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Chronic Conditions Require Continuity of Care
Patients with serious conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure may put their health at risk by not seeing a physician on a regular basis. These chronic illnesses, which may require daily medication, need the ongoing monitoring and management that can be given by a primary care physician.
When not monitored or medicated properly, these conditions can get out of control, and patients become so ill that they must go to the emergency department. There, physicians and nurses on the medical staff expend tremendous effort and resources to get these patients’ conditions back in control.
When patients seek care in the emergency department, they may feel less frustrated if they understand the triage process. Triage, derived from the French word "to sort," is the process of sorting patients according to the urgency of their need for care.
Hospitals like Baylor Garland employ specially trained triage nurses who know how to distinguish an acute event, such as a heart attack or hip fracture, from a non-urgent one. In essence, the sicker patients will be seen first. This is true whether a patient is driven to the emergency department by a family member or friend or arrives by ambulance.
Because the sickest patients take precedence, emergency-room visits can seem interminable for those patients whose conditions are less acute. While you don't want to pester the staff about how long you’ve been waiting, inform the emergency room staff if you start feeling worse while you wait, experts say.
"If your condition is changing or getting worse in any way, it’s important that we know so we can give you the appropriate care,” Dr. Arze said.
Of course, patients must remember that emergency room visits aren’t free. Co-pays can vary widely, depending on the insurance plan a patient has. And some ER services, such as lab tests, may cost more than in a doctor's office because they may be expedited for faster results. Generally, it is much more affordable to see your personal physician or visit an urgent care center for things like minor aches and pains or medication refills.
If a patient decides his or her condition warrants a visit to the emergency room, he or she should bring a list of all current medications and be prepared to tell the staff about any allergies and past surgeries. If a patient is dizzy or in pain, or worried about a heart attack or stroke, he or she should have someone else drive to the emergency department.
The 24-bed emergency department at Baylor Garland is the third busiest ED in the Metroplex, just behind Parkland Hospital and Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Approximately 65,000 patients come through its doors each year, which averages about 175 patients each day.
“Our emergency department stays at capacity,” said Tom Trenary, president of Baylor Garland. “That’s why we’re expanding our emergency services to be able to care for the growing population of Garland and our surrounding communities."
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