Trinity Health exec: Increase in at-home deaths begs question about potential public health crisis

Americans across the country have been encouraged by states and hospitals to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic to help protect healthcare workers and slow the spread of the illness.

In a Hartford Business Journal article, Reginald Eadie, MD, CEO of Trinity Health of New England, examined how these stay-at-home messages have affected hospitalizations for life-threatening illnesses — including heart attack, heart failure, stroke, appendicitis and gallbladder disease — as well as at-home deaths.

He said he found data showing emergency department visits in Connecticut at one point were down by 43 percent, and that at one Connecticut hospital, discharges from March 15 to April 15 for those life-threatening illnesses showed a decrease ranging from 43 percent to 72 percent compared to the same period a year prior.

Dr. Eadie also spoke with funeral homes to get a sense of whether there has been an increase in at-home deaths amid messages to stay home. Howard Hill, the owner of Howard K. Hill Funeral Services in Hartford, Bloomfield and New Haven, Conn., reported a 166 percent increase in at-home deaths from March 15 to April 15, compared to the year prior. Clora Funeral Home in Michigan reported that at-home removals increased 150 percent during the same period.

"These increases in at-home deaths are stunning, and in my opinion, clearly show that community members listened to the stay at home messages they heard," Dr. Eadie wrote.

"I also think it leads us, as a nation, to ask the most important question: Do the significant decreases in hospitalizations for these five serious illnesses and the increase in at-home deaths suggest another public health crisis is on the way?"

Dr. Eadie's comments come as hospitals in California and Washington state have launched campaigns to encourage people not to delay healthcare when they need it during the pandemic.

Trinity Health of New England is a nonprofit clinically integrated network of hospitals in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Read the full Hartford Business Journal article here.





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