With emergency rooms overwhelmed and at critical capacity, the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians and the Massachusetts Emergency Nurses Association are urging people to avoid seeking COVID-19 tests at hospitals.
"The ERs are at a breaking point, and please, if you are just seeking a COVID test please seek a COVID test at a test site," said Dr. Melisa Lai-Becker, who is an ER doctor at CHA Everett Hospital.
Lai-Becker says one day last week, about 40% of patients in the ER were just trying to get a COVID test, and she says that's pulling from critical resources.
"We are seeing volumes that are easily 140%, 150% of our usual volumes, and we're operating with only 70% of staff," she said.
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More on the COVID-19 pandemic
The groups say, in the coming days and weeks, we'll see more nurses, doctors, and staff get COVID, and they'll need to stay home to isolate.
Dr. Daniel Nadworny works in the ER Department at Beth Israel Hospital.
"The bigger concern is when we don't have a bed to offload the next ambulance, and that's what we're seeing in a lot of emergency rooms," Nadworny said.
He also says he's had patients come after leaving other hospitals and waiting about 10 to 12 hours.
Ellen MacInnis is a nurse in the ER at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton.
She says they're working long hours with fewer people.
"We're just exhausted. We're just mentally, physically, emotionally exhausted," she said.
Both groups both say, though, if you are seriously ill, don't ignore your symptoms or avoid the ER when needed.
They're also urging people to get vaccines and booster shots for COVID-19 and to wear a mask, even if vaccinated.