Summer of excess?
This summer is expected to be a big one, as people and businesses shed their pandemic restrictions.
CNBC, the Washington Post, NPR and the New York Times have run stories about young adults anticipating a “hot vax summer” – a return to bars, concerts and parties, mask-less in-person dating and hookups – a chance for the fully vaccinated to make up for a year lost to COVID.
The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce predicts a banner tourist season, and the Cape and Islands Association of Realtors says most vacation rentals are booked till fall.
What does this all mean to emergency rooms of Cape Cod Healthcare’s hospitals?
“This summer will definitely be different than last summer,” said Matthew P. Adamo, DO, a physician at Falmouth Hospital’s Emergency Department. “Things are starting to pick up again.”
Summertime typically means more emergency department visits, and those include injuries from accidents (on both land and sea), too much booze or drugs, dehydration, cases of sexually-transmitted diseases and complaints of chest or abdominal pain.
“Alcohol is a pretty big component in the summertime,” Dr. Adamo said. “We’re expecting all of the above in the summer,” which he called “trauma season.”
Though more people may come to the Cape this summer, Dr. Adamo said he doesn’t think most plan to indulge in an orgy of hedonism. He pointed to the relatively high COVID vaccination rates among Cape Codders and said Massachusetts residents have been good about following safety precautions during the pandemic.
“We still need to be safe,” Dr. Adamo said, advising people to mask up at large gatherings to reduce the chances of transmitting the novel coronavirus. “If you’re not vaccinated, it’s the way to go.”
Both men and women should use some form of protection from disease when contemplating having sex with someone they recently met, he said. If you do think you picked up an STD, go to one of Cape Cod Healthcare’s Urgent Care Centers in Falmouth, Sandwich, Hyannis, Osterville or Harwich, or the Falmouth Hospital or Cape Cod Hospital ER.
Dr. Adamo said he understands the pent-up desire to have fun with others after the past year – he urged people to just use a little caution and common sense.
“I definitely think we have a cause to celebrate,” he said. “We’ve all been through a lot.”
“When you want to enjoy yourself, do it safely.”
The opportunity to get out and socialize may help ease some of the mental strain many experienced as they weathered the pandemic in isolation. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) article published in February, the number of adults who said they had symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders rose from 10 percent in the first of half of 2019 to 40 percent in January of this year. Replies to a KFF poll done last July collected increased reports of alcohol and substance abuse, sleeping and eating difficulties and stress aggravating chronic conditions.
“We have seen a lot of psych-related concerns in the people coming in. COVID definitely placed a lot of stress on people,” Dr. Adamo said, adding that nationwide more help is needed with mental health issues caused or worsened by the pandemic.
“I hope it (summer) is a turning point for everybody,” he said.
At Falmouth Hospital, staffing has been increased to meet the summer wave of visitors. He estimated 10-15 traveling nurses and some physicians have been added to the emergency department.
“We’re ready to tackle whatever comes our way this summer,” Dr. Adamo said.