Right Place, Right Care
With hospital emergency departments in Rhode Island experiencing significant crowding and prolonged waiting times, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding people to seek medical care in settings where they will be most appropriately treated. If you do not need emergency care, you should not go to emergency departments. Many health issues can be treated more quickly and effectively by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility.
When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention
- If you are going to an emergency department for COVID-19-like illness, notify the facility that you (or the person you are accompanying) is seeking care for COVID-19. Masks are required in all healthcare facilities. People should not go to the emergency department for COVID-19 testing or COVID-19-like illness that does not require emergency care. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and are able to recover at home.
- If you or someone else is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately by calling 911 or going to an emergency department:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent chest pain or chest pressure
- New weakness in an arm, leg, or face
- New difficulty speaking or confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
- If you are not sure if you should go to the emergency department, you should contact your primary care provider or visit an urgent care or community health center.
- A primary care provider can give you guidance about the next best step, and most offices have a provider on-call after hours.
- If you do not have a primary care provider, visit health.ri.gov/find/urgentcare.
Help Prevent Hospitalization
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Talk to a healthcare provider about treatment for COVID-19, if you test positive.
- Get a flu shot when it is available.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and always before eating or preparing food.
- Stay home if you are sick and keep children home from school if they are sick.
- After an episode of illness that involves vomiting or diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner.