LANCASTER, Pa. — Lancaster EMS and WellSpan hospital are seeing more and more people calling 911 and heading going to emergency rooms even though they don’t need immediate medical assistance.
“It’s an issue because it ties up an ambulance that could be responding to an actual life-threatening emergency," said Carli Bechtold, the director of community paramedicine program with Lancaster EMS.
“The more people that you see that you have to see in the emergency department, because you do have to see everyone that walks in, that walks through the door and so it slows things down," said Dr. Mark Goedecker, the Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for WellSpan medical group.
Many people believe they will be seen quicker in the emergency room if they come in by ambulance.
“That’s just not true. The nurses and doctors in the E.R. triage patients according to their symptoms and the severity of those symptoms," said Bechtold.
“They triage every patient that comes into the emergency department, so they want to make sure they’re treating the patients that are seriously ill first, making sure they get care," explained Goedecker.
Bechtold says the ambulance service will be implementing a position in January that will allow a community paramedicine field provider to respond to low acuity 911 calls.
“We are just sending an additional resource so if that issue or that emergency doesn’t necessarily need to be seen in the ER, then we can help them navigate and be seen where it’s going to be more helpful to them," she said.
Wellspan also offers an online urgent care that is 24/7 that patients can access entirely online without having to go into the emergency room.