Local hospitals say less people seeking help for medical emergencies due to coronavirus fears

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MUNSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW) — Local hospitals report fewer people are seeking help for medical emergencies due to fears of contracting the coronavirus.

64-year-old Andrew Gruber is active as a high school sports referee and regularly logs 20,000 steps a day. So what he felt one morning last month while watching television came as a shock.

“All of a sudden I had a little chest pain,” Gruber said. “I got nervous right away because it was getting even more painful as we went on, so I hurried up and called 911.”

Munson Fire Department paramedics responded to Gruber’s home within minutes and started treating his heart attack.

“In cardiac events, time is of the essence,” said Munson Fire Chief Michael Vatty. “Time is muscle they call it.”

*Read more stories on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic here in Ohio.*

Medics rushed him to University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center, where doctors were ready to quickly clear a blockage in his heart.

“The best outcomes are when you open the artery immediately, because patents are at risk for death,” said UH cardiologist Dr. Greg Stefano, who treated Gruber.

That’s why Stefano said it’s so dangerous that fewer people facing similar emergencies are making a life-saving call to 911 amid the pandemic.

“There’s a 40 percent reduction in heart attacks since the COVID crisis started, and it’s not because COVID cures heart attacks. It’s because people are having heart attacks and not being seen,” he said. “EMS saved Andy’s life.”

With an excellent prognosis and now on the rebound, Andrew is thanking the first responders who saved his life during this National EMS Week.

“I don’t think there’s anybody better,” Gruber said.

He and first responders are encouraging other to seek needed emergency help.

“People are still having medical emergencies, they need to be transported, they need to go to the ER,” Vatty said.

Local hospitals reiterate that they are safe, and patients should not be afraid to seek care, with many precautions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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