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'I'm afraid to go back there': Central Georgians share experiences in long emergency room waits

Long ER wait times are a statewide problem, according to the Georgia Coordinating Center.

MACON, Ga. — According to the Georgia Coordinating Center, which keeps track of waiting room times across the state, Atrium Health Navicent, Coliseum Medical Center, and Coliseum Northside are all in code red with severely long ER wait times.

"14-and-a-half hours. 14-and-a-half hours at the Medical Center in the emergency room."

That's how long Betty Hill says it took from the time she walked into the Medical Center, Atrium Health Navicent Monday morning to the time she left in the early hours of Tuesday.

"Never saw a doctor the whole time I was there, never got a straight answer to my questions. The only thing they would tell me is, 'The wait time might be 20 hours, the wait time might be 24 hours,'" says Hill.

Hill says she was sent to the hospital to get tests, and she says she ended up being told by a nurse to follow up with her primary care doctor to get the results.

Two days before Hill's visit, Jackie Curtis says she spent an even longer time waiting to get fluid drained from her legs.

"You have to be patient because you understand that you're not the only one that's experiencing health things, so I kind of anticipated a little bit of a wait, but I had no idea that I would wind up waiting 26 hours to be placed in a room."

Curtis says she didn't have anywhere to prop up her legs during the wait, but once she was brought back, "Once I finally made it to a room, my care was phenomenal."

She says despite her longer wait time, she would consider going back because of the great care she received.

But for Hill, "To be completely honest, right now, I'm afraid to go back to the Medical Center. I'm not afraid to go back to Med Center east, north, west, but the main hospital, I'm afraid to go back there."

13WMAZ reached out to Atrium Health Navicent via email asking if the long wait times has to do with COVID-19 patients and what is being done for patients who are waiting if there are no available chairs or suitable places for them to wait.

In response, Amy Leigh Womack with Atrium Health Navicent sent a statement:

"Like other healthcare systems across the nation, Atrium Health Navicent is experiencing increased patient volumes. While still adversely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,  AHN continues to provide high-quality healthcare by using creative talent acquisition strategies and partnerships."

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