Hospital admissions waxed, waned depending on proximity to eclipse path of totality

Hospitals nationwide saw inpatient admissions fluctuate depending on where they were located in relation to the Aug. 21 solar eclipse's path of totality.

Avnish Deobhakta, MD, an ophthalmologist at New York City-based New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, told USA Today he saw "dozens" of patients at NYEEIMS and his personal clinic.

Dr. Deobhakta said most patients cited headaches and blurry vision, most likely from looking at the phenomena without recommended eyewear. Only a few patients showed signs of retina damage, he said. Others most likely visited him out of caution relating to media attention over possible eye damage, Dr. Deobhakta told the publication.

"I do think there's an element of the power of suggestion," Dr. Deobhakta said. "If you were wearing standard [eclipse] glasses, I don't think you should come in unless you develop persistent symptoms that aren't abating. … [But] we'll never discourage anyone from being cautious."

For some health facilities, however, Monday's solar eclipse proved to be an expensive couple of minutes.

Several hospitals in Oregon, Illinois and South Carolina said they amped up the number of physicians and staff at their respective facilities, canceled elective surgeries and held several weeks of training for clinicians, according to STAT News. Yet, the expected influx of patients never occurred.

"The upshot is we [did] not [see] what we anticipated in terms of healthcare demand," Jeff Absalon, MD, executive vice president and chief physician executive at St. Charles Health System in Bend, Ore., told STAT. "We tracked this in other circumstances where the influx of people equaled increased demand for services. We just [didn't experience] that."

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