NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The volume has been high and the patients have been really sick. That is how Riverside Health emergency room Physician Elena Garrett summarizes the year in emergency medicine.

A growing number of people have been visiting the emergency room as a result of traumatic injuries. Early Friday, 3 people died and more than 20 others were injured when a tractor-trailer crashed into a party bus just North of Riverside Regional Medical Center.

“Our trauma numbers have climbed throughout the year higher this year than they were last year but it’s a steady increase which is unfortunate for the community,” said Dr. Garrett.

( Photo courtesy: Riverside Health)

With the rise in trauma numbers, Doctors are asking patients to use judgment before they visit emergency rooms.

“The emergency department is still where we want people to come if there are injured, they have significant burns if they have significant broken bones or bleeding that won’t stop,” Dr. Garret explained. “We also want everybody to remember for any stroke symptoms, any weakness or numbness on the body or face, changes with their speech, balance, or sudden loss of their vision[to seek emergency care].”

Dr. Garret continued by saying, “If they develop shortness of breath or pain in their chest if they get winded they need to come to the emergency department to be seen.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, factors that contribute to so-called preventable emergency room visits include Income, education, employment, health insurance coverage, and access to transportation and the internet.

“We are always a point of access for people who don’t know where to seek care and we’re happy to be available for that,” said Dr. Garrett.

Regardless of your ability to pay, doctors say prevention is still the best medicine.

“Wash your hands cover your cough and you sneeze. If you’re not feeling well stay home. People should consider vaccination for influenza and coronavirus, especially people who are older or have multiple medical conditions,” Dr. Garrett said.

If you’re experiencing mild symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, or runny nose, an urgent care or a PCP can see you and provide testing and even x-rays. Minor cuts and simple sprains/ strains can also be seen in urgent care