State and Hospital Executives Call On Rhode Islanders To Seek Out The Right Settings For Medical Care

Ahead of the holiday rallies and the peak of flu season in Rhode Island, state health and hospital officials gathered today to once again urge the public not to come to emergency services. emergency only for health problems requiring emergency care. Emergency departments in Rhode Island hospitals continue to experience severe overcrowding and prolonged wait times.

The following information was provided by the Rhode Island Department of Health via a press release on Wednesday.

At a press conference outside the emergency department of the Rhode Island Hospital, leaders reminded residents of Rhode Island that many health issues can be treated quickly and effectively by a primary care provider or in an emergency care facility. This includes milder cases of the flu, back pain, minor cuts, sore throat, mild fevers, and most cases of norovirus (the “stomach flu”). Patients will have to wait a long time in the emergency department for non-urgent symptoms or may stay there for a significant period of time before being admitted to hospital.

“Emergency services are perfect for emergency situations. If a person has a serious health problem, it is imperative that they call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately. However, emergency departments treat patients with the most serious health problems first, which means people with less severe conditions will have long waits, ”said Director of Health Nicole Alexander -Scott, MD, MPH. “Keep your primary care provider’s phone number handy and know the location of your nearest emergency care facility. An emergency care facility or other type of express care facility is often a more convenient and less expensive option.

During the press conference, Dr Alexander-Scott pointed out This new page contains links to lists of primary care providers, emergency care centers and health centers in Rhode Island, as well as tips on when and when not to go to the emergency room. RIDOH will continue to direct Rhode Islanders to this page and other resources through a statewide communications campaign, which will launch in the coming weeks.

“By working with our health systems in Rhode Island, it has become very clear that overcrowding in hospitals has become a top concern for the state,” said Ana Novais, assistant secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. social. “I am grateful to our interagency team who are examining these challenges, implementing immediate relief, and planning strategies to address these long-term issues. “

“The health care of all Rhode Islanders is Care New England’s top priority, so we want to make sure patients understand where they can receive the most appropriate care, in the shortest time possible. With emergency room wait times at an all time high, people across the state are waiting countless hours to be seen. While emergency departments are appropriate for injuries and life-threatening symptoms, they are currently not ideal for less serious conditions. That’s why we encourage people with non-life-threatening illnesses to make an appointment with their primary care provider or arrange a telehealth visit, which saves time and money. money, ”said James E. Fanale, MD, president and CEO, New England Healthcare Healthcare System.

“It is important for the public to understand that the health care crisis associated with the pandemic is not over for our emergency services. Adult and pediatric emergency departments in Rhode Island and across the country are experiencing staff shortages, with more patients seeking behavioral health care and patients boarding for days or weeks waiting for a suitable placement. We urge patients to keep their regular medical appointments so that minor problems do not become major, to let their family doctor know if they have any medical problems, and to get vaccinated against COVID and the flu. These important steps will help reduce or prevent health problems and promote the provision of appropriate and effective treatment to patients, ”said Jeremiah Schuur, Chief Medical Officer of Emergency Medicine.For patients presenting to the emergency room, please understand that there are currently long wait times for non-emergency conditions. We know this can be frustrating, and we ask for patience as our care teams sort through the most critical patient needs with limited staff. Our amazing staff work tirelessly to provide the best possible care and ensure that all patients receive the treatment they need. “

Also in attendance were Jeffrey Liebman, CEO of Charter Care Health Partners; Dr. Matthew Sarasin, Medical Director of Landmark Medical Center, and Teresa Paiva Weed, President of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.

Hospitals across the country are experiencing a shortage of clinical staff, forcing many people to reduce the number of available beds and use the emergency department to pick up admitted patients. This limits the ability of emergency departments to serve new patients and makes it difficult to manage standard emergency department care and respond to the behavioral health crisis facing Rhode Island and other states.

When to seek emergency care

If anyone has any of these signs, see an emergency doctor immediately:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Persistent chest pain or chest pressure
  • New weakness in an arm, leg, or face
  • New difficulty speaking or confusion
  • Inability to wake up or stay awake
  • Pale, gray or blue skin, lips or nail beds, depending on skin tone

If you are going to an emergency department for a COVID-19-type illness, let the facility know that you (or the person you are accompanying) are seeking care for COVID-19. Masks are mandatory in all health facilities.

Measures taken at the state level

An interagency team from the Executive Office of Health and Social Services (EOHHS) is working to develop and implement strategies to address the challenges facing hospitals. They understand:

  • Emergency regulations to help increase the workforce and the availability of pre-hospital transport.
  • Partnerships with emergency care centers to explore capacity development to expand emergency treatment options.
  • Developing behavioral health care reduction capacity and increasing treatment initiation in emergency departments.
  • Provision of staffing support, including direct care workforce recruitment and retention initiatives for home and community services.
  • Behavioral health mobile crisis response planning and increased behavioral health system capacity through certified community behavioral health clinics.

Steps people can take to stay healthy and out of the hospital

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is available to residents of Rhode Island aged 5 and over. For more information, see
  • Get the flu shot. Anyone over 6 months of age should get a flu shot every year.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water throughout the day.
  • Stay home if you are sick and keep children away from school if they are sick.

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