By Brooke Shafer

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMIAMI) – While people staying at home to flatten the coronavirus curve may be working, data shows people who are sick from other medical conditions and staying at home instead of seeking medical care at a hospital is leading to fatal results.

According to Broward Health and Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, there is a growing trend of patients choosing self-care at home rather than seeking medical attention due to fears of COVID-19 and it is costing people their lives.

According to first responder data, people are calling 911 but refuse to go to the hospital, or they wait to call 911 during a medical emergency, such as a stroke or heart attack. By the time rescuers arrive, it’s too late.

“It became evident that people weren’t calling 911 when they needed to and this was having a fatal effect on our community,” said Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan with Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue.

Data from Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue shows a significant drop in hospital transports over the last few months compared to the same time period last year.

For example, in March of 2019, there were 2,116 transports and 486 refusals. However, in March of 2020, there were 1,985 transports with 465 refusals. That’s a refusal rate of 19%. In April, it’s worse. The refusal rate jumps to 22% and reached 21% in the first ten days of May 2020.

Data from Broward Health also shows ER visits have dropped by 50% and the number of heart attack and stroke patients treated within the Broward Health system dropped significantly starting in March and continue to fall.

“They unfortunately die at home waiting for the care that we stand ready to provide them,” said Broward Health Medical Center Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joshua Lenchus.

Broward Health officials want the public to know that hospitals are clean, safe and taking extra precautions. In addition, levels of coronavirus patients have dropped significantly, and hospitals contain those patients in one section of the hospital.

Bottom line, if you are sick at home and need emergency medical care during this pandemic, you are urged to call 911 or go to a hospital to receive medical attention.

“Patients that are at home that are suffering are depriving us of the ability to actually help them,” said Dr. Lenchus.