UMC chief of emergency services explains long wait times

Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 10:15 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2022 at 10:30 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The UMC emergency room sees almost 250 patients a day, and some patients are complaining of waiting too long to get care.

Christopher Piel, chief of emergency services at UMC, says it could be taking longer for you to get into a room at the E.R. because it’s the time of year when more people get sick.

“Those respiratory viruses start to increase, and because of that more people seek medical care in the early Fall and that’s starting right now,” Dr. Piel said.

The emergency room also treats more serious cases like victims of gunshot wounds, heart attacks, or strokes.

“It may not even look like there’s that many people here, but ambulances are coming in, transfers, helicopters, and other people are walking even in the front door with more severe illnesses, and those illnesses if we determine they need immediate treatment, they have to take precedence over those that are more minor,” Dr. Piel said.

Piel wants to emphasize there are UMC urgent care clinics for you to use as well.

“If you feel like you have something more minor, that’s probably the place to go,” Dr. Piel said. “Some flu testing, strep throat, a minor headache, things like that,” Dr. Piel said.

To get the wait time down, if it can be treated somewhere else you may be directed to the urgent care clinic near the hospital.

“Even in the emergency room we have a process of screening everybody when they come in, and if we feel like it’s really minor and we don’t need to treat it in our emergency room we’ll even guide you to our urgent care,” Dr. Piel said.

Dr. Piel says this is similar to issues seen in previous years.

The good news is, he says there isn’t a staffing shortage and all beds are open at the hospital.

KCBD reached out to Covenant about the wait time there, and was told it isn’t experiencing any longer wait times than usual.