Long Waits in Emergency Departments

The hospital Emergency Department is ideally designed to treat urgent healthcare needs, but in many cases it is the choice for care of non-urgent conditions. This results in crowded Emergency Department waiting rooms and extended waits for service. Many times, the answer to overcrowded Emergency Departments is for non-urgent patients to be treated by primary care providers who may offer extended and weekend hours.

Treatment for minor falls, cuts, headaches, blood pressure checks, glucose level checks and other low acuity conditions can be handled by primary care physicians or nurse practitioners, at a lower cost and shorter wait time than the typical Emergency Department.

Clinics Offering Extended and/or Weekend Hours:

(Click the Clinic Name for more information and hours)

Northwest Family Care Clinic
Northwest Primary Care Clinic
Sulligent Medical Clinic

Northwest Emergency Department

Northwest Medical Center provides around-the-clock emergency care, seven days a week. Our Emergency Department is specially equipped to treat patients with acute and life-threatening traumatic injuries. There are one or more E.D. physicians in the department 24 hours a day. Our emergency department receives walk-in patients as well as ambulance transports.

Patients entering our emergency department are provided triage care upon arrival and are assigned an appropriate level of care.

Level 1 – Highest level of severity. This category specifies individuals requiring immediate life-saving interventions from the medical staff. Individuals who present with complaints such as multi-level trauma, CPR in progress, acute respiratory failure and other similar events would fit into this category.

Level II – is assigned to patients who present with high risk situations, are confused/lethargic or disoriented, in severe pain or distress. Examples include chest pain, soft tissue injury, and deformity of extremities, severe lacerations, suicidal or acute psychosis.

Level III – Assigned to patients with stable medical conditions, minor lacerations, abdominal pain, minor burns or potential closed fractures.

Level IV – Patients who require only one resource from the facility. This includes patients with cough, cold symptoms, minor soft tissue or musculoskeletal injuries or complaints.

Level V – are patients who require no resources to complete their care. Examples include prescription refills and possibly complain of rash/skin irritation.

Emergency Care FAQ's

When should I call 911?

What is trauma?

When should I go to a clinic?

What is triage?

What happens after checking in?​

Can patients eat or drink anything while waiting to be seen?

Why is there a wait to be seen?

What happens after being taken to a room?

Are visitors allowed in the emergency room?

Are children allowed in the emergency department?

Where can patients or visitors provide feedback?

What about follow-up care?

When should I call 911?

If you or a loved one has a life- or limb-threatening condition or symptoms consistent with stroke or heart attack, call 911 immediately. If you are unsure of the level of care needed and it is during regular office hours, call your primary care physician or go to the nearest Urgent Care center.

What is trauma?

Trauma is a life- or limb-threatening physical injury caused by an external force such as a motor vehicle crash, violence or a fall. Trauma patients who receive appropriate care within 60 minutes after injury–the Golden Hour–chances of survival increase considerably.

When should I go to a clinic?

Many people come to the emergency room when a clinic might have been the better, and quicker, choice.

A clinic is recommended for conditions and symptoms such as:

  • First or second-degree burns
  • Colds, cough or flu
  • Eye, ear or skin infections
  • Fractures
  • Minor cuts, bruises and abrasions
  • Respiratory infections
  • Strains or sprains
  • Urinary tract infections

Clinics, such as our Family Care Clinic, are a good choice when you need to see a physician after hours or without an appointment.

What is triage?

Triage is the process of sorting and prioritizing patients based on their medical needs. When you come to the emergency room, a staff member will ask questions about the patient’s illness, injury or medical history and will perform a brief exam to determine the severity of the condition. The physician will see patients with the most critical conditions first.

What happens after check in?

The admitting staff will ask for additional information to complete a patient record. The triage nurse may begin treatment and provide comfort by offering bandages, ice or certain medications. Certain diagnostic tests may also be ordered at this time.

Can patients eat or drink anything while waiting to be seen?

Patients should not eat or drink anything until a physician or nurse has given approval.

Why is there a wait to be seen?

Our Emergency Care Center sees many patients each day. The number of patients coming to the Emergency Department at any given time can be high and the severity of their conditions can vary greatly. Patients are triaged to ensure the most serious medical conditions are treated first. Unfortunately, patients with less serious needs may have to wait while those patients receive care. Our Emergency Department staff works hard to ensure all patients are seen in a timely manner and to keep wait times to a minimum.

What happens after being taken to a room?

A nurse examines the patient fully and completes a medical history. After the physician examines the patient, additional tests or treatments may be ordered. Based on test results and the patient’s current condition, the​ physician will make a decision to either let the patient go home or to admit the patient to the hospital.

Are visitors allowed in the emergency room?

Visitors are welcome at the hospital depending on the patient’s condition. 

Are children allowed in the emergency department?

Yes, if they are supervised by an adult who can care for them. Children should not be left unattended.

Where can patients or visitors provide feedback?

Our goal is to provide the absolute best medical care, with the utmost compassion. Let a member of our staff know of any concerns. In addition, we have engaged a third-party company to randomly survey our patients to continually improve the care we provide.

What about follow-up care?

Examination and treatment in the emergency department is not a substitute for ongoing medical care. Patients will receive instructions for follow-up care when they are discharged. It is essential to follow these instructions. Please let the nurse know if the patient does not have a personal physician.