital care for community members in need of emergency medical care for conditions ranging from broken bones and deep cuts to more critical conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, sepsis, and other serious conditions. 

Although there has been great focus recently on providing life-saving care for those diagnosed with COVID-19, the Mission Hospital Laguna Beach emergency room remains a safe place to receive emergency, critical care.

While social distancing measures will continue to remain in place, don’t be afraid to visit our emergency department if you are experiencing a health emergency. Our highest priority is to provide safe care to protect our patients and caregivers from infection. 

Please do not try to manage the symptoms of a life-threatening, time-sensitive emergency at home or with phone or video consults. We are seeing patients everyday who waited too long to be seen, causing more serious complications.

If you are having symptoms such as chest pain, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, stroke symptoms, dizziness, fever with headache and weakness, you should go to the emergency department for care. 

Below are three misconceptions about emergency departments in this COVID-19 era:

Misconception: I can catch COVID-19 if I go to my local emergency department for treatment, so I should stay away.

Fact: First and foremost, hospitals across the county, including both our Mission Hospital campuses, continue to take strong precautions to protect everyone who enters from being exposed to COVID-19. As physicians and caregivers, we are highly skilled and knowledgeable in infection prevention and treatment. We screen everyone who enters the hospital for infectious symptoms, including checking their temperature. And, we have rapid tests available for caregivers and patients who need testing.

During this time of COVID-19, patients who present with related symptoms are screened in a separate area outside of the emergency department. They are also masked to prevent any possible spread of infection to caregivers or others in the hospital seeking treatment for medical emergencies.

Our Emergency close up

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Submitted photo

Guisou Mahmoud, MD, FACEP

 In addition, COVID-19 patients require special negative pressure rooms that are specifically designed to prevent the spread of infectious contaminants. These rooms are isolated from others in the hospital, which adds an extra level of protection. Because we have a newly built emergency room, we have the latest state of the art technology, including multiple negative pressure rooms and equipment.

Misconception: Sitting on a chair in the emergency room can expose me to COVID-19, so I should stay away. 

Fact: Our team of highly trained clinicians follows stringent infection prevention protocols that include regular sterilization of every area within the hospital. In addition, all caregivers wear the appropriate personal protective equipment and meticulously sterilize equipment on a frequent basis. 

Misconception: My local emergency room is overcrowded because of COVID-19 patients, so I should stay away if I am having a medical emergency.

Fact: Our emergency department is not crowded with COVID-19 patients.  The vast majority of our patients in the emergency department and in the hospital are not currently being treated for COVID-19, but for other health conditions. 

We are fully prepared. We have added extra ICU beds with negative pressure rooms and increased the number of critical care and other medical specialty physicians. Therefore, we are able to treat a range of all medical emergencies and have improved capacity to treat an even greater scope of medical conditions unrelated to COVID. If you need to spend time in the hospital recovering, we will continue to provide the highest and safest level of care for you. 

In contrast to some hospitals in major metropolitan areas and larger hospitals, Mission Hospital Laguna Beach has plenty of availability to treat your medical condition.   

Staying home and trying to treat your symptoms yourself can place your health and life in jeopardy. The absolute best thing you can do is to promptly obtain emergency medical care when you need it.

We are trained to look at the unique needs of each person and to safely provide the necessary care. 

Editor’s note: The information in this column expresses the experience and opinions of Guisou Mahmoud, MD, FACEP. Dr. Mahmoud is director of emergency medicine at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach, part of Providence St. Joseph Health, a not-for-profit provider of integrated health care.


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