BELLINGHAM, WA – With local and regional emergency department capacity stretched by extremely high patient volumes, PeaceHealth is asking people with non-emergency healthcare needs to seek care at primary care, same-day and urgent care clinics.
Reducing the volume of patients visiting the ER allows our doctors and nurses to take care of patients with acute medical issues as quickly as possible, 24/7.
People should visit the emergency department for serious and life-threatening medical emergencies. Some representative examples are fractures, serious lacerations, severe bleeding, head or eye injuries, sudden blurry vision, dizziness, weakness or loss of coordination or balance, chest pain, difficulty breathing, moderate to severe burns or loss of consciousness.
However, many non-life-threatening or minor medical issues—such as mild burns or cuts, allergies, sprains, urinary tract infections or flu and cold symptoms—can be taken care of by visiting your primary care provider, an urgent care clinic or a same-day clinic.
If you are questioning what type of care to seek, try first consulting with your primary care provider.
PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center’s Emergency Department has seen record-breaking patient volumes in recent months, due in part to COVID-19 cases but also because so many people delayed needed care early in the pandemic. Injuries related to the recent snow and ice, as well as a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases across the region due to the new omicron variant, have contributed to an uptick in the new year.
PeaceHealth also urges anyone who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, including the booster shot, and to continue safe practices to prevent the spread of infection. Those include masking indoors and in crowds outdoors, maintaining physical distance from others and washing your hands frequently.