Patients upset over long ER waits

FAYETTEVILLE Some people claim they have waited 15 hours or more before being treated.

Hospital administrators say there are a number of reasons for the delays.

The emergency department at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center is usually packed. On Wednesday, there were 100 ambulance calls alone, along with walk-in illnesses, it caused a lack of beds to put them in.

In an e-mail to ABC11 Eyewitness News Wednesday about the emergency room at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, a Fayetteville resident wrote, "My husband arrived there with his mom before 7 p.m. this evening and was told the wait was nine to 10 hours. At 10 p.m. the head (nurse in charge) came out and announced the wait would now be up to 15 hours."

Emergency room administrator John Backus says there are a number of reasons for the delays.

"Patients have a harder time getting to their primary care physicians. With the economy and changes in insurance ... we've seen patients who have lost insurance and aren't able to go to their private doctors. So they're utilizing the emergency department for their primary care."

Delays have been reported for several hours; because the emergency room sees a lot of patients. Last year, they saw more than 125,000 patients.

"Three hundred and thirty patients came through the emergency department yesterday, so delays are created with influxes of patients attempting to get those patients that need to get to an in-patient setting to get them to an in-patient bed," Backus said. "Those are probably our biggest delays."

The hospital has opened three urgent care centers where the wait is normally shorter to treat sprains, strains and sore throats.

"One's right here on the campus, Cape Fear Valley Melrose," Backus said. "There's one open at Health Pavilion on the North side of town and Highsmith Rainey. Those are all urgent care centers where people can go for minor injuries and minor illnesses."

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