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Don't Let Uncertainty Keep You From Going to the ER

Emergency Rooms are taking proper COVID-19 precautions. Doctors are seeing more people allowing urgent conditions to escalate.

LAS VEGAS, May 27, 2020 – Don’t let uncertainty stop you from going to the E.R. That’s the message Emergency Department doctors and nurses at Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals want southern Nevada residents to understand. 

Dr. Irena Vitkovitsky, Emergency Department Medical Director for St. Rose Dominican, said, “Our community is still under emergency medical conditions and the fear of transmitting COVID-19 at the hospital is keeping them from coming to the ER in a timely manner. Often times this causes their condition to worsen. We see examples of that almost every day.” 

The number of people visiting Emergency Rooms dropped precipitously during the COVID-19 crisis, as many followed instructions to stay and home and maintain proper social distancing. Calls for medical assistance also declined. Community Ambulance reported a 25 percent drop in paramedic call volume. 

“In addition to caring for people with COVID virus symptoms, our ERs continue to provide the same emergency care as always for many other conditions,” said Dr. Vitkovitsky. 

Under these pandemic conditions, St. Rose Dominican Emergency Departments have established new protocols to protect patients, visitors and medical staff from the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Gigi Pusateri, Director of Emergency Services, St. Rose Siena Hospital, said, “Any patient coming in will be masked on arrival at our Emergency Room with a hospital-provided mask. If they come with a visitor, the visitor will be masked as well, to ensure their safety.”

Examples of heightened safety protocols include:

  • Every patient and visitor entering the Emergency Department is screened by a health professional upon arrival at the hospital. Screening includes a brief list of questions and a temperature check.
  • Every patient and visitor entering the Emergency Department is provided a hospital-grade mask, which they must wear at all times.
  • Proper social distancing is enforced throughout the Emergency Departments, especially in lobby areas.
  • Anyone arriving with COVID-19 symptoms is immediately masked and isolated to a separate area of the Emergency Department for evaluation.
  • Visitor restrictions are in place in the Emergency Department and the entire hospital. People seeking treatment are also able to keep their cell phones through the entire process to stay in contact with their loved ones.

Ms. Pusateri echoes Dr. Vitkovitsky’s concern over people delaying appropriate medical attention. “We’ve had patients who have put off chest pain, come in hours later, if not days later, only to find that they have had a heart attack.” 

Conditions like pneumonia, where people would normally be treated with oral antibiotics and sent home, are being hospitalized and treated with IV antibiotics and more intensive care because those conditions have progressed due to the delay in seeking the proper the medical care needed early on.

“To decrease the risk of further medical injury or medical complications, it is vital that people seek appropriate medical care when they have a medical emergency,” said Ms. Pusateri. 

Dr. Vitkovitsky added, “If you think you have an emergency medical condition, if you have chest pain, if you have weakness, if you have shortness of breath, if you have the worst headache of your life and you think you need to be seen by a doctor – we’re here for you.” 


About Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican:

As the community’s only not-for-profit, faith-based health system, Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican has been guided by the vision and core values of the Adrian Dominican Sisters since 1947. As the Henderson and Las Vegas communities grow, the St. Rose Dominican health system and its nearly 4,000 employees will continue the Sisters’ mission of serving people in need. St. Rose Dominican is a member of the multi-state Dignity Health network of nearly 10,000 physicians, 60,000 employees, 41 acute care hospitals, and 400-plus care centers, including hospitals, urgent and occupational care, imaging centers, and primary care clinics. For more information, visit our website at


Publish date: 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Media Contact

Gordon Absher, External Communications Manager

p: (702) 616-4840

[email protected]