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PinnacleHealth Now Posting ER Wait Times

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Patients needing emergency care at a PinnacleHealth Hospital now have an easy way to find out how long the ER wait is--before they actually get there. PinnacleHealth is introducing two new innovative tools for its patients: an Emergency Room (ER) wait time display on the website and billboards throughout the Harrisburg area. 
On Tuesday, PinnacleHealth began displaying the current average ER wait times for Harrisburg Hospital and Community General Osteopathic Hospital on the homepage The ER wait times are automatically updated every five minutes and represents the average time it takes for a patient to be placed into a treatment room to be seen by the ER practitioner on duty. Patients are triaged on arrival by a registered nurse and are then seen by an emergency medicine provider based on severity. Those determined to require immediate attention will go directly to a room. 
The technology is designed for patients with relatively minor medical conditions. Patients with potentially life-threatening health problems should call 9-1-1 so they can receive life-saving measures in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Patients with medical emergencies, such as heart attack, stroke or traumatic injuries, are always seen immediately.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average hospital ER wait time to see a physician is nearly 56 minutes. At PinnacleHealth, we have implemented processes to improve overall wait times and total ER length of stay.
“During the past two years, we have implemented interventions and best practices to improve ER throughput, decreasing wait times and length of stay, while increasing patient satisfaction,” states Christian Caicedo, MD, executive director for Emergency Services at PinnacleHealth. “Posting ER wait times adds transparency and helps our patients make informed decisions.”
PinnacleHealth created the Pivot Process that allows for quicker triage and assigned acuity levels so that patients are seen in the appropriate setting, including the new Riverview Primary Care walk-in clinic for low acuity patients located adjacent to the Emergency Department at Harrisburg Hospital. On average, PinnacleHealth treats more than 300 patients daily in its Emergency Departments. Being able to reduce the time from the door to doctor evaluation translates to hours of saved time for patients daily.
So when do you need to go to the ER?  According to Dr. Caicedo, signs that someone may need immediate medical care may include:
• Sudden or severe pain that doesn’t go away, including headache or abdominal pain
• Chest pain
• Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
• Sudden changes in mental status
• Uncontrolled bleeding
• Headaches with a stiff neck or fever
For mobile versions of each hospital’s ER wait time, visit (Harrisburg Hospital) and (Community General Osteopathic Hospital).
About PinnacleHealth System
PinnacleHealth is a pioneer not-for-profit healthcare system dedicated to providing and improving the health and quality of life for the people of Central Pennsylvania since 1873. A proven leader in medical innovation, PinnacleHealth offers a wide range of services from primary care to the most complex surgeries and Magnet recognition for nursing excellence. The healthcare network includes four campuses (Community, West Shore, Harrisburg and Polyclinic). The West Shore Hospital will open in Hampden Township in 2014. The five-story hospital will include 108 beds with an emergency department, medical/surgical care, cardiology, orthopedics, chronic disease management, and private patient rooms. Medical services, including family practice, imaging, outpatient surgery and oncology are offered at multiple locations throughout the region. For a complete list of services, visit our website at