Riverbend officials say surge in patients led to 13 hour wait time at ER

Blake estimates about 25 percent of people in the ER are not connected to primary care providers.

Posted: Mar. 6, 2018 6:00 PM
Updated: Mar. 6, 2018 10:29 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Some patients at the Riverbend emergency room waited up to 13 hours Monday night. 

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Robert Blake, the COO of Sacred Heart Medical Center campuses of Riverbend and University District, said the emergency room saw a surge of patients around 5 p.m. Monday, which increased the wait time.

On average, the wait time for the ER is anywhere from two and a half to four hours. Blake said normally they see anywhere from 175 to 225 patients a day. However, they saw about 350 on Monday and they didn't have enough rooms available until later in the evening when they were able to help facilitate transportation for discharged patients. 

"Even when we are full, we still have the capacity to place individuals in a safe place with providers who are able to care for them while we are waiting for an ICU bed or a medical, surgical bed to open up," Blake said.

He said they have a triage area in the waiting room where providers can evaluate patients and see if they need immediate care, and normally patients are seen in this area within 30 to 90 minutes of arriving.

Blake said the ER hits capacity about once a week. He estimates about 25 percent of people going to the ER may not have a primary care provider they see for common ailments.

Some of those people may be homeless or unemployed and are going to the ER because they can't afford other resources, while others go because it is easy and accessible.

Blake said they help connect patients to primary and urgent care providers to help free up the emergency room for people who have more serious injuries. 

"We take our mission to the community seriously, that we continually press ourselves to see how we can effectively treat larger numbers of people even though the population is growing," Blake said.

Right now at Riverbend, he said they are evaluating the services they offer and how many beds are available for each service. They are also looking into potential renovations to make additional space. 

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