COVID-19 surge contributes to long emergency room waits

Kent County

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — With Michigan’s hospitals at or above capacity as they strain to keep up with the current COVID-19 surge, health care officials are encouraging people to look for options other than the emergency room.

Steve Polega, the chief nursing officer at University of Michigan Health-West, said the ER is the busiest it has ever been and that’s causing long wait times. Every patient gets triaged and the most serious cases are seen first. That means people suffering heart attacks, strokes or other life-threatening emergencies go to the front of the line. Others may have to wait up to six hours for treatment.

If you’re not suffering a medical emergency, consider telehealth, your family doctor’s office or an urgent care. If you are experiencing an emergency, like difficulty breathing, chest pain or other heart attack symptoms, signs of a stroke or serious bleeding, you should still go directly to the ER.

Polega said many people are showing up to the ER seeking a COVID-19 test, and that’s not the right thing to do. You should look for a testing site specifically.

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