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Baystate Medical Center Seeing Spike in ER Wait Times

Baystate ER

SPRINGFIELD Mass. (WGGB) — In the last ten days, Baystate Medical Center’s ER has been inundated.

“Our volume has been up really tremendously. We’ve been up 12 percent over the same period last year,” said Dr. Niels Rathlev, the hospital’s Chair of Emergency Medicine.

It’s the height of flu season, and hospital admissions or children and adults have also spiked.

Some start out in the ER. Dr. Rathlev says people who would typically be seen within a half hour, are now waiting more than an hour for care.

“We have a triage category scheme that’s based on 5 categories. Category 1, our patients are critically ill. They basically just drop everything and run, and take care of them. Category 5 have acute illness and are typically seen last,” Rathlev explains.

Baystate’s Mary Lane Hospital in Ware actually lists ER wait time estimates on their website. It’s a feature that won’t be coming to Springfield’s Level 1 trauma hospital anytime soon.  

“That’s because in the last 10 days, we haven’t really been able to make those promises, and we don’t want to make promises we can’t keep.”

Of course, if you show up at the ER, you won’t be turned away. With such high volume, Dr. Rathlev suggests people try to get to their primary care doctor first. That too might be a challenge.

“There is a shortage of PCPs, and clearly, on a nationwide scale, we have to make it attractive for physicians to become primary care physicians,” Dr. Rathlev stated.

In the meantime, Dr. Rathlev says that to improve the issue, Baystate is working on expanding their primary care for walk-ins, and expanding their ER.

Dr. Rathlev also suggests you take advantage of urgent care centers.

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