Emergency room doctors around the country are gearing up for a surge in patients Monday in states like South Carolina that are in the path of the solar eclipse.
“I suspect there will be an increase in patient traffic to ERs, especially in areas expecting a large influx of eclipse-watchers, such as Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina and Missouri,” said Dr. Becky Parker, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
“When a population surges, even temporarily, ER visits tend to rise,” she said. “Anything out of the ordinary that shakes up a regular routine, like this eclipse, or daylight savings, can lead to more vehicle accidents.”
In addition to accidents, there could be an increase in heat exposure as well as eye injuries from looking at the sun, according ACEP.
Greenville Health System is checking its ER staffing levels and its command center will be manned to monitor the patient census and any issues that could arise, spokesman Dudley Brown said.
“The Upstate’s extra visitors could impact phone lines and Internet service,” he said. “We will monitor those communication tools and schedule briefings throughout the day to make sure GHS providers and departments are aware of any issues taking place that could impact communication or the larger population visiting the Upstate.”
Bon Secours St. Francis Health System is also making preparations.
“We are participating in the health system preparations for the eclipse,” said Greta Gue, administrative director of emergency services. “With the influx of people coming into Greenville, we do expect to have a higher volume and some incidents.”
Rural ER physicians, especially those in the direct path of the eclipse, expect to see an increase in people seeking care, putting pressure on providers, ACEP reports.
“Like many experts have said, emergency physicians remind the public that it’s extremely important to protect your eyes during this eclipse,” Parker said.
“If you choose to look at it, you must use proper eye protection for safe viewing from a reputable manufacturer," she added. "Staring at the sun – even for a second – can cause severe, permanent loss of vision. Remember, regular sunglasses do not offer enough protection.”