‘It’s a problem. It’s critical’: Waco hospitals report longer wait times for patients at emergency rooms
Hospitals attribute longer wait times to rising flu and COVID-19 cases, other respiratory illnesses
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Health officials from Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest and Ascension Providence confirm to KWTX that patients are experiencing longer than normal wait times at their emergency rooms as a result of an uptick in respiratory illness, flu and COVID-19 cases.
Kimberly Townson is a patient who experienced this when she made the trip from Lake Whitney to Waco’s Ascension Providence Hospital. After not being able to sleep without losing her breath, Kimberly decided to visit the emergency room just to be safe.
“Throughout the night, they couldn’t get us in to see us because the rooms were full and the back rooms were full with patients,” she said.
Once there, she and her husband, James, found a waiting room packed with patients.
“We got there at 4. It wasn’t very crowded. By 9 p.m. it was extremely crowded,” James said.
The nurses performed bloodwork and took other vitals upon arrival. Eight hours after that, though, Kimberly felt the shortness of breath coming back in the waiting room.
“I go up there and I asked, ‘can I at least get a breathing treatment?’ I said, ‘please I’m having trouble breathing. I can’t even talk to you.’”
Both Baylor Scott & White - Hillcrest and Ascension confirmed that they are seeing longer ER wait times.
A spokesperson for Ascension released the following statement: “Ascension Providence is committed to providing personalized care to all of our patients. Each patient who is seen at our sites of care is treated and cared for based on their individual needs. Patients are triaged at arrival and are then seen by a qualified medical professional in priority order based on their presenting condition.
Due to the flu, upper respiratory infections and COVID-19, Ascension Providence is experiencing longer emergency department wait times. Emergency department wait times are extremely fluid and are constantly changing. Thanks to the work of our entire care teams, we continue to provide high quality, safe, and compassionate care for every patient who enters our facilities.”
A spokesperson for Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest said they have seen this uptick in emergency room visits since November and expect the numbers to go down by March.
“It’s a situation. It’s a problem. It’s critical,” Kimberly said. “People can’t get the care that they need.”
14 hours of waiting later, the Townsons decided to head back to Lake Whitney to their local urgent care.
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