When you need to visit your local emergency department, the last thing that you want is to be surprised by a long wait time.
Since 2010, Middlesex Hospital has taken the element of surprise out of the equation by publicizing its Emergency Department wait times online at www.middlesexERtime.com. The Hospital has three Emergency Departments, and it offers three clocks that reflect how long the wait times are for the patients who have been waiting to be seen the longest at each location.
Middlesex Hospital Emergency Departments are located at the main Hospital campus in Middletown, Marlborough Medical Center and Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook. By offering wait time clocks, the Hospital helps patients get emergency care quickly by giving them options.
“Through use of the wait time clock, patients can opt to go to the Middlesex Emergency Department of their choice – often with only a slightly longer drive and usually with a much shorter wait time to get care,” says Dr. Jonathan Bankoff, the Hospital’s chair of Emergency Medicine.
The clocks, which are accurate and update automatically every five minutes, help Emergency Department staff manage patient flow. They keep the locations from becoming too busy and keep wait times to a minimum.
All three Middlesex Emergency Departments provide the same high quality care and are staffed by board certified emergency medicine providers. While their wait times may be different, there is no difference in the treatment provided at each location, the process used, or the capability of the providers.
How can you make your visit to the Emergency Department easier?
You do not have to complete any paperwork to be seen in a Middlesex Hospital Emergency Department. However, it is very helpful if you bring your photo identification, insurance information and a list of your medications with you to your visit, along with contact information for your primary care doctor and emergency contact.
Visiting an Emergency Department can be stressful and produce anxiety. Whenever possible, Dr. Bankoff recommends taking a friend or family member with you.
Should you call an ambulance?
Deciding whether to call an ambulance is a personal decision, and Dr. Bankoff says every case is unique. If you feel unsafe driving yourself to the Emergency Department, or if you are a family member who is concerned about a loved one, call 9-1-1. If you aren’t sure, don’t take the chance!
What else should you know?
It is hard to predict when an Emergency Department will receive a surge of patients. Certain times of the day or certain days of the week, however, are historically busier than others. For example, Monday is usually the busiest day of the week in all three Middlesex Emergency Departments. The least busy time is often late at night during the week or first thing in the morning on a weekend, according to Dr. Bankoff.
One more thing: Emergency Departments are not urgent care or walk-in centers. They provide a different level of service, which makes them more expensive. Always make sure you get the care that you need, but choose wisely!
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