SIKESTON -- Nationally, emergency rooms are experiencing difficulties in dealing with more patients than they can handle, but local facilities are confident they can handle our region's emergency and after-hours medical needs.
The Oct. 29 edition of Parade included an article in which the nation's emergency rooms were described as "overburdened and underfunded, treating ever more patients with fewer resources" which is leading to long waits, diversions to other hospitals, and even an increased chance for mistakes.
Here things are much different, according to Steve Hampton, emergency room nurse manager for Missouri Delta Medical Center.
"We do have overcrowding some times of year -- in fact our busy time is about to start with flu season coming, but we do run well below the national average in our average length of stay," Hampton said. "Our average length of stay for the third quarter was 2 hours 20 minutes. Our average wait time from the waiting area to a bed in the ER is 14 minutes. We do see anywhere from 48-70 patients a day."
While the emergency room story in Oct. 29's Parade was "basically a good article about the big city," Hampton said, "I can't recall any medical mistakes here. If it's a real emergency, that's why we're here."
He said the article does include valuable advice on when it is appropriate or not to go to an emergency room.
"For a common cold or a cough or a rash or something like that be persistent and try to see you doctor because he is the expert on your history and your medical condition, where our ER doctors might be seeing you for the very first time and may not be familiar with your history," he said.
On the other hand, some conditions should be considered dangerous enough to go to the emergency room, such as "chest pain, if you're bleeding, a sudden loss of conscious or stroke symptoms," Hampton said. "Then they do need immediate attention."
There are options here for those who are unable to wait for a doctor's appointment but do not have a problem that warrants a visit to the emergency room.
"We do have our Express Care," Hampton said. "They see the non-emergent medical stuff."
Express Care is open from 9-10 p.m. and is more appropriate for simple cuts and bruises, spider bites and colds and runny noses, for example.
Another option is Ferguson Medical Group's Urgent Care.
Urgent Care is a walk-in clinic for individuals with minor injuries requiring immediate attention and those needing medical treatment for acute minor illnesses and general family medical care.
Located at 1012 N. Main Street just inside FMG's east lobby, Urgent Care is open from 8:30 a.m. till 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Friday; and from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday.
"We are definitely not an emergency room," said Christy O'Neal, director of marketing for FMG. "In fact, two of the best benefits of utilizing our facility are minimal wait time and ample physician coverage. Because we have several family practice doctors that cover Urgent Care as well as an internist, patients don't have to wait long to receive treatment. Having extended hours during the week and on Saturdays makes it nice for families who can't get to a doctor during regular work hours."
FMG's Urgent Care physicians can treat minor illnesses such as colds, sinus infections, fever, pink eye, earaches and other flu-like symptoms. They are also equipped to treat things like sport and work injuries, ankle sprains, minor lacerations requiring stitches and/or splits, and other injuries.
With an on-site lab and X-ray equipment available, FMG's physicians are prepared to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions.