How long do patients wait in Yakima County emergency rooms?

How long do patients wait in Yakima County emergency rooms? »Play Video
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- During a medical emergency, getting treated quickly is the name of the game. We've all heard stories of people waiting hours to be seen in the emergency room. Choosing the right hospital can make a difference.

Biterbo Salinas recently had a successful liver transplant. During the time he was waiting for a match, he was often in serious pain, constantly having fluids build up in his stomach. Many times, it would end with trips to the ER.

"I don't know what I would've done if they hadn't been there. Thank goodness somebody was there that knew what I was going through," said Salinas.

Biterbo's thankful for his short wait times at Memorial Hospital. KIMA pulled the numbers to see how long you have to wait on average in the emergency rooms around Yakima County.

The national average weight time is 28 minutes; in Washington it's 23. In Yakima, Memorial Hospital comes in at 24 minutes, Regional Hospital at 29, and Toppenish at 15 - because of fewer patients.

Officials at Memorial's Emergency Department say they're one of the busiest departments in the state. Yet despite 200 to 250 patients a day, they've still managed to cut down wait time in recent years.

"If the emergency department is the right place for them to be seen, our administration and all of our emergency service providers are committed to getting patients seen quickly," said Kim Bersing, Memorial's Emergency Department Manager.

The challenge comes from the sheer number of patients coming to be seen, not all with symptoms that warrant a visit to the ER. Yet nurses said they think the patients that come in today seem sicker on average than they've ever been before.

The wait times for patients with broken bones came in below average in Yakima: 52 minutes at Memorial and 50 minutes at Regional. Numbers varied for the total time until a patient is sent home: 102 minutes at Memorial and 134 minutes at Regional.

"They kept me alive until, you know, until I was ready to go to Seattle and get my transplant, because it takes time. It took me a whole year to get a match," said Salinas.

Because for patients in serious pain, every minute counts.

Nurses at Memorial say patients get the best care when they regularly see a primary care provider and not just rely on the ER.

Our data was taken from information that hospitals reported to Medicare and Medicaid services. Numbers for Sunnyside Community Hospital weren't available.