Wait time low at SGMC - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Wait time low at SGMC

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

August 11, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - They don't call it a hospital waiting room for nothing, and new statistics show that ER wait times have nearly doubled in the last ten years.

An increase in uninsured patients, doctor shortages and a lack of beds have all contributed to the delays.

But one South Georgia hospital has managed to keep the wait time to a minimum.

Norma Brown recently visited the Emergency Room at South Georgia Medical Center. She says she was seen by a doctor in no time at all.

"Maybe 30 minutes at the most.  I was in a lot of pain, and they got to me very quickly."

Her experience is not the norm.  A recent study revealed the average wait time in emergency rooms across the nation is an hour. But at SGMC, it's just 38 minutes.

So how's Valdosta bucking the trend?

"Manpower, your facilities and your through put process," says ER Director Randy Smith.

They say they have the staff ratios to move patients and state of the art equipment to ease the flow. And they always have a back-up plan.

"When we start getting to peak capacity, our hospital leadership team meets twice a day to look at the moving of patients out of the ER, should I cancel elective surgeries and should we have physicians around earlier in the day to get patients discharged earlier," Smith says.

But many patients say they don't mind the short wait.

"I know I was in pain, but I would certainly want a child to be seen before me, or someone in an accident or someone having a heart attack. That's more emergent then where I as at, although I was in pain," Brown says.

Because those precious minutes could be the difference between life and death.

Quick response time wasn't always the case at South Georgia Medical Center.

Hospital Administrators say patients could sometimes wait up to three hours in their old, 16-bed facility.

The opening of their new ER last year has dropped the wait time to 38 minutes.

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