UNC REX: Don’t come to the ER with simple fracture, sprain – go to urgent care

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – If you break a bone, have a bad cut, or get very sick, where should you go for medical treatment?

Emergency rooms across the Triangle are filling up fast.

Where people go to get help and what the process is like is very different than even just a few months.

UNC REX Hospital is seeing an unprecedented number of people coming to the ER.

They receive about 50-60 ambulances with patients each day.

Hospital leaders will treat everyone who comes into the emergency department, but that doesn’t mean people should be coming into the building.

“If you have a simple fracture or a sprain, something like that, urgent care should be able to take care of that for you,” said Kim Boyer, the director of emergency services at UNC REX.

She told CBS17 they’re seeing people coming into the emergency department who don’t need to be.

“Folks are coming in just for a COVID test,” she said.

Hospital officials are asking people to evaluate if they truly need to go to the emergency room before walking in.

Examples of conditions that are best treated at an urgent care include fever and flu symptoms, respiratory problems, skin rashes, and sore/strep throat.

People should come to the emergency room if they have broken bones, deep wounds, constant vomiting, allergic reactions to food, medication or insect bites, head injuries, and more.

Space, especially bed space, is precious right now.

“We have beds in the hallway, we have chairs in the hallway,” added Boyer. “The median is six hours to get upstairs to a bed. There are times we’ll have patients for longer than that, depending on how full the hospital is.”

Staff at the hospital do their best to see patients in a timely manner.

“Within an hour [patients] are triaged and seen by our provider,” said Boyer.

UNC REX officers don’t post their emergency room wait times online.

It’s something that Duke Health and WakeMed have also opted out of.

On the WakeMed website, the emergency care page states that emergency room wait times are unavailable right now, because of growing hospital crowds.

“We shuffle things around on a regular basis,” added Boyer.

That doesn’t mean patients won’t get treated: it just means it could take a while.

People who are in a true medical crisis, like a heart attack, stroke, or transported by an ambulance, are given the priority.

“What we try to do is reserve our code room,” explained Boyer. “There are times we use it for quick ins-and-outs. If it’s in use, we will end up moving that patient out to take the sicker one in.”

On Monday, surge tents were installed outside of the emergency department at UNC REX.

Hospital leaders will have a meeting on Wednesday to decide on when they’ll be used.

CBS17 is told that could be put to use in the next day or two, due to the growing number of hospital patients.

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