(FOX 2) - The number of people found dead in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically increased.
Doctors are reaching out and want everyone to know it's safe to seek emergency care right now in southeast Michigan if you need it.
"That's what's scary for us at healthcare providers," says Dr. Charlie Keermaekers, an emergency room doctor with Beaumont Grosse Pointe. "We're seeing a dramatic increase in Priority 4 EMS calls, which are calls for people found dead in their homes."
He says the increase for some EMS companies is 400 percent.
He says he sees patients every day who have waited too long to seek care.
"I'll see a patient who comes in with abdominal pain and I'll ask them how long they've had it and their answer will be, 'About 10 days now.' And I'll ask them, 'Why did you wait?' And there's two answers to that question. One is, I was afraid to come in, and two is, I know you guys are dealing with so many serious things I didn't think my problem was serious enough to come in with. And, inevitably, then they have a more difficult, prolonged course."
Hospitals say they have created safe, coronavirus-free spaces and they warn patients not to ignore critical symptoms.
"For example, ruptured appendicitis has seen a four-fold increase because patients who otherwise seek care and have a simple case of appendicitis, now come in gravely ill with a ruptured appendicitis."
Emergency room doctors are seeing fewer non-COVID-19 patients, and EMS workers are seeing more patients when it's too late. Dr. Keermaeker says with all diseases, early detection is critical in the care and these other medical challenges haven't gone away with the onset of this pandemic.
Mayor Duggan agrees and urged all Detroiters earlier this week at a press conference to stay up on treatments for any chronic illnesses they may have.