San Antonio ER doctor worries stroke patients aren’t getting treatment because of COVID-19

Alyssa Medina, Steve Spriester

SAN ANTONIO – Emergency Room Doctor Robert A. Frolichstein has seen an encouraging change at his hospital. He says he’s seen more discharges than new COVID-19 cases in the last week.

Within the entire Methodist Healthcare System he says there are about 15 cases of COVID-19. Those patients are being treated by separate care teams in different areas of the hospitals. With the reopening of some local businesses, Dr. Frolichstein believes the hospital system is prepared for a higher volume of patients.

“The whole reason behind closing things down was to prevent a huge surge that would overwhelm our capacity to care for patients with COVID and other illnesses. And I think we are prepared now. And I don’t think we’re going to see that surge that we are unable to care for people,” he explained.

Dr. Frolichstein still worries people are not seeking medical attention out of fear of coronavirus exposure and says he has seen fewer patients come into the hospital for emergencies.

For example, Methodist hospital is a comprehensive stroke center. According to Frolichstein, they have all of the latest treatments for strokes including a time-sensitive medication. “We normally use that medicine between 10 or 15 times in a month. In all of April, we only used it 5 times,” said Frolichstein.

Doctor Frolichstein doesn’t see this as a drop in the number of strokes, but says it’s more likely that people are waiting longer to seek treatment for strokes. He wants people to be reassured that emergency rooms and hospitals are safe to treat patients with needs other than COVID-19. He said there are extra safety precautions in place to keep everyone visiting the hospital safe.

Are face coverings mandatory when coming into the emergency room?

Dr. Frolichstein said all patients must wear a mask. Staff members also wear masks at all times and are screened for fever before entering the building.

Have hospital visitation policies loosened since the start of the pandemic?

Doctor Froclichstein says elective surgery patients are now allowed one visitor. Officials are also looking at plans that allow for at least one visitor per patient. “It’s got to be carefully coordinated. We’ve got to make sure that those visitors are safe and that our staffs are safe. But I think that’s coming soon.”

Watch the full interview with Dr. Frolichstein above.

Find more answers and ask your own questions on our SAQ page. Watch anchor Steve Spriester ask local leaders your questions weeknights at 6 p.m. on KSAT12 and 9 p.m. on KSAT-TV and You can also sign up for our free SAQ newsletter to get answers to the most common questions in your inbox.

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About the Author: Alyssa Medina, Steve Spriester

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