Long waits as hospitals loses sense of urgency

Do me a favor: give the Oswego Hospital’s emergency room a call and ask how long the wait is. You’ll probably hear something along the lines of a three or four-hour wait. How can this be?

An emergency is defined as a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence or occasion requiring immediate action. Last time I checked, immediacy could not be measured in hours. The reason I’m bringing this up is because I was recently a victim of the shoddy care given at Oswego Hospital.

To make a long story short, I went to the Oswego emergency room with what seemed to be an allergic reaction. After waiting about two hours to get in, I was put in a room and given Benadryl. I told the doctor I had taken Benadryl the night before and it seemed to have worsened my condition, but I took it. Let’s just say I’m never trusting that doctor again.

Although I’m not positive if I’m allergic to Benadryl, I still think he could have given me a different antihistamine. After about 45 minutes he checked how I was doing and I said about the same. He then said I could go. How, I ask, can you possibly release someone whose condition hasn’t improved at all? I then asked if I had to do anything before I left. He said no and I walked out without being discharged. I went out and was on my way to St. Joseph’s.

On the website for the hospital, it lists a group of reasons on why you should come to the ER. Amongst them are severe bleeding, difficulty breathing and chest pain and pressure. I can only imagine a scene at the hospital when there was actually a life-threatening issue at hand. I honestly can’t picture the staff getting worked up and really stepping up their game to handle a situation. In a place where people are in great need, workers seem lackadaisical and uninterested.

I am a realist. I understand that a hospital isn’t a 10-story hotel and that there is a limit to the amount of sick people they can hold at once.

My main concern is the waiting room experience. Why couldn’t a hospital staff a few people to specifically nurse and watch over people in the waiting room?

Yes, they bring you in for a quick check-up and make sure you’re stable, but then you’re stuck in an uncomfortable chair with your symptoms that were bad enough to make you go in the first place. To top it all off, you’re surrounded by people soaking in sicknesses with your naked immune system. All in all, it’s a pretty awful situation.

I went to St. Joseph’s Hospital the next day after my family doctor told me to go immediately so that I could be admitted. I spent over three more hours in the waiting room and then about nine hours in a temporary room before being moved to a permanent room. The care I received there was quality and I left five days later after being properly discharged.

This experience has made me question two things. First, I wonder how emergency rooms will fare as the new health care reforms flood in and possibly overcrowd the already jam-packed waiting rooms. I also don’t know how I feel about the word "immediate" anymore.