NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Hospitals in our area are no longer in crisis mode because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But not everything is back to normal.

Doctors say many patients are afraid to go back into an emergency room.

As COVID-19 cases have thankfully gone down significantly in the Tri-State Area over the past month, hospitals have begun to return to more or less normal operations. Elective surgeries are being done, outpatient visits are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, but there’s one area of the hospital that the major hospital systems in the area have told CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez has not recovered: The emergency room.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

We’ve all seen video of emergency rooms overrun with COVID-19 patients, hospitals triaging people in the parking lot, and patients waiting in halls for beds. So it’s understandable that people are reluctant to go to the emergency room.

“Our patients in our community are very afraid. They want to know, are they safe? Is it safe to come into the emergency room?” said Dr. Catherine Jamin.

Dr. Jamin is the vice chair of the department at NYU Langone and physicians from other hospitals described the intense cleaning that goes on in the ER on a continual basis. Just as important, COVID-19 patients are seen and treated in separate areas of the ER, and all visitors are screened for coronavirus symptoms.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The critical issue, though, is that if a person needs medical care but stays away for fear of the ER, those patients become sicker than they should.

“In many medical conditions, time is of the essence to help fix things before they get worse, so our biggest concern is for people to not delay care so we can intervene early and get people back up on their feet sooner,” Dr. Jamin said.

PHOTOSNew York City Enters Phase 2 Reopening

Dr. Jamin also said that they are constantly learning and adjusting their protocols to maintain the highest level of safety in the ER.

Remember: Care delayed is care denied.

For the top questions people have been asking about the coronavirus, visit cbsnewyork.com/max, and go to facebook.com/cbsnewyork to submit your question.

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