Capital Region hospitals release joint statement on ER wait times
Friday, May 13, 2022
Community Spread of COVID Means Longer Wait Times in Capital Region Emergency Departments
Area health systems remind public of care options for non-emergency cases
ALBANY, N.Y. — Physician leaders at Albany Medical Center, St. Peter’s Health Partners and Ellis Medicine are alerting the public about longer wait times in the region’s Emergency Departments—a direct result of large increases in patient volumes driven by the rising prevalence of COVID-19.
The message from physician leaders: Patients seeking non-emergency care are likely to have shorter waits by contacting their primary care physician or being seen at one of the many urgent care sites operated by Albany Med, St. Peter’s and Ellis.
"With the current positivity rate in the community, emergency departments are experiencing a capacity emergency," said Dr. Steven Hanks, Chief Clinical Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Acting CEO for St. Peter's Health Partners. "Between our current inpatient numbers and the surge in COVID cases, all of our area's emergency departments are reporting longer wait times for patients seeking care. We understand that people are frustrated with the longer wait times and ask for their patience and respect for our health care providers."
The NYS Department of Health announced this week that the Capital Region has the second-highest level of reported COVID-19 infections statewide, and hospitalizations are also continuing to trend upward. They noted the region is seeing 55 people per 100,000 test positive daily for coronavirus on a seven-day average – a number that is likely lower than actual infections, as many people take at-home tests and do not report the results to county health departments.
"Heading into Memorial Day weekend and through the summer months, many of us head outside for exercise and activities, and historically, these lead to busy times in our emergency departments, as well," said Dennis P. McKenna, M.D., President & Chief Executive Officer of the Albany Med Health System and an emergency medicine physician. "We will always be there for you, but please, reserve the ED for the most critical illnesses and injuries. As appropriate, consider visiting urgent care centers, community health centers, or your primary care physician so we can all provide—and receive—the best level of care.”
With COVID cases on the rise, many people are looking for testing and confirmation that they do – or do not – have the COVID virus. The community can help keep critical beds open in local hospitals by not going to the emergency department with mild symptoms of illness or for routine testing for COVID.
If you have serious symptoms like a high fever or trouble breathing, please call 911 or immediately go to the emergency department for care. Otherwise, contact your primary care physician or go to an urgent care for evaluation and treatment.
In addition, health care leaders in the region are reminding the public that emergency departments are designed to first treat and address the most serious and life-threatening cases, followed by less severe and non-emergency cases—leading to longer wait times for routine care.
“Of course, all of our hospitals will treat anyone who walks into our Emergency Department doors,” said Dr. Michael Trevisani, Chief Medical Officer at Ellis Medicine. “For the patient, the ED is not always the ideal site for every health care need. Our physician offices, telehealth services and walk-in urgent care centers are equipped and more than capable of handling a wide range of non-emergency care needs.”
Ellis Medicine | Newsroom
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