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What to expect in the Emergency Room

ER Navigator
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Your ER Journey

  • Arrival and check-in

    Arrive by ambulance?

    • Ask if a medic has checked you in.

    Walk in?

    • Check in at the registration desk.
    • Wait to be seen by a nurse. Your wait time will vary.

    No matter how you arrive in the ER, we strive to evaluate each patient efficiently and accurately.

    What if I can’t pay?

    • You will not be denied medical care in the ER if you can’t pay. We offer financial assistance to qualifying patients.
    • Ask a member of your care team or a registrar about insurance coverage if you have questions.
  • Health assessment

    You’ll be evaluated by a member of our care team to determine the severity of your condition. We do this to quickly identify people with the most life-threatening conditions for immediate treatment.

    Before you eat, drink, or use the restroom, check with your nurse. Some testing requires that you do not eat food, drink liquids, or use the restroom beforehand to ensure tests are accurate.

    Please avoid bringing in outside food.

  • Move to treatment space

    Wait times vary.

    You may be moved to:

    • a treatment space for care of less severe health needs
    • or a critical care space for a severe and life-threatening condition
  • Care team exam

    A member of our care team (including doctors and nurses) will perform a medical screening exam to determine which tests and treatment you'll need.

    One visitor is allowed in your room with you, but they must not interfere while you are being evaluated and treated.

  • Tests and treatment

    Based on the care team’s exam, you may need lab tests, imaging (like x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan), and/or treatment.

    These are estimated times for how long it may take to get results:

    • Lab tests: 1 - 1.5 hours
    • X-ray: 1 - 1.5 hours
    • Ultrasound: 1.5 - 2 hours
    • CT scan: 1.5 - 2 hours

    Typically, waiting to receive your test results will be your longest wait.

  • Outcome

    Based on your results, you may be:

    • Discharged with a care plan
    • Admitted to the hospital
    • Transferred to another care facility
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More questions about your ER journey?

  • Can I have visitors in the ER

    Generally, one visitor is allowed.

    They must not interfere in your care while the staff is treating you.

  • How long will I have to wait before I get treatment

    Your initial assessment is one factor that determines when you’ll be seen by a member of our care team.

    Long wait times are often caused by factors that are hard to control.

    There are times when the waiting area seems quiet, but the emergency department is still very busy.

    We appreciate your patience.

  • What about the costs of my ER visit

    Will my insurance cover my emergency services?
    Please check with your insurance provider because coverage varies.

    What if I don’t have insurance or can’t pay?
    No one will be denied medical care by the ER if they can’t pay.

    In line with Ascension's Mission and Core Values, we offer financial assistance to qualifying patients with and without insurance.

    The application and copies of our Financial Assistance Policy are provided free of charge. Ask any member of your care team or hospital staff for help.

    When will I receive a bill for my ER visit?
    We can't predict when you will receive the bill for your visit. Timing varies depending on your insurance and financial situation.

    In addition to your hospital bill, you may receive separate bills for services from ER providers, anesthesiologists, pathologists, radiologists, or other medical professionals.

  • Who gets seen first and why

    We see every patient as soon as possible, but those with serious or life-threatening symptoms must be seen first.

    ER care team professionals decide which cases to prioritize.

    That’s why some patients may receive medical care before you, even if they arrive at the ER after you.

    Arriving by ambulance won’t speed up your treatment in the ER.

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How we can help

  • ER Doctor

    Your ER doctor can:

    • Diagnose your condition and create your care plan
    • Order medications, tests and labs
    • Help you understand your lab or imaging results
    • Decide the most appropriate outcome of your ER visit
  • ER Nurse

    Your ER nurse can:

    • Answer questions about your care plan and what to expect
    • Give you information on the status of your lab and imaging tests
    • Give medications the doctor ordered
    • Help if you're in pain or need to feel more comfortable
  • Other ER Staff

    Registration staff can:

    • Register you upon arrival and update your personal information
    • Answer questions about insurance, ER visit costs, billing and financial assistance

    Other ER staff:

    • You may meet people in other job roles during your ER visit, including:
    • Patent care technicians
    • Lab or imaging technicians
    • Security guards
    • Housekeepers
    • Paramedics
    • Volunteers

    They may not be able to answer medical questions, but they will do their best to send you to the appropriate person.