Friday, May 16, 2008


Medical staff has casino patrons covered from all angles

If pulling a slot machine handle or throwing dice is your sport, rest assured there is an experienced group of medical professionals ready to help if you “go down.”

Thousands of patrons travel long distances to Connecticut’s casinos each year. Many are sleep deprived from their journey. On arriving they subject themselves to the stress of gambling and sometimes the excitement of winning. Some elderly folks may become disoriented while being in unfamiliar surroundings. Fortunately, the medical care at both the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos is outstanding.

Video surveillance at casinos may be rivaled only by Fort Knox. Aside from security, these systems are important in locating an injured or lost patron. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff are stationed in key locations throughout the casinos so that there is no delay in administering first aid to an injured party. If necessary, EMTs and paramedics can initiate treatment protocols and transport to the Backus Hospital emergency department via one of the ambulances which are always onsite.

Over the course of the past fifteen years, Backus Hospital has provided emergency care for both casinos. This experience has resulted in a wealth of information, resulting in more effective care.

Drs. Fred Fenton and Kyle McClain are staff physicians at the Backus Emergency Department. They report that approximately 15 of the 180 daily ED visits are casino patrons. Many of these are related to heart and brain disorders including stroke, heart attack, and seizures. Approximately one quarter are linked to missed doses of medication.

Both physicians advise all travelers to carry a list of medications, medical conditions, and information to contact their physicians. In an emergency, this can be lifesaving.

Some helpful hints to make a casino visit safer:
• Take all prescribed medications on schedule
• Get plenty of rest before your visit
• Moderation is key; don’t try to pack too much activity into one visit
• Always carry a list containing vital health information

If you are not in good health and still want to enjoy a trip to the casino, rest assured there is an excellent medical network covering you at all times.

Anthony G. Alessi, MD, is Chief of Neurology at The William W. Backus Hospital with a private practice at NeuroDiagnostics, LLC in Norwich. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Alessi and all of the Healthy Living columnists at

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