St. Joseph hospital is asking people seeking care for conditions that are not urgent to visit a primary care physician or drop-in clinic before visiting the emergency department.
“The medical center has seen a significant influx of patients to the emergency department with nonurgent conditions causing long wait times,” according to a PeaceHealth news release Tuesday, May 17.
The average number of emergency department patients per day has increased each month since February, according to an email from Beverly Mayhew, PeaceHealth spokesperson. The number is up 7.5% for May over April, with data from just half the month.
And, “the level of acuity of the patients in the ED has risen since January of this year — each month we’ve seen more patients who require a higher level of care,” she said.
“Our caregivers work tirelessly to provide quality care to all patients who come through our doors, but there are times when our emergency department isn’t the best option,” Dr. Sudhakar Karlapudi stated in the news release. He’s the chief medical officer of the PeaceHealth Northwest network.
“Freeing up space and keeping wait times down in the ED lets us do what we do best: quickly and skillfully taking care of acute medical emergencies,” he stated, adding that people should always visit the emergency department for serious and life-threatening medical emergencies.
Serious and life-threatening medical emergencies that require a visit to the emergency department, according to a January PeaceHealth news release, include fractures, serious cuts, severe bleeding, head or eye injuries, sudden blurry vision, dizziness, weakness or loss of coordination or balance, chest pain, difficulty breathing, moderate to severe burns or loss of consciousness.
Non-life-threatening or minor medical issues such as mild burns or cuts, allergies, sprains, urinary tract infections or flu and cold symptoms can be dealt with by primary care providers and urgent care or same-day clinics, according to the hospital.