Alexandria, VA

Inova Alexandria Hospital is seeing about half of its usual flow of emergency room patients, and hospital President Dr. Rina Bansal says patients are staying away due to fears of being infected with coronavirus.

“We’ve seen a significant decline in number of patients coming in for heart attacks, we’ve seen a significant decline in number of patients coming in for strokes, and these are not disease processes that have magically just vanished because we have COVID,” Bansal said in a teleconference hosted by ACT for Alexandria. “I think it’s because people are actually suffering at home.”

Bansal said that overall emergency room volumes have decreased by about 50% and that there are now about 40 patients per day who are being treated at the hospital, versus 90 patients a day during March and April.

“I think people are afraid to come to a hospital because they have this vision of people here who have COVID and that they’re going to get ill,” she said. “On a normal day we will see about 200 patients in our emergency rooms. We’re (now) seeing somewhere down to 90 to 100.”

May was also National Stroke Month, and last week Inova Alexandria Hospital put out a series of social media messages reminding people the symptoms of a stroke. The hospital has also continued elective surgeries, although visitation is still limited.

“We are making sure that we keep anyone who’s coming into our hospital safe with or without COVID,” Bansal said, adding that the hospital has seen a 40% reduction in revenue. “Some of the numbers are just astounding. It’s even hard to process how much money you can lose on a daily basis in a hospital setting while providing care during a crisis. It almost doesn’t make sense, but that is the reality. We did open up our operating rooms a couple of weeks ago so we are starting to see some patients come back.”

In honor of National Stroke Month, we are sharing information every day this week from our Inova Neuroscience and Spine…

Posted by Inova Alexandria Hospital on Thursday, May 28, 2020

Meanwhile, Alexandria hit a grim milestone today with the announcement that there have been 2,000 total cases of COVID-19 since the first case was announced on March 11. There are 45 reported fatalities due to the virus in the city.

Neighborhood Health Executive Director Dr. Basim Khan joined Bansal, and said that the assumption that the virus is gone is false. The nonprofit has provided about 2,000 tests, and about half came back positive. Additionally, about 90% of those who tested positive are low income Hispanic city residents, a demographic which leads the city with six deaths, 992 cases and 86 total hospitalizations.

“There’s the assumption that the first wave is finished, but the reality is it’s still here, it’s still going strong,” Khan said. there are still a lot of infections, people are still getting impacted, but at the same time I do understand that we do need to reopen (the local economy) to some degree.”

Bansal said she’s worried that Alexandria is opening back up, and cautioned residents to be mindful of social distancing, wash hands and wear face masks in public.

ACT Now Tuesday Talks – Health

#HappeningNow: We’re discussing health with Dr. Rina Bansal of Inova Alexandria Hospital and Dr. Basim Khan of Neighborhood Healh in the third of five ACT Now Tuesday Talks!At 12:00 p.m. ET on June 2, June 16 and June 30, we’re talking to beneficiaries of the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund and partners addressing pressing issues in our community.

Posted by ACT for Alexandria on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Staff photo by James Cullum

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