Due to unprecedented patient volumes in its emergency department, PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center is encouraging people with nonemergent health issues to consider alternatives to the emergency department for care.
High patient volumes are resulting in extended wait times for those with less urgent medical needs. If people are not experiencing life-threatening or emergent medical care, they are encouraged to seek care through their established primary care physician or at a same-day or urgent care clinic.
Emergency department volumes are up around the country, according to Dr. Eric Ferraris, a PeaceHealth emergency department physician. Multiple issues are responsible for high patient volumes, including staffing challenges at hospitals and other health facilities where patients leaving the emergency department are placed, including nursing homes and behavioral health facilities, he said.
“If you have a concern about your health and feel like it’s an emergency, don’t wait for that,” Ferraris said. However, he added that things like running out of medication is something more suited for an established primary care doctor.
“Now, if you have chest pain, or you’re short of breath with high blood pressure, please, that would be something we would want to see you for.”