Sixty years ago there was no ambulance. There was no billboard along the freeway advertising a less than five minute wait. There wasn’t a waiting room, and there also was no doctor to see you. Not now or in a few hours. Emergency rooms did not really exist in hospitals. Back doors, maintenance hallways, and basements became MASH units that newly graduated medical students saw all-comers with no other place to turn to.
This haphazard beginning morphed an organized chaos that is currently referred to as the emergency department. In one of these locations over 300,000 Americans take their health concerns every single day.
Since then EMS have covered every corner of the country, urgent care centers and freestanding Emergency Rooms have popped up next to your corner grocery store. More and more people use the ER as their sick visits and their primary care doctor for their medication refills.
As visits increase so do lines and wait times. Why it is worth the wait.
- No appointment needed. You can come the second a problem occurs or is recognized. No calling ahead, no setting appointments, no “we will see you next week.”
- No one is turned away. Insurance, employment, payment. None of these questions are asked when you show up at the triage desk. The only requirement is a health problem.
- 24/7. While urgent care centers and doctors offices close their doors doctors and nurses in the ER work through the night.
- Triage. You may see someone check in after you, and be taken to a room minutes 2 hours before your name is called. This is based on the complaint and the vital signs when they first arrived. Adding chest pain to your particular symptoms may not bring you back sooner.
- Your wait might seem long, now there is a reason. Most likely someone else is having a much worse day. Nearby someone could be suffering a stroke, heart attack, or life threatening infection. All three of these may have arrived within minutes of your arrival. Someday that will be you, your child, or your parent and the doctors and nurses will be politely telling others the doctor will come as soon as he/she can.