UMC at Capacity, ER Wait Up to Eight Hours

LUBBOCK, TX - University Medical Center started turning non-emergency patients away Tuesday morning after the hospital reached capacity. This is not the first time this happened and in fact, UMC said this happens often. 

The hospital being at capacity affects nurses, resources and wait times. Recently, wait times for the ER lasted for more than six hours in some cases. The wait times are longer because the ER is full with patients from other areas of the hospital. 

"Unfortunately, we have to hold patients in the ER," said marketing director at UMC, Eric Finley. "That means is that we keep a patient in the ER until a bed is available for them in the hospital. Sometimes that's 12 hours, sometimes that's 24 hours."

This causes the ER to operate differently and drains ER nurses who are not trained to work with these kinds of patients. 

"It does wear on staff, we're trying to listen to their needs because they are fully taxed every moment they are here," said Finley. 

A new facility with eight beds opened on Monday, but those beds are already full. As of this morning, they started having to turn away patients. 

"This morning until about 9:30, we were on diversion for adult medical patients," said Finley. "We'd take trauma or some type of bad car wreck but if your doctor said 'Hey, I want to put you in the hospital for some testing,' we wouldn't accept that patient."

Finley said a big part of the problem is people coming to the ER when they should be going somewhere else for their medical services, which adds to the wait time. 

"One thing that we see at any given time is only about 30 percent of patients who are in the ER actually need to be there," said Finley. 

UMC is asking the community to avoid coming to the ER for symptoms like the flu or a bad cold and instead utilize the clinics around town. If it's something more serious, the ER is the correct setting. 

By spring, UMC hopes to add 45 more beds to their facilities. Currently, UMC is recruiting nurses to man those beds. 



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