(WXYZ) — As the weather gets cooler and winter approaches, doctors are predicting a spike in COVID-19 cases and more hospitalizations which could put emergency departments at risk of being overwhelmed again.
“I was in there for like 5 hours,” said Detroit resident Shanice Williamson.
Five hours, that is how long Shanice Williamson was in the emergency room back in June.
She kept thinking to herself, “I hope I don’t bleed to death. Seriously because I was in there for a long time.”
Doctors at Michigan Medicine are anticipating longer wait times this fall.
Brad Uren, an emergency physician with Michigan Medicine says, “emergency departments are beginning to see more traffic, longer waits, and some overflow.”
Doctors say Michigan cases are slowly rising toward what would be the fourth surge since March of 2020.
“I think it would be foolish to not prepare for another wave,” said Dr. Nick Gilpin, medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology at Beaumont Health.
“I’ll tell you what I am concerned about, cooler weather, people moving indoors, a significant unvaccinated portion of the population,” said Gilpin.
He received his COVID-19 booster on Thursday as a way to protect himself and set an example reminding people that it’s important to get the vaccine.
“Most of the patients we are seeing in our hospitals right now with covid are unvaccinated patients,” he says.
As doctors and nurses work around the clock to care for patients, they want the public to know when to come to the ER.
“If you have a medical issue that you or a family member believes puts your life, limb, or body function at risk, come to the emergency room,” says Dr. Uren. "If a person experiences chest pain, facial droop, weakness in the arms or legs, or altered consciousness, don’t hesitate to seek emergency care - These conditions are time-sensitive, meaning the more time that passes, the more brain or heart tissue that may be permanently damaged. Don’t delay care if you believe you may be having a heart attack or a stroke.”
Doctors say if you’re experiencing non-life-threatening issues like a cold, some broken bones, or a minor cut, head to an urgent care or reach out to a primary care provider.
These places may also have shorter wait times.
To help keep beds open doctors at Michigan Medicine say some hospitals also have “at-home monitor programs” where patients can leave with monitoring equipment. Click here for more on those programs.