JoCo ERs prep for rise in summer outdoor injuries, a typical pre-COVID trend

In pre-pandemic years, local ERs typically saw a spike in summer from outdoor or activity-related injuries. Doctors recommend you take precautions, like wearing a helmet when cycling, in order to stay out of a local emergency room. File photo.

While local ERs and ICUs are recording a drastic drop in COVID-19 cases, local health care professionals say Johnson County could expect to see an increase in another type of, shall we say, more typical emergency room visit this summer. 

As the weather gets warmer, some residents might be more inclined to exercise or do housework outside. 

As a result, hospital emergency departments tend to see more injury-related visits in the spring and summer months — especially around summer holidays like the Fourth of July

With COVID less of a concern, some local doctors are anticipating a return to a more normal ER summer.

What the trends are: Dr. Chris Bowser, medical director of the Emergency Department at Saint Luke’s South Hospital in Overland Park, said the hospital generally sees an increase in exercise and activity-related injury visits in the warmer summer months. 

Injury-related visits haven’t been high in volume yet this year at Saint Luke’s South, nor have they gone up at other area hospitals, according to both AdventHealth Shawnee Mission and University of Kansas Health System.

But Bowser said the summer months typically bring in more injuries from car accidents and outdoor activities, like bicycling and skateboarding. 

“I can’t say that this year is necessarily any different than that,” he said. “We still have not quite returned to our pre-pandemic typical volumes. We’ve had maybe a little uptick in the last few weeks or month.”

One hospital does see spike: This trend started slightly early at HCA Midwest Health’s hospitals, two of which include the Overland Park Regional Medical Center and Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park.

Christine Hamele, Assistant Vice President of Public Relations and Community Affairs, said HCA Midwest’s hospitals saw an increase in emergency department visits as COVID cases in the ICU went down this spring. 

Hamele said this includes everything from exercise sprains and strains to people falling from roofs and ladders. 

What you can do: To avoid visits to the emergency room for injuries this summer, residents are encouraged to take safety precautions like

  • wearing a seatbelt when driving,
  • wearing a bicycle helmet
  • and considering calling professionals for home improvements that require getting on ladders.

On top of that, Bowser said it’s important for residents to go to their in-person routine doctor’s appointments, which many patients stopped coming in for during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Key quote: “If you haven’t been to see a primary care doctor in a while and you haven’t had routine screenings for cancers or cardiovascular illness, now’s a really good time to get back to doing that,” Bowser said. “I would say that it’s something that we’ve seen in the last couple of years: fallout from folks putting off routine preventive care visits. That has, at times, landed patients in the emergency department.”