* Last year D.C. General Hospital treated 5,038 more people in its emergency room and outpatient clinics than in 1981. Prince George's General showed a similar increase, as did other welfare hospitals. "We're seeing people from the Washington Hospital Center whose health insurance ran out," said Dr. Harold Thomas, an administrator at St. Elizabeths, the federally operated mental hospital in the District. "They really want to be out of sight. They never thought they'd be coming to St. Elizabeths."

* At the Alexandria Health Department, there is a three- to four-month wait for an appointment, triple that of last year, because many city residents, especially those seeking pre- and postnatal care find they no longer can afford private doctors. "People are a lot angrier when they can't have service," said Dr. Anne Albertson, the department's director. "There are more confrontations in the clinics."

* When the Drug Enforcement Agency ran a newspaper ad a few weeks ago for a $14,901-a-year secretary's job, it received 61 applications by early afternoon. "We spent three days answering the phone," said Doris Johnson, a personnel staffing specialist. At Fairchild Industries, an ad for a $35,000 materials control manager brought more than 200 job-seekers. "You're in awe when you see the quality of the resume's," said Larry Edwards, senior personnel administrator. "You're amazed that these people need work." An ad for waiters at Ridgewell Caterers brought such talent as "an obstetrician, lawyers, real estate agents, PhD's," according to co-owner Bruce Ellis.

* Maryland hospitals had to absorb a record $103 million in charity cases in the year ending last June, a 24 percent increase from the previous year. The new debts are eroding the pioneer efforts of Maryland state government to hold down health costs, as more hospitals seek rate increases to cover the losses.

* At the Safeway on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, the day-old baked goods and dented canned foods are barely on the shelf before they disappear. "We mark down bread in the morning, and an hour later it's gone," said Bob Mattingly, the assistant manager. "It's not like before, when you'd have to take it off the floor unsold at 3 o'clock." Meanwhile, the A&P in the affluent Spring Valley section of Washington increased the amount of chicken it sells and is using smaller packages for the more costly pork and beef. "We used to have sales every other week," said meat wrapper Betty Johnson. "Now it's every week. Beef bones are selling out real quick, too."

* The demand for food at area soup kitchens is so great that in October Giant Food supplemented its canned-food donations to include dairy, bakery and produce items. Thirty-two of the chain's 132 stores allow charitable groups to pick up salvage food items several times a week.

* Houlihan's Old Place, a moderately priced restaurant in Chevy Chase, regularly receives three or four calls a day from prospective diners asking the price of specific menu items. "They ask how much our quiche is, and how much more if you buy a salad," said manager John Richmond. "Usually people aren't so particular that they'll call around, asking prices, but these are frugal times."

* Some 10,852 animals were taken to the Baltimore animal shelter last year, and one-third of the people who took the animals in said they could no longer afford food for their pets. In the District, the problem is particularly acute for the elderly, according to Ingrid Newkirk, acting chief of animal disease control. "Old people," she said, "have old pets, and there's absolutely no hope for adoption." Rather than extend false hope, the shelter now invites elderly people bringing in pets to walk into a back room and be with their pets as the animals are killed.

* Jobless workers in Maryland are trapping animals for cash and food, according to Jack Ray Stieff of Annapolis, one of the state's largest fur buyers. "The reason now is the economy," said Stieff, who is selling supplies to many first-time trappers. "I've had some retired gentlemen, too, men who haven't trapped in 25 years, who need some income."

* At Bond Clothes in Prince George's Plaza, as at many stores in the area, the anniversary sales have merged into clearance sales and into nearly 52 straight weeks of specials. "In a poor economy, to satisfy the customer, you must have a sale," said Sam Ettlin, the manager. "We just run from one promotion to another."